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How to deal with Twitter overload

David Chartier | Feb. 14, 2012
We've all been there. First you start following a couple people on Twitter. What's the harm in following a couple more?

We've all been there. First you start following a couple people on Twitter. What's the harm in following a couple more? Next thing you know, tweets are flying by faster than you can say "hashtag," and now you're backed into a #corner. It's natural to go on an unfollowing spree in cases like this. Why not? Those friends who use Twitter like a chat room probably won't notice, and if they do, you could just blame a Twitter fail whale. But the truth is, you don't have to. Instead, turn to plentiful apps, options, and tools to gracefully manage Twitter and keep tabs on as many accounts as you want.

Create lists for special interests

A key distinction on Twitter is that you can choose to either follow an account, add it to a list, or both. Following someone is the typical behavior--it means his or her updates will appear in your main Twitter timeline. Alternatively, you can create a list, add accounts to it, but not actually follow those accounts. Tweets from those accounts don't appear in your timeline, but if you're using the right Twitter app, your lists and the tweets therein are just a couple clicks or taps away.

By adding accounts to Twitter lists, you can basically create alternative timelines for just about any purpose you can think of. I've made around a dozen--some for business, some for pleasure--and I subscribe to five or six lists from others. One list I created is called simply "Apple News," and it has ten or so accounts that keep me in the know. On another list, called "humor," I add comedians who are great for a laugh, but who I don't want to constantly follow with my main timeline. Another one of my lists is private, called "must read," and it's a collection of close friends whose tweets I don't want to miss.

Creating a list at is pretty simple:

  • Find a tweet from an account you want to add to a list.
  • Click the avatar (or picture) that appears next to the tweet.
  • In the profile window that appears, click the person icon next to the Follow/Unfollow button. (This looks like a silhouette.)
  • In the menu that appears, click Add To List.
  • The Your Lists window appears with a list of any of your existing lists. Choose one of these or click Create A List.
  • If you're making a new list, give it a name and optional description, and then choose whether you want the list to be public (so other people can find and subscribe to it) or private (just for you). Click Save List.

You can now unfollow the person if you choose, because his or her tweets will appear in your new list. There, don't you feel a little better already? To access your lists at, click Lists. To see the lists someone else has created, go to his or her Twitter page and click on the Lists link. Click on a list to see the option to follow it.


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