I've settled on a few simple things to make Twitter work for me.
Don't Stand in the River, Take What You Want
I've stopped using Twitter over SMS and don't expect to start. My main Twitter access is via the wonderful Twitterific on the Mac and Hahlo on my iPhone. I've found that I need to keep SMS traffic down and limit it to mainly texting with other people. Twitter on SMS became obnoxious. The problem for me is that SMS creates a queue of unread Tweets that you need to catch up with. This is what I refer to as not standing in the river. Instead, just dip in when you wish. No worries if you missed a bunch of stuff. It's old anyway.
Don't Protect Updates
Here is the thing, protecting your updates just creates this sense that you could create a private tweet. There is no such thing. Remove the protection and just assume everyone reads your tweets. The other impact of this is that more people will follow you because they can see your tweets. More followers also makes Twitter more fun.
Follow More People
Perhaps the corollary to the item above; start following more people. This seems odd since the first impression is "Hey, isn't that going to make it more of a problem?" Well, that would be the case only if you stood in the river. I choose to dip in when I want, so I'm free to follow a larger group of people. This also makes Twitter more interesting, since distance helps.
Following people on Twitter that you see all the time is fine, but, start following some people that are thousands of miles away.