Sunday, October 23, 2011

How Do You Keep Up With Everything?

I have a confession to make: I'm not always the best person at keeping up with his e-mail. Between my work and personal e-mail accounts, I receive hundreds of e-mail messages a day. Of course, many of these I can delete as spam, but there are still plenty of others from customers, writers, editors, family members, den parents, etc. It's sometimes a little overwhelming. Maybe that's why I could empathize with a question I received via e-mail earlier this weekend.

I recently subscribed to 6 people on your Best Tweeps for Writers to Follow list, and I already have over 65 tweets a day to wade through. While I do see the value of following those in the industry who really do know what they are doing, how realistically does a follower gain value out of following so many people? I can easily see my entire day spent reading tweets and not writing. How is this done? How do you or others do it?

The short answer is that we don't do it. Or at least, I don't do it. I'm sorry if I offend anyone that I follow, but there's absolutely no way I can be a good parent, writer, editor, den leader, human being--you name it--and still try to follow my Twitter-stream. Or Facebook-stream. Or Google+-stream. It's just not ever going to happen.

Streams are good for dipping into and wading, but you don't want to live in a stream--unless you're a fish.

My recommendation is to jump in and out of Twitter (or any other social network) when your schedule allows for it. Use the wealth of information available on social networks without becoming a slave to them. Sure, you're going to miss a lot of cool stuff, but you'll find a lot of cool stuff too.

Using Lists
Nearly every social network now, including Twitter, allows users to create specialized lists of the people they want to follow. Use these sparingly and with purpose. If you find that there are a handful of people you always love following, gather those together in a list. That way, you can dip into the overall stream, while still following specific people.

On Twitter, this is called the list function. On Google+, it's called circles. On Facebook, I think it's subscribing, though they'll likely change the name five more times before the end of the year (because that's just how Facebook rolls).

Bottom Line
Just relax and enjoy Twitter one tweet at a time. Don't worry about tweets you've missed. If there's anything really worth viewing, it'll probably make its way to you through re-tweets anyway.

And if anyone has recommendations on handling e-mail, I'm all ears.


Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


Here's some more Not Bob advice for writers:


Anonymous said...

Love the line:

Streams are good for dipping into and wading, but you don't want to live in a stream--unless you're a fish.

As for email...set up filters so email is categorized as it comes in. All of those "list serve" emails...right into folders for reading when you have time, etc.

~ Paula

Anonymous said...

You are very fortunate indeed to have so many social connections. I often come home to no messages, no emails. I check repeatedly for both throughout the day, such is my hunger for human contact. My phone never rings and whole weekends go by without face to face contact with another human. I've unsuccessfully tried to break out of this isolation for 12 years but people view a lone male in our society, particularly a lone male with pit bulls, as a threat.

pranaknits said...

Thanks for the post and the suggestions. And for answering your e-mails! It doesn't seem so daunting now.