Getting Overwhelmed? Get Organized!

One of the things I have been hearing lately is that people are getting overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by following too many people on social networks or subscribing to too many blogs. And although they are inundated, they do not want to just get rid of everything and start from scratch. So how do you get what you really need and not suffer from information overload? Here are some simple ways to organize your sources of incoming information on social media, email, and blogs. I know some of these may sound like they are time intensive, but trust me, the extra time you spend setting up will be worth it for future use on these information avenues.

Twitter Lists

Twitter now allows you to add Twitter members to Twitter Lists, which helps you easily organize people you are interested in following by topic. Once you have created a few lists (or found good ones to follow on sites like Listorious, you can login to Twitter and go straight to your lists, or setup your TweetDeck, HootSuite, or other Twitter applications to show you the people you are following on those lists. This way, instead of having to spend a lot of time unfollowing people or starting up a whole new Twitter account, you can simply just see the people on your lists, bypassing the rest.

Other Twitter Cleanup Methods

  • Use Twitter Karma to take a glance at your followers all on one page. Sometimes it’s easy to spot bots over real people, or people that you don’t recognize. Since the mass unfollow no longer works, you have to open the Twitter profile in another tab / window to unfollow them.
  • Any time you realize you have seen a lot of uninteresting tweets from a particular user, take a moment to unfollow them.
  • If you’re a reciprocal auto-follower, use TweetDeck’s New Followers column to spot out bad followings from the beginning and unfollow those that don’t interest you.

Facebook Friends List

The latest News Feed can be confusing if you are friends with a lot of people but only want to really keep an eye on certain people. Facebook allows you to create custom friends lists to organize friends in several areas: under Account > Edit Friends, whenever you add a new friend or accept a friend request, and when you click on Friends under your photo on your Facebook homepage. Once you have added friends that you want to follow, you can simply view your custom list in the News Feed, hiding all of the updates by those who you have befriended but don’t necessarily want to follow closely.

Other Facebook Cleanup Methods

  • Hide people or apps that annoy you in the News Feed by hovering over the item and clicking Hide and selecting your preference. You can undo this later if you want to see them again.
  • Click on Friends > Status Updates, Links, Events, or other particular items to only see those in your News Feed.
  • Un-friend the people that you don’t remember why you befriended them in the first place, especially if all they do is post unwanted Facebook application things on your wall.

StumbleUpon Shares

Tired of always having the red 99 in your StumbleUpon toolbar? There is only one way to fix this, and that is to unsubscribe from those people who are sharing things you are uninterested in. So when you see their name pop up, click on it to go to their profile and unsubscribe. If you are not subscribed to them, this means that you were friends with them before the new StumbleUpon revamp. To stop getting shares from them, subscribe to them, then uncheck the box so you do not accept toolbar shares. (Learn more about friends who are not subscriptions here.)

The only way to prevent StumbleUpon over sharing is to take the time before you subscribe to someone to make sure they have something in common with you by taking a look at their favorites.

RSS Folders

I have a habit of subscribing to blogs that I like, and so do many other people. Of course, those unread items can quickly add up in your feed reader and make it a bit hard to handle. One way to make sure you are getting what you want from your feed reader is organizing your feeds into particular folders. My Google Reader is sorted by topic, plus a special folder for commenters on Kikolani. Since Google Reader lets you add one feed to multiple folders, I can have commenters all in one plus in their respective topics. This way, I can catch up on news on the subjects I’m interested in, or see recent posts from my readers to see what they are talking about.

Other RSS Cleanup Methods

  • Unsubscribe from feeds that you recognize you are not benefiting from.
  • Put feeds that have excessive updates in a folder all to themselves. That way you don’t lose a good article in a sea of minor updates from one site.

Gmail Labels

Although the following is mostly about Gmail, some of the tips can be applied on other email systems as well.

Email filters should be applied from the moment you start receiving something new, whether it is a newsletter or alerts from your bank. This is why I love Gmail. You can label incoming items and have them appear in your inbox or skip the inbox entirely, and have them marked read or unread.

