Although some hardcore Twitter fans might oppose, I think it’s fair to say Twitter is bad for productivity. The last ten minutes, I received eight “new Tweets” alerts. That’s 48 every hour, meaning I have 384 distraction moments during an ordinary 8-hour work day. And I only follow 151 people. How will I be able to focus on my blogging with the distraction monster called Twitter roaring in the background?
So after reading David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) a couple of months ago, I decided to determine standard times for Twitter. After a while I found this was called batch-processing. Darren Rowse advises in an excellent post how he discovered that most of the work that he does can be ‘batched’ in one way or another. So a 30-minute writing batch, a 20-minute email handling batch, and.., a 15-minute Twitter batch. I have been doing this for quite a while, and in terms of productivity, it works really well.
There’s a disadvantage to batching Twitter though
Although I’ve been writing more, thanks to controlling the Twitter-beast, I feel like I’m missing out on a great number of interesting conversations. If I open Twitter at 1pm, it’s too late to participate in an interesting “why blogging sucks”-discussion of 8am. The moment is over. Moreover, I don’t wanna be the guy who only sends stuff.
Tweetdeck to the rescue
But now there’s Tweetdeck. The service launched in beta early July, but suffered from Twitter offline time. When Frederic Lardinois from ReadWriteWeb reviewed the service, he wrote that with Twitter’s track function still being offline, Tweetdeck wouldn’t be suitable for everyone.
But the grouping feature got me excited (I already begged for it in March). The thing is, thanks to the batching, I noticed that specific people added the most value to discussions, posting interesting links or well thought over replies. What if I would make some sort of A-list? A really exclusive list of people of which I’m sure they post things I want to read right-a-way. I already have an A-list in my RSS reader, so why not on Twitter? Thanks to the handy column feature (see example below), I can take a look at my A-listera and save the other Twitter updates for later.
This is how Twitter became GTD-friendly for me
Ok, let’s use a bullet list to explain the way I Twitter now:
- I check my A-list of Twitterazi after I’ve finished a batch. Most batches take me 20 minutes, so I won’t miss any interesting discussions in which my A-listers are participating.
- I also check my replies column, as I want to respond asap
- My regular Twitter-batching habit stays the same. I still check the feeds of all my Twitter contacts three times the day.
- Whenever I feel like I missed an interesting discussion, I’ll add the person responsible for this to my A-list
- The result? I pick up interesting stories pretty quickly and find myself interacting more with my Twitter contacts
Although the mention of an A-list brings up associations with arrogance and endless lines at fancy clubs, it’s got nothing to do with that. It’s just a way for me to become a better blogger. I’ve shared it with you, so that you can use Twitter as a GTD-friendly tool as well.
Thanks Yaron for the tip!