All too true:
After two days without Twitter, I barely missed it; by the second week, I was downright happy not to be thinking about "staying on top" of my feed. I've uninstalled Tweetdeck from my phone, and going forward will only use Twitter to post links to my own blog posts. So my first piece of advice is that you should just stop using Twitter altogether, or find a way to show only those tweets that contain links.
While I tend to check in on Twitter a couple times a day, I agree completely that the feeling that it's necessary to stay on top of your feed is ridiculous. It's one of those kinds of manufactured urgency that we use to make ourselves feel busy or important or just like everyone else who's overworked and stressed and pepetually behind.
A few weeks ago, I took Facebook and Twitter off my iPhone (though I replaced Facebook with FB Messages), and haven't missed them. No, that's not true. I have missed them occasionally, but I have no regrets about removing them, and don't plan to reinstall them. The phone is just not a congenial platform for reading-- and especially writing-- tweets, any more than it's a good platform for long-form composition. Writing 140 characters that are worth reading takes enough effort; I don't need the additional work of battling the tiny screen of my iPhone.
And, just as important, there's simply no situation in my life where I need to tweet in real time. None at all.
I'm in the midst of another experiment with my phone: I've created a 40-second ringtone that consists of silence, and assigned it to anyone who's not a short list of family, close friends, and colleagues; that second group has a purposely loud ringtone, and an alert when they email or text me. We think of being always-connected as a great thing, and it can be-- if you're ruthless about who you're always connected to. The mobile phone makes no distinction between people who matter to you and people who don't; it defaults to overconnection. Even the iPhone is pretty unsubtle in this regard: it's easy to silence all calls, but you can't make a whitelist; you have to go person-by-person, changing their default ringtone or message tone. It's a bit of a pain, and I'm surprised that Apple's not more socially nuanced.
What I've found after several weeks is that I haven't missed a single call that matters. I've missed a lot of spam calls, appeals for donations, alumni fundraisers, and all sorts of other things. The only times I've missed calls from family are when I had my phone off, or in another room, or something.
So I recommend the whitelist. Let the technology work for you: make it possible for the people you care about to reach you, and provide the rest of the world the opportunity to take your attention when it's convenient for you to give it.
The next experiment I'm going to try is to not carry my phone on me, but to leave it in my bag, with the ringer turned up high. I confess I get a bit of an anxious twinge just thinking about it-- which is exactly why I should do it.