Take my Kikolani Comments label. I have comments that need to be moderated go straight to the Kikolani Comments label marked as unread, so I can easily see when new comments have arrived. But I have pingbacks that I have approved go to the Comments folder marked as read.

I have certain emails labeled but still hit my inbox so I can see them immediately, but can easily archive them without having to label each one as it arrives. I have social network notifications go in designated folders based on the network and if any action is needed, such as accepting requests or checking out new followers. It’s amazing how much less daunting your inbox is if there isn’t a slew of new emails piled up in it daily. At least when the emails are organized, you can handle things whenever you are ready to.

Other Email Cleanup Methods

  • Give newsletter subscriptions their own label (especially the ones you know you probably aren’t interested in aside from getting the free ebook or other freebie that enticed you into signing up in the first place). If you haven’t read the subscription in a month or so, browse the label, confirm you don’t need it, and then unsubscribe and delete the label.
  • Star items that need action. This way, even if you filter / archive them, you can find your Starred items in one place, no matter what category they fall in.

Your Organization Methods

Are you becoming overwhelmed with social media and other sources of information? How do you organize your incoming feeds in order to prevent becoming overloaded by particular networks or people?

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Comments

  1. says

    Great post Kristi! Thanks for the helpful tips. Here’s another idea to keep in mind when using Facebook friends lists. Keeping the number of friends on a given list to 20 or less will allow you to also use your lists for messaging purposes.
    .-= New from Step Morgan Death By Facebook =-.

  2. says

    I ceased sending blog comment moderation messages to my email box a while ago; it’s more productive for me to visit my blog’s administrative queue 1x or 2x a day and do everything at once.

    As for StumbleUpon, I don’t use the SU toolbar as I rarely browse what other people are stumbling. Rather, I invoke the Shareaholic bookmarklet and can stumble things with the click of a dropdown menu.
    .-= New from Ari Herzog@Online Media Strategies Introducing a 5-Part Series on Enhancing Blog Comments =-.

  3. says

    I commonly unsubscribe to SU users that I don’t have anything in common with, I had one that sent me pages constantly about VoIP, I have no interest in that stuff.

    I try to keep my feed reader (google) cleaned out everyday, or atleast every other day, because I get anal about it getting more than a few hundred in it.

    Email, I am just screwed with that one LOL
    .-= New from Keith@ Hot Blog Tips Comment Links: Are They SEO? =-.

  4. says

    Thanks for these tips. They’re really great! It’s really a good thing that there are systems that we can use to get organized. I also agree with Michael to only connect with people that are worth connecting to. Quality is more important than quantity.
    .-= New from Andrew@BloggingGuide My Blogging Guide Blog Is One Year Old =-.

  5. says

    Another very helpful post Kristi. I’ve been working since the beginning of the year to free up time and concentrate on what’s important. Just this morning I realized I had gotten carried away with Google Alerts. I just deleted most of them and set the others at ‘once a day’ to help ease up my inbox.
    .-= New from Brian D. Hawkins 5 Money Making Tips For Newbies =-.

  6. says

    Excellent post there, Kristi! I already apply some of these techniques. With some venues, like Facebook, I just can’t be bothered. I log in every now and again and catch up on whatever the latest posts are.
    .-= New from Anne Moss I’m Not Posting Today =-.

  7. says

    Following many people on Twitter, in my opinion, almost always gets frustrating, sooner or later.

    Until I learned about TweetDeck, I used to have an account just for following interesting people, plus my main account, which I used regularly.

    And thanks for mentioning Gmail Labels, I’m going to implement that one right away.
    .-= New from Dennis New Design For Gnoted & New Name For It’s Author =-.

  8. says

    I still haven’t started working with Twitter lists, although I probably should. You’re right, it might take a little time, but it would be well worth it once everything is organized a little better.

    My organizational methods have been to drop the service, completely. I feel my role is more to understand how to use certain things, than actually participate as a going concern in somethings, like StumbleUpon. I used it, I understand it, but I don’t anymore simply because of time.

