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 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.
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.
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.
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?