Towards the end of 2008 and my second year of university I made a conscious decision to spend less time reading academic papers and more time immersing myself in the digital world where I could learn from those who were working in the areas that I was reading about. It was this initial interest in the digital and social space that eventually saw me transition into a career in the same field.
A couple of years of hard work and dedication saw me connect with over 500 contacts on LinkedIn who all had interesting updates to keep up with. A google reader feed with over 100 blogs publishing must read posts every day. A twitter stream that didn’t seem to ever stop and that I’d be never be able to keep up with.
Just like you can feel overwhelmed by having too many possessions in your life that weigh you down I started to feel that I had amassed to many digital touch points that required my attention, so rather than do something about it I ended up ignoring them all for a while. On top of my personal use I also had changed jobs that now required me to manage social media communities for both my work and side projects. By this stage I felt like there was no way I could keep on top of it all.
Rather then be defeated by my technology I decided to embrace technology and use it to take back control. So here is a combination of tools and tips that I’ve implemented over the past few months to increase my efficiency, add value to my networks and continue to learn from others.
For a long time I scoured the internet to find the best business, tech and creative events in my city. I spent hours searching twitter for the best articles to read across all topics. Whilst also looked through job boards for potential opportunities for both myself and my network. The Fetch was created due to the founder going through the same process and thinking that there must be a better way. Well now there is. The Fetch is a weekly email digest that you can subscribe to in your city. They summarise the best business, digital and creative events on for the week whilst also curating the web for you to list the must read articles and hot jobs. I’ve become such a fan of The Fetch that I even volunteer as a community ambassador for London where I go along to events and review them for The Fetch blog.
The Fetch and Seth Godin’s blog is all that I subscribe to which keeps my inbox manageable. For months on end every morning I’d wake up and go through the same process of deleting emails that didn’t interest me. Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. So in order to not be qualified as insane I stopped deleting the emails and let them build up for a week. Then I searched in gmail ‘unsubscribe’ and went through all the unread emails that I used to delete and just unsubscribed from them. You’d be amazed how liberating it actually is.
Buffer has truly changed the way I use social media. I’d login into Twitter find all these great articles and retweet and share them all at once. What Buffer allows me to do is to still go through all the articles from The Fetch on a Monday morning but space them out over the week. I’ve currently got my Buffer set to share 3 tweets a day 7 days a week. So I can add 21 articles to the app on a Monday and know that they will be shared over the whole week. It has made for a better use of my time and hopefully also been useful to those who follow me.
Twitter lists have also been a saving grace that has stopped me from drowning a social media death. I used to follow nearly 800 different twitter accounts making it nearly impossible to actually keep up with any of them. Twitter lists will take some time to set up but once done effectively it will actually allow you to get value out of twitter. I’ve set up lists based on 7 different themes. Digital, HR, Health Care, Travel, Agencies & Brands. By using Tweetdeck I can quickly scroll through the different lists based on what I’m looking for at the time. I now only follow just over 200 twitter accounts of people who I’ve actually met in real life or have worked with in some capacity online which keeps it both relevant and personal for me.
Medium is the latest member to join my elite list of time saving tools and tips. Medium is a website and community for the conversations that are too long to have on twitter. Created by one of the founders of twitter it has some amazing articles on the site that will challenge your thinking, make you laugh and ultimately inspire you. You can read my first article that I wrote on Medium here.
One of my mentors once told me that if you spend all day replying to other people’s emails then you’re ticking off their to do list and not yours. This also applies to the world of blogs and articles, if you spend all day reading other peoples work then you’re becoming another stat on a chart for them but when are you giving yourself time to write your own story?
Hopefully that has helped and remember that the world won’t stop if you miss a couple of tweets or mashable articles. In the end if you have a process like this in place the important ones will find their way to you.