    Twitter is slowly becoming like that for me too.
    .-= New from Wayne John Finding an optimal screen resolution for your web sites =-.

  9. says

    Great tips and advise! I have been slightly overwhelmed with my facebook account and just recently created a personal gmail account. I wasn’t to thrilled with th gmail layout and configuration, most likely because Im not familiar with it, but the labeling and filtering options you mention give it some hope for me in my own personal case. thanks for the insightful article and recommendations.

  10. says

    Wow Kristi!
    You’re a dynamo. Just reading all these suggestions I was like – wow. Great ideas and I should start doing that shouldn’t I? I will – promise. I know it’s gonna benefit me in the end. The folders in gmail thing- I already do that. I also unsubscribed from newsletters that don’t really add to my life.
    I think that organizing is one of the best ways to keep our minds clear and able to focus on our goals.
    Thanks for the reminders.
    All the best,
    Eren
    .-= New from Eren Mckay How to deal with grief and loss =-.

  11. says

    Excellent post Kristi,

    But there’s one regarding Twitter that you seem to be missing, ” Social Oomph ” !
    This is a great platform for auto posting, auto follow / unfollow, auto messaging & basically keeping a tight control of your Twitter account.

    Great Work
    Steve
    .-= New from Steve 55 Top Tips – Website Promotion =-.

  12. says

    As much I love networking, I must admit the thought of covering all at the same time is overwhelming. :) For me, Twitter Lists is a life-saver; have been using the suggested FB grouping strategy for easy follow ups too. I must admit there are more to be done but I’m continuously searching for smarter ways that fit – until then, categorization is my best option. ^^

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker
    .-= New from Ching Ya @ Social Media Blogging 7 Features to Brand, Market, Manage with MarketMe Tweet =-.

  13. says

    Excellent, excellent tips as always Kristi. About two weeks ago I really started to feel the “season crunch” in our two offline business’s and decided to really spend about an hour each night updating to-do lists and the programs and apps I use to make basic tasks simplified, it’s paying off in my productivity in a big way.
    .-= New from Extreme John A Day in the Life of.. Episode 4 [video] =-.

  14. says

    Very helpful post, Kristi! I found twitter lists extremely helpful in sorting out my twitter friends and consolidating specific updates into different themes. I have 10 lists so far, grouped into categories of personal development, online friends, blogging, etc – http://twitter.com/celestinechua/lists. Regarding facebook, the recent barrage of application spamming has been quite annoying. I blocked almost all the applications I could see, so hopefully that’ll help now. Else I might have to resort to blocking people from posting on my wall, which I’m leaving as a last option!
    .-= New from Celestine Chua My Latest Media Coverage in Simply Her Magazine =-.

  15. says

    Really good set of tips and suggestions. I love Twitter Lists. And your point on RSS feeds has me motivated to finally go in and clean out a bunch of feeds that I have in my Reader but never check. It seems like I’m paring down my sources/feeds/friends/followers in a number of areas to simplify life. A bit of Spring cleaning.
    .-= New from Mike @ Computer Tips ScanCafe Medium Format Black and White Negative Scanning =-.

  16. says

    Thanks for these tips. I recently stopped receiving my blog comments in my email as it seems easier to go through the admin. panel. At least that is the case for now.

    Now I have to clean up my feed reader…

  17. says

    Brings back memories of when I joined twitter. I used quite a handful of those automated softwares to gain followers and ended up with tons of spammy tweeters. Took me time but I finally unfollowed them all and till date I only follow those I’m interested in especially blog authors and friends. I turned off the alert for new followers so I’m not tempted to follow every tom, dick and harry that follows me ;-). Twitter Karma was really helpful.

    With regards to facebook, I don’t mind adding all my friends updates to my newsfeed. What i can stand though are the incessant invitation to play some silly game or the other. The latest is having your name tagged to a picture in which you don’t even appear so that you can leave a comment on the picture. It’s mighty frustrating and I’ve kinda started a crusade against it. If you tag me unnecessarily, I’ll unfriend you after a warning.
    .-= New from Udegbunam Chukwudi | StrictlyOnlineBiz Start Your Make Money Online Biz With Just $10 NOW! =-.

