Ah, Twitter. How I love thee. And how thou dost take up all my time and sometimes maketh me want to cry.
Back in the day, when I had a job in one of those office-thingies and didn’t ever have to do anything resembling “networking”, I had a Twitter account. And I had a Twitter addiction. So I abandoned said Twitter account, and suddenly found the day had a few more hours in it, and a lot fewer angry people. But then I started my own business and quickly realised that social media could be a powerful marketing tool, and so, knowing it was both a useful and potentially unwise thing to do, I headed back to Twitter.
And it was a good decision. Wordy Twitter (where the authors, editors, publishers, linguists and all the people in between hang out) is a very fun place to be. I learn a lot, I can keep up with trends in my industry, and I can connect with colleagues and clients. I’ve made friends and found work, all in 280-character chunks.
But there’s no denying that Twitter can be a time-sink. There’s just so much STUFF on there, and so many interesting people, that you log on to say a quick hi to your followers and half an hour later, there you are, reading your twelfth bad take on today’s hot topic.
I’m sure there are people out there who can say they’re only going to spend a few minutes on Twitter and actually do that before logging off, but none of them are me. If they’re not you either, then read on for some of the tips that help me stay away from Twitter so I have more time to devote to Facebook. Editing. I mean editing.
Turn off your notifications
The temptation to check what’s happening as soon as you get a notification can be really strong. Take away that temptation. The conversation will wait. You can thank someone for the Retweet later. And you really don’t want to interrupt whatever it is you’re doing just to discover that Great Free Giveaways (UK) follows you!
Get rid of the app altogether
The mobile site is fine, but nowhere near as easy as using the Twitter app, which is a good thing if you’re trying to use it less. It’s also harder to see your notifications, so you’re less likely to be tempted by those.
Or use a third-party app to control what you see
One of my naughty Twitter habits is veering out of Wordy Twitter to check out what’s trending, and that’s when I end up down a rabbit hole. Twidere is an app that lets me customise my home screen, and I can choose not to show the Trends list and search bar. I can still use them, but going through one extra menu can be enough to make me stop and have a word with myself.
Know your weaknesses, and mute them
I’m interested in politics. And while it’s no bad thing to be politically engaged, there’s an awful lot on Twitter you can engage with. And this not only takes up more of my time than I’d like, it sometimes takes up a lot of my mental and emotional energy. So although it’s pained me to do it, I’ve muted all the accounts, words and phrases I can think of related to the topics that are guaranteed to pull me in. It’s impossible to filter it all out, but my timeline is a much happier place now I’ve muted, for example, the Tweets of a certain world leader…
Turn off Retweets
This was a thing I discovered recently, and it’s made me very happy. There are some accounts I follow because I want to be connected with them and I like the things they Tweet, but they are a tad Retweet-happy. Authors with a book out might Retweet every positive review, for example, and while I’m not necessarily uninterested, the sheer volume of content can be overwhelming. The good news is that if you go to their profile, there is an option to turn off their Retweets. You’ll still be connected, and you’ll still see their own Tweets, but it will slim down your feed.
Use a blocking/monitoring app
And if you need to bring out the big guns, there are hundreds of apps available that can help you curb your Twitter time. Apps that give you a gentle nudge if you’re spending too long on Twitter, apps that just won’t let you on it, apps that will shame you at the end of the day by telling you exactly how much time you wasted – there are plenty out there, and many of them are free. I’ve used BreakFree and AppDetox on my phone and was thoroughly horrified by the stats from both of them.
If you have any other tips for a healthy Twitter-life balance, please share! And if you’d like to find me on Twitter, I’m @KiaThomasEdits
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