Photo by Jay Levy


Posted May 01, 2009

Lifehacker: How to Filter and Manage Your Online Social Life

Lifehacker Article

by Kevin Purdey

You love your friends and enjoy your acquaintances, but their Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/MySpace activity is killing your productivity. Here's the two ways, "sledgehammer" and "scalpel," we recommend for keeping yourself in the loop while minimizing constant distractions.

Before we pull out the big guns, make sure you've taken a good look at the social sites you use and the information filtering features they offer. Facebook, for instance, offers a really great "Hide" tool that you get by hovering over the right-hand side of any update on your main "News Feed" page—click it, and you can either stop hearing from Suzy TalksTooMuch, or prevent anyone from ever telling you which Lord of the Rings race they'd belong to.

Also, these tools won't be new to regular readers with a flair for the web, but they are good at what they do, and worth forwarding to friends and relatives you've heard complaining about being overwhelmed. There's no substitute for willpower and time rationing, of course, but let's be realistic and show you how to manage your compulsive time-wasters:

The Sledgehammer: NutshellMail

It might seem counter-intuitive to sign up for another web service to majorly reshape the others, but you have no idea what kind of power NutshellMail can give you. It solves what we'll call the Email Alert Circle, which goes something like this:

  • You log into social sites and speed-read all the new stuff, but it's destroying your free time, and your brain! It's just too much. You stop visiting so often, but wish you could still get the most relevant stuff from them. So you switch to...
  • Oh, look, email alerts! Now you can get just the direct messages, replies, and relevant friend posts. Two weeks later ...
  • You're now avoiding your email inbox and decide it, too, is just too much.

So get a free account at NutshellMail. Authorize it to parse your Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and/or LinkedIn accounts, and it takes all those "John Smith commented on your status" and "Lindsay Jones sent you a direct message" emails you really don't need to see Right This Minute and delivers them in a digest whenever and however you want them.

But my Twitter replies are crucial to my self-est..I mean, it's an of-the-moment service!" you say. Fine—go ahead and schedule your NutshellMail updates to arrive every so many hours, depending on your addiction. You'll still get all the updates for everyone you're following, and you won't even have to hop into to reply, because NutshellMail lets you @ reply via email links.

For those who can be realistic about how connected they need to be, NutshellMail takes the constant back-to-work hurdles of email updates, known as bacn in some circles, and pounds them into one flat page of your kinda-need-to-know.

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