  18. says

    Hi Kristi I’ve just read your about me and I really enjoyed knowing a little of background of you at first I thought you were a Filipino but I was wrong, anyway I’ve also seen your cats and dogs and they’re really cute. And this post of yours will surely help me fix my things :D

    Regards,
    Vins

  19. says

    Managing all the social networking sites you are signed up to can be a complete nightmare.

    I know sometimes, after a weekend of not checking your emails, i find my inbox flooded with unrelated emails from people on my ‘friends’ list about saving some local cafe or sign this petition and we will topple the government.

    It’s so easy to get overwhelmed on any of these sites and go with the flow by adding/accepting posts/friends/pages.

    Your post makes me want to organise my profiles, however, having the time is another thing!

    Thanks for your insight.

    Mark

  20. says

    I am a new reader of Kikolani.com but I feel that my 2 years learning about blogging is still far from knowing and I read a lot of new things for me, indeed, useful for my own improvement.
    Overwhelmed, yes, that’s what I always feel in the last 2 years, I feel STRESSED. I’ve done one of your point here though. That is, Labeling email in my Gmail. The others are new for me.Thank you Kristi, it’s absolutely useful to get me more organized.
    Danny just posted Geld Verdienen Leicht Gemacht

  21. says

    I agree with this! Though at first, when you’re trying to manage all your followers and friends on Twitter and FB respectively, or putting labels on your GMail, it would really consume much time and would probably bore you. But it the benefit is truly satisfying!

  22. says

    Kristi

    thanks for the article. I have installed the TwitterDeck, as it is a bit confusing and time confusing to log into different accounts on a few platforms. I wanted to have them in one place.
    I remember Siimon Reynolds ( from The fortune Institute) saying that he wanted to spend 5 minutes a day on social media.

    from my side- I started by clearing my google accounts- unsubscribing from all sorts of lists. quite many people talk about the same stuff but just different words are used, no need to read them. It saved a lot of time!

    best, Martyna
    Martyna Bizdra just posted The Leadership Skills of the Future Part II

  23. says

    Hello Krisit,
    Thanks for the tips. I stopped using twitter about 8 months ago because I felt that it was just wasting my time and it seemed like it was just a bunch of people trying to get everyone to buy their stuff. However, I just downloaded tweet deck after reading your article and I think I may start using it again now that I know how to block out all of the noise. I was pretty excited to see that I could access linked in and facebook right from the deck as well. Thanks for the information, time to plug back in to the social scene :-)
    Damon Day just posted Damon Day and Associates Responds to Anonymous Attack

  24. says

    I think my biggest problem was having many friends on Facebook that I didn’t control the feed. then I try to filter the feed to only my really close friends that share the activity together.

  25. says

    I have my reader organized too, maybe not the best folder structure, but it at least helps me to determine which blogs I need to visit first when I’m behind. For me, the first blogs I visit are the ones where people have stopped by my blog to comment. I figure if they’ve taken the time to leave a comment it’s only right to put their blogs on the top of my to-visit list.
    TJ McDowell just posted Redesigned Photography Blog – A Service Trade

  26. says

    My organizational tip?

    I stopped actively using Twitter and Facebook altogether and aim to bring all the traffic back to my blog where I can interact with them much more successfully.

    Right or wrong, this is the way I stay sane.
    Ana just posted CommentLuv Premium

  27. says

    The fact that that most social media sites are moving towards lists features, such as Google+ circles, Facebooks list and Twitter lists, should remind all publishers of the importance of providing interesting content everytime you post.

    It’s now so easy to just ignore someone, and lets be honest it’s actually quite necessary to do what with all the spammers on most of the networks. But what if, in a day of prolific tweeting, you end up annoying a follower who then moves you off the list? Then you are gone for good (at least in their world).

    I think most people will give someone the benefit of the doubt for a while, so you only have that “trial period” to get on their radar and win trust.