How To Escape The Noise

Are you easily distracted? I have found that after spending a year working from home, without the constant interaction with fellow colleagues it's easy for other elements to fight for my attention, not least of which is social media.

I've never been the most active on the social places, but I have used them lots to see what's happening, look at photos and read the news. More a viewer than a writer.

I have Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. I even have a Snapchat account, but that is never used. I did have a play with TikTok for a few weeks during the last year, but I guess I'm not really their target audience! In the (distant) past I also had a Google+ account (remember that?) on which I was quite active, but that went by the wayside. In fact, I tried to replace Facebook with Google+ at one point!

I don't have totally negative feelings towards social media, it definitely has its place, but it creates a large amount of noise and distraction, with all the inane self-promotion and advertising.

Maybe I'm just getting old and less tolerant!

If you feel the same way, read on to find out what I did to escape the noise and cut down on the distractions in my 'online' life.


I had an epiphany - time to purge Facebook from my daily life. I never really posted, just followed, and posts that are just "me", "me", "me", or "I bet I know the ones who will read to the end of this post..." blah blah really didn't interest me.

It's just another kind of spam. Yes. I know I could unfollow these people, but...

I did unfollow a load of companies that I didn't want to see; and I searched for (you have to really dig into the settings), and set the setting that stopped Facebook seeing what I was doing and then feeding me related posts.

Of course, if I need to find a local decorator, or have a desperate need to know something about a local issue, I can still use it; but it's not my focus. I turned off all notifications and that's it.

After Facebook, I thought about the other sites I use. YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.


Instagram was easy - it's the same noise here too, just a lot more visual. All those videos and posts of food, fashion, cars, holidays.... I was quite active myself on Instagram, but again, what I saw was just distracting and I couldn't concentrate on anything. So I stopped using it. In fact, I deleted the app from my phone.

I still use YouTube, there are quite a lot of videos I find interesting, and I refer to LinkedIn on an ad-hoc basis. It's not somewhere I spend a lot of time.

That just leaves Twitter.


For the last couple of years I have had two accounts; one personal and one for my Productivity Matters account. I was working hard using scheduling site Buffer, to schedule posts across the two, and I did create an enormous amount of content. However, I realised that it was becoming unmanageable, and this was not particularly friendly to those who follow me. What's more, I started to blur the lines between what I was posting on my personal account, versus the productivity led account.

Something had to change, and it all came to a head recently as I became totally and completely fed up with working both of them.

It's decision time.

Kill one of the accounts!

My personal Twitter account is over 12 years old (yes, really) and I felt a certain sense of loyalty towards it.

This is the account I've kept and the other has now become dormant.

I stopped all of the scheduled posts and I turned off all notifications.

I also stopped following accounts from that one and I no longer post to it (although, for some strange reason, people still continue to follow it!)

In time, I will delete the account.

On my personal account I have followed the majority of those accounts again, but the one thing I have done is to create more lists.


Originally, I never really 'got' lists. I know they can be either public or private and, in fact, I do have one public list, for Formula 1, but I realised that using private lists means not having my general timeline filled with absolutely everything, and I can still see and react to those in which I'm interested.

Accounts I find particularly interesting sometimes get 'promoted' to a follow! (lucky them!)

On the Twitter app on my phone, I have pinned my five favourite lists, and they appear on the home page in the app; so I can quickly jump between them.

Twitter Fleets

Facebook has stories, as does Instagram. Twitter has Fleets. It's exactly the same concept, but with a different name.

Fleets are for sharing thoughts, but are only visible to followers for 24 hours, after which they disappear. I started to use them as a quick way to share something that doesn't need to be kept forever! Fleets are visible in the banner at the top of the timeline.

Twitter Spaces

This is a new feature that, at the time of publishing, is being rolled out. This is a live audio conversation. I've joined a few of these now, and whilst I don't participate, it's really interesting to listen to the host and guests discuss various subjects. Space conversations appear at the top of your feed, where you see the Fleets.


To make the experience a little easier, and since I have many lists, I use TweetDeck on my MacBook. This allows me to view my lists in realtime, on a larger screen than a mobile phone.

It's great, because each of the lists along with my general time-line automatically updates - I also don't need to click to refresh it, which makes it easy to keep up with everything.

Using TweetDeck has helped to keep me 'on task' and be less distracted. No more constantly checking Facebook (or getting notifications) to see what the neighbours dog is doing(!) and no more food photos on Instagram.

Just one place to keep in touch with the news and subjects that I'm interested in hearing about.

Plus - if there's anything I want to know more about, I simply share the tweet to Pocket, and read the entire article later; so it doesn't get lost.

I finally feel like I've reduced the noise of using multiple social media apps and only see the information that I want and, more importantly, engage with.

No more noise or self-congratulatory posts.

For productivity hints and tips and lots more, you can follow me on Twitter at

Or, you could add me to a list.