Uncluttering with Twitter

TwitterWhen I learned that Alex Payne, a Twitter developer, is a fan of Unclutterer, I immediately asked if he would be interested in writing an article for our site. Alex has vast insight into the workings and possibilities of Twitter, and the following article explains how it can be used to help unclutter your communications.

Working on Twitter, I see all sorts of interesting uses of our service. Twitter is a great way to keep up with friends and family, but it can also be a great way to keep up with everything going on in your life without cluttering things up with sticky notes, emails, and other junk. Clever developers have come up with extensions to Twitter’s functionality purpose–built for notes, events, reminders, and even whom you owe a beer to.

Most of these Twitter “bots” work the same way: you follow a given user on Twitter, then you send commands to that user. Sometimes those commands are sent in public and sometimes they require a direct message (“d username this is my message”). Either way, you can interact with bots on the Twitter website, via SMS or IM, or with a client like Twitterrific.

TwitterNotes is a superb replacement for sticky notes or a notepad, especially when you’re on the road. After following tnotes on Twitter, just post an update prefixed with a plus sign like, say, “+ take out the trash later.” Don’t want everyone to see your notes? Try “d tnotes do super secret stuff.” You can then retrieve your notes on the TwitterNotes site, or subscribe to a feed of your notes. The GTDers out there will appreciate TwitterNote’s tagging abilities.

There are a couple of good options if you need to keep track of what’s coming up on your calendar. Timer is the simplest program: just send it a direct message like “d timer 15 check the laundry” and you’ll get your reminder back in 15 minutes. If you need something more full-featured, the popular online task management service Remember The Milk has excellent Twitter integration.

Ever forget who you promised some liquid appreciation to? You can use recently-launched Foamee to keep track of your sudsy debts. After following ioubeer, just send updates like “@ioubeer @crystal for answering Twitter support requests.” Collect your IOUs on the Foamee site when you’re back at your computer.

You can find a host of Twitter bots at retweet, a blog dedicated to finding the best in bots. You’ll also find other useful ways to interact with Twitter on our downloads page and on the Twitter Fan Wiki’s list of apps. It’s easy and fun to put Twitter to work for you, and always surprising what you can do with a simple text message.

11 Comments for “Uncluttering with Twitter”

  1. posted by Marie on

    These are some great points for those of us seeking to eventually achieve a paper-free workstation. Thanks!

  2. posted by Adrienne on

    Thanks for the brilliant review of Twitterific options for fellow GTDers.

    I currently use a Palm OS/Windows application called Bonsai but now that I have moved to Mac and Treo 680 with an unlimited data plan I would MUCH rather ubiquitous capture and review from something like Twitter and RSS…..both go EVERYWHERE!!!!!

    This is definitely worth a try.

  3. posted by Nick on

    Look into Sandy as well which has good integration with Twitter http://www.iwantsandy.com

  4. posted by Andamom on

    Umm I haven’t wanted to sign up for Twitter because I just don’t see the benefit.

    I already have accounts with Facebook, LinkedIn, and who knows what else just to stay in touch. I have at least 4 different instant messaging programs (AIM, Yahoo, MSN, Sametime at work, etc.). I have my own blog and I blog occassionally on LJ. Seriously, if someone wants to stay in contact with me and know what I am doing, s/he can certainly find a way (Where there’s a will, there’s a way…)

    Now you want me to sign up for yet another program? Seriously — My husband keeps trying to get us to sign up for Remember the Milk – or Backpack to get our task list together. Yet, I have avoided that like the plague and prefer instead to use one piece of paper that is stuck with a magnet to our white-board. It may sound neolithic –but it actually works and if our cable goes down (like it did for 3 days thanks to our ‘friends’ at Time Warner), I can just walk on over to the white-board or take the list with me to the store to remind me that I need to buy Gabriel new diapers or need to scan those slides my in-laws brought back from Japan in 1973. You get the point I think though…

    If not, the point is that I need to see — for all additional apps (and Twitter is no different) that it adds value. Tell me how Twitter will improve my life and streamline the way I do things.

  5. posted by Erin @ Unclutterer on

    @Andamom — Most people, myself included, access Twitter via cell phone or Blackberry. Whether your internet connection is working or not is irrelevant. Addtionally, Twitter is not a social networking site like LinkedIn or Facebook. Twitter is a communication tool.

  6. posted by PJK on

    I feel like I just tuned into a movie that has already been playing for an hour. What is a bot? What is SMS? I gather IM is instant messaging? I can “interact with these bots with a client like Twitterrific?” Now if you said a “product like Twitterrific” I could kind of follow, but the part about a client has me totally confused. As far as I know, clients are people that hire a business owner, lawyer, etc…

    Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like this article assumes we already know what twitter is and how to get it. I’m sure if I googled and read other sources, I could figure it out, but I get the feeling I’ve missed something. I guess there’s not even enough here for me to “grasp” and feel curious to learn more. This seems to be just giving extra details for people who are already users of this thing?

  7. posted by Steve on

    This is artificial simplification. The best way to unclutter with Twitter (and all those other apps) is just to not use them!

    After all, if no one can remember who owes who a beer, does it really matter?

  8. posted by ??? on

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  9. posted by Pauline on

    I’ve just started using Remember the Milk for Gmail, and I love it!

  10. posted by establi on

    Can You Sell A Twitter Account?

  11. posted by Unclutterer now on Twitter | Unclutterer on

    […] so consider joining if it seems like a service you might enjoy. Also, check out our post “Uncluttered ways to use Twitter” by Alex Payne to learn about ways that Twitter can help you be organized and productive. […]

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