How clean is your room right now? To be honest, mine is a mess! I can admit that I would prefer a cleaner room, but my on-the-go lifestyle usually leaves me shuffling through my drawers for a quick outfit and grabbing something quick to eat in the car on the way to my daily duties. When I come home after a long day, I usually enter my room feeling the urge to clean up and reorganize my things now that I have more time to do so. It usually only takes a little while to get my room back in order because of the shelving and storage I bought to keep my belongings organized. Finding ways to efficiently organize, plays a major role in your personal productivity.

This same idea of organization can be a great strategy while working digitally. Many professionals, including journalists and PR practitioners, need to know how to effectively organize and manage emails, documents, spreadsheets and so much more. Using special storage tools like folders and labels can help you file the masses of emails and information that you receive. I wish I was properly trained in this area when I began my first PR internship. My G-Mail inbox was always full of messages, from those that required response to junk mail. Many times, I would miss important messages due to my cluttered inbox. Of course then, I would get stressed out and feel incapable of staying on top of things. My supervisor at the time would say, “Hey, you just kind of have to figure out something that works for you.” As a junior in college with only fast food and retail experience, I had never really run into a problem like this.

A year later, I accepted another PR internship. The first thing my boss said to me during my training week was, “Ok girl, you need to optimize and organize. You’re gonna start getting a lot of emails and tasks assigned to you and I don’t want you to get lost in the shuffle.” Within a week, I learned how to effectively organize my email by using labels and folders and how to use Basecamp, a project management system that dates projects and notifies everyone assigned to the task of the deadlines and updates relevant to that specific task. I could swear I saw angels ascend from heaven. I knew this would make my life a million times easier. I continued to learn how maneuver around Dropbox to effectively share and store files for the company and the ins and outs of Microsoft Office. I have been writing papers using Microsoft since what seems like the beginning of time, but there was still so much about the system that was unchartered territory.

My biggest takeaway was understanding the importance of creating a daily agenda. Even now, I have completed my internships, but I still create a daily agenda because I know I can’t remember everything. Whether I write it down or log it into my phone, I make sure I stay on top of my To-Do list to avoid forgetting important dates and deadlines. Author Clay Shirky said it best, “There’s no such thing as information overload, only filter failure.” If you find that your mind isn’t a good enough filter, find the tools that can help you become more productive.

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