As it’s the first week back after Christmas, I’ve a stack of emails to answer from over the holidays. At the Taylor Bennett Foundation we ran four programmes back-to-back last year and this has been my first chance to catch my breath before we run our next programme in the spring. We’ve also had to move out of our office space and don’t have a new one to move into so all our office equipment is currently in storage.
I already work from home a fair bit, but it’s now a permanent arrangement until the end of March at least – or until we have a new office to move into. Working from home has its advantages; I get to see my little boy before and after nursery, which I don’t do on the days I’m working in London as my commute is so long. I can put the washing on while I’m working and I get to do lots of work with no distractions. I can get twice as much done in a day working at home as when I’m in the office as there’s no one wanting to chat. The downside though is that there’s no one wanting to chat. It can be isolating and I have to be very disciplined to get everything done. At least at this time of year there’s no temptation to bunk off and go to the beach at the bottom of the road. As a result, I use social media a lot as my connection to the world.
So with the new year now here, its time to clear out the clutter and streamline my social media. Here are my tips for cleaning up your feeds.
I have a rule to never have more than 100 emails in my inbox. I obviously have not done a great job of sticking to that rule over Christmas as my inbox currently holds 900 messages and climbing. I find sorting by sender, rather than date, helps me to delete all the unnecessary messages and I use folders and flags to archive and make a note of emails I need to reply to at a later date. I use a Mac so both my personal emails and work ones arrive in the same email client, which makes it much easier for me to manage.
I love Twitter. I don’t use it as much as I probably should, but I do a lot of reading there and I’ve found some very interesting people through it. I don’t automatically follow back people who follow me and tend to choose to follow people who share interesting information and/or those who engage me in conversation. If there are people I think I might want to refer to at some point I add them to a list e.g PR academics, journalists and so on. About three or four times a year I use Manage Flitter to cull who I’m following. Anyone who hasn’t tweeted for the previous three months gets the chop.
I find Facebook the most difficult social network to streamline. Unlike Twitter where everyone is used to gaining and losing followers regularly, people take it very personally on Facebook if you delete them. I have very few work contacts on Facebook, although I am considering loosening my grip and allowing more. I find conversations happen much more frequently on Facebook than on Twitter, but you must be willing to put up with photos of my son and endless X Factor analysis in the autumn.
I use my Facebook author page to share work type stuff so you might be better off using that if you want to connect with me on there.
Alternatively, PR Job Watch is a group I run and that’s a good source of PR job adverts and career advice.
I do delete people from Facebook occassionally though – racism (and increasingly, sadly, Islamaphobia in particular) and misogyny are huge no nos and will see me heading for the ‘unfriend’ button. If you share something from Britain First I’m likely to send you to this page. Thankfully, I rarely see that stuff in my newsfeed.
If there are people on Facebook who you’d rather not see in your newsfeed, but you can’t delete without causing problems at work or with friends and family, there are a couple of other options. To stop them seeing your posts, share your updates with a ‘custom’ list rather than public or with friends. You can exclude anyone you like from seeing those posts by removing them from the list. To stop seeing other people’s posts in your newsfeed, go to their profile and click the button that has a tick and ‘follow’ to change it to ‘unfollow’. You’ll still be friends with them, but you won’t see their status updates and they’ll not be informed that you’ve unfollowed them.
I have never trimmed down my connections on LinkedIn and I probably never will although occassionally I have to remind myself who people are by looking at their profiles and then I worry they’ll think I’m stalking them. I do update my own profile every few months though to include any new clients I’ve been working with and presentations/published work worth sharing and I delete any information that’s out of date.
Away from electronic media, I still have a bunch of paperwork. I’m freelance so I have to do my books every month and save my receipts for an end of month book-keeping marathon. In recruitment it’s difficult to move away from paper CVs but I tend to use my iPad for CV reviewing these days and file job applications on Dropbox. I’ve a ‘to do’ folder where I put things I must go back to – bills to pay, tax demands, business cards I’ve been given and need to add to my contacts and so on. Otherwise I’m pretty ruthless with paper and scan it to keep it digitally if I really need it. Everything else ends up in the recycling.