I’ve been on a time management kick lately with posts about reducing my side project overload, managing my time through better prioritization of activities and using Harvest to track my time. One of the things I learned from tracking my time more closely is that I spend way too much time on information-related tasks (email, Twitter, blog posts, etc.) in both sharing and consuming information.
Let’s start with Twitter. I get so much value out of Twitter: links to news and other information, updates on friends, notification of events and much more. However, it could easily consume too many hours out of my day if I didn’t keep it under control. I needed to make my use of Twitter more efficient: spend less time using it, while still getting the information I need.
Smarter Use of Applications
In my case, TweetDeck has been a giant help. I’ve tried quite a few of the Twitter applications, but this one is my favorite for two reasons: grouping and smarter notifications.
You can group your followers in a way that makes it easier to consume the information. In my case, I have a group of people that I follow closely. These are people who don’t tweet too frequently and who post updates that I never want to miss. While I follow almost 400 people, this smaller group has just over 100 people. I read this group first, and if I have time, I read the other groups.
TweetDeck also has pop-up smart notifications (assuming that you have configured it to notify you) for @replies, direct messages and dynamic, persistent searches. I configure searches for events I am organizing, companies I’m involved with, and more. This week, I’m closely tracking mentions of this Thursday’s Ignite Portland, since I am helping to organize it.
While Tweetdeck is great for consuming information, I use twhirl to manage posts to multiple Twitter accounts. I manage Twitter accounts for events, organizations, and other informal groups. Managing posts to those accounts can get very time-consuming if you have to keep logging in and out. The big benefit of twhirl is that I can be logged into several accounts simultaneously to post updates, which saves me time in the long run.
As much as I love Twitter, I do need to shut it off when concentration is required. While the notifications keep me constantly informed, I don’t need those distractions when I’m doing client work that requires focus. As a result, I’ve started spending more time ignoring Twitter as part of my time management improvements. I can always catch up later if I missed something.
Follow Fewer People
I’m a bit brutal about my following policy. I can’t follow all of the people that I find interesting and keep my sanity. I only follow people who provide real value for me; whether that value is humor, information, or some other intangible. This threshold is going to be different for each person. Some people spend more time on Twitter and can follow more people. I’ve also found that I can follow more people now that I use groups in TweetDeck to manage how I read tweets. I usually follow people until it starts getting overwhelming, and then I pare back and unfollow the people who are providing the least value for me.
None of these are hard and fast rules for how you should use Twitter to get the most out of the time you spend on it. These are simply the ways that I am managing my Twitter use to be more effective on my journey to improved time management.
How do you get the most value out of Twitter without spending too much time on it?