Tom, do you schedule time to use Twitter and general interneting or are you able to work with intermittent distractions?
The truth is, I was actually going to include this in the original post, but it was getting a bit long so I thought it made more sense to break it out into a separate post.
TL;DR: I don’t use a Twitter client on my phone, I check in a few times a day, I generally don’t use Facebook, and I use Path for my closest friends and family.
Of course, there’s a bit more to it than that.
My Social Networks
Just as I mentioned in my GTD post, none of what I share here is prescriptive. This is simply what helps me focus on my important tasks each day. I’m not claiming that this is how anyone else should work, nor that this is the definitive way to manage your time.
We’re all different, right? So why should we all work the same way?
To me, Twitter’s one of the more interesting social networks in that it when I originally started using it, most of my peers were using it to share things about where they are, what they were up to, and also treated it like a global chat room.
Since then, it seems as if everyone has more or less gravitated towards their own respective communities on Twitter. For example, a lot of my photographer friends follow and tweet with fellow photographers.
Similarly, I do the same: I follow a lot of people with my common interest and usually chat with them about the stuff we’re working, opinions on the industry, and the like.
Sure, there’s carry over. I don’t exclude my friends from Twitter, but I usually don’t chat with them much via that particular channel.
Perhaps the neatest thing about Twitter is that I’ve met a lot of people that I would’ve never met otherwise that I’ve ended up meeting face-to-face locally, at meetups, or some other type of gathering and it’s like being able to catch up with someone I’ve met face-to-face.
I started on Facebook in 2005 when it was originally just dedicated to college students. I’m not one of those people who believe that it was better just for college students (after all, none of us are in college anymore, so how would you manage that?), but I’m generally not a fan of the site.
The thing is, it’s the one network my family – immediate, extended, and in-laws – use. If it weren’t for that, I’d completely do away with it.
Instead, I maintain a single list that I use to keep up with what’s going on with my family members and that’s it. Other than that particular scenario, I don’t use Facebook.
Yep – I actually use Path. I know, I know, few do, right? But the thing about Path is that my immediate family and my closest friends all use it so I’m actually able to get the benefit of using that particular application more so than any other.
The unique thing about Path is that I do not use it to keep up with everyone, so I typically reject a lot of requests. When Path first hit the scene, a lot of people just began importing their Twitter contacts and friending them on Path.
To me, that goes against the purpose of the network so I try to stay close to what they’ve intended for it and it’s worked really well.
On top of that, I think Path has the best user interface, the right approach to managing the maximum number of relationship a person can have, and the most targeted use case of the rest of the social networks.
Path is the only social media application that I have on my phone.
Managing Social Media (On My Phone, On The Clock, and More)
As far as “managing social media” is concerned, I don’t really have a strategy. Sometimes, I think that people over think how they use social media services to the point of micromanaging something that doesn’t really deserve micromanaging.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be careful with how we use it, what we post, or whatever, but I also don’t think it’s as complicated or significant as some people try to make it out to be.
Truthfully, I don’t use any social media applications on my phone except Path. Generally speaking, I’ve found them to be a distraction.
Even though I can disable notifications, alerts, and all of those fun things, having the icons on my homescreen makes a time suck available that I simply do not want.
Case in point: When I’m hanging out with my friends or my family, I don’t want to habitually check my phone to see what the most recent thing was that was just posted on Twitter or on Facebook. I’ll always be able to check it on my computer whenever I get back to it.
I find that having those mobile applications creates a bit of a “false demand” of my time. It gives me the feeling that I need to keep up with what’s going on when, in reality, I’d much rather keep up with the people who are around me while they are around me.
To be clear, this is just a personal preference. I’m not preaching here. I’m just sharing why it doesn’t work for me.
I don’t use any client applications for my social networks. OS X’s Twitter integration is enough, and I use the site when I want. I’d say the same goes for Facebook, but my lack of participation on it is so low, that there’s not much to speak of.
I’ve experimented with Twitter lists, but for me they actually just create yet-another-thing to manage, and my goal is to keep things as simple as possible.
As such, I don’t use lists on Twitter – I just check in on the stream, replies, and DM’s a couple of times per day and leave it at that.
On The Clock
Finally, to answer Kevin’s original question, I generally don’t leave Twitter or any other social networks open during the day.
Simply put, I dislike intermittent distractions – I prefer to hyper focus on a task at a time a get into the zone of what I’m working on rather than thrash between a handful of things.
To that end, I usually check in with Twitter a few times a day, and then leave it at that. This is what I’ve found to be the best way to manage my time and, thus, my productivity as it relates to social media.
This Won’t Work For You
Or maybe it will. Just like I mentioned in the first post of this series, I really have no idea. This is just how I’ve opted to use the available social networks in my day-to-day routine.
Anyway, these posts are a bit of a deviation from my normal content, though I figure if people are interested in knowing how I get things done and I manage my time, I don’t mind sharing.
Similarly, I’m curious how you guys do it as well, so feel free to share your style in the comments.