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No-No-November Week 3: Scroll Less.

It happened again. Another week of November has slipped by us. I am beginning to hear the undeniable buzz and sense the escalating hubbub that ushers in the holidays. There are 2 weeks of No-No-November pre-holiday decluttering behind me with just 2 more to go. I hope you will join me in my quest to have a great holiday season by proactively reducing, removing, quitting, stopping, and minimizing as many nonessential activities, belongings, habits, and projects as possible.

In Week 1, I quit or reduced as many unnecessary activities as I could. Last week, I conducted a specialized No-No-November house and office declutter where I ditched as many unwanted items as possible in hopes of freeing up space and simplifying my daily routine.

This week I will be deleting, removing, or unsubscribing from as many sources of virtual clutter (v-clutter) as possible. Although we may love the convenience, power, and freedom that our technology offers, more and more of us are feeling overwhelmed by the excessive v-clutter that distracts our attention, challenges our focus, and allows important information to slip through the cracks. By thinning out what has already accumulated and implementing some changes to slow the onslaught of new v-items, I hope to become more flexible and productive with less effort. I’m going to focus on ridding myself of 4 common v-problems: emails, photos, apps, and social media.

1.) Email – More studies everyday are proving that email is actually making us less productive and it is encroaching on valuable down time. Two things must happen to get control of email: 1.) Slow the flow of new email. and 2.) Delete what has accumulated. I suggest slowing the flow first so that once you begin your grand sweep of old, unneeded emails the results are more likely to last.

First, go into your trash folder and unsubscribe from any unwanted email that you have gotten in the last 2 weeks. Next, make a commitment to unsubscribe any additional emails as they are received. Tighten your filters or create rules to send more emails directly to trash. Check it once a week if this change makes you nervous. Put up away messages when you can to dissuade people from contacting you when you are away, especially on weekends. Don’t send emails unless it is really, really necessary & think twice about how many people you copy – it should come as no surprise that people will respond when you email them first, thus continuing the v-clutter cycle.

After you have taken some steps to slow the incoming emails, it’s time to do some serious deleting. Some tried & true methods including deleting anything that is X number of days (weeks? months?... dare I say years?) old. Consider sorting by sender or subject so that you can potentially delete entire blocks of email you don’t need. At some point you should probably just go email by email and delete, file, or reply. If you are a risk-taker, you could always just delete everything and just see what happens – I will be right here living vicariously through you & applauding your boldness. Good luck.

2.) Photos – Most of us have folders and folders full of v-photos we will never look at again. However, since this is a time constrained v-clutter declutter, just focus on removing all unwanted screenshots, pictures of your thumb, and accidental photo bursts from your phone would be the best use of the time allotted. All remaining photos can be downloaded off your phone and into a well-marked folder (for now).

3.) Apps – Whether on your phone, tablet, or computer, all the extra apps you don’t use could probably be deleted without even being missed. If you are hesitant to delete them, at least slide them into a folder marked “Delete Nov 1, 2018.” If you realize you actually do need one or two you can slide them back out, but if you don’t use them, they can be the first thing that gets deleted in the No-No-November 2018 edition.

4.) Social Media – For me there are 3 levels of actual “friends.” Those I’d take a bullet for, those I’d give money to, and those I’d cross the mall to talk to even if they were clear on the other side. Everyone should have their own idea of what a real friend is. Whatever your definition, you should compare it to your Facebook friends, Instagram friends, Snapchat friends, etc & perhaps, just maybe, thin out those that don’t make the cut. I’d hate for you to miss seeing a picture of a real friend holding a corgi because it was lost among pictures of people you don’t actually care about holding corgis. You can always be braver and deactivate or delete your social media all together.

For the record, I wouldn’t talk you out of it if you decided to get really ambitious and thin through dated texts, old documents, phone alerts, or your out-of-control desktop. Just remember the goal is to clear out what is cluttering your virtual world in hopes of enhancing your real one that is soon to be filled with the peace and joy of the holiday season.

What other virtual clutter will you be conquering?

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