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No-No-November Week 1: Do Less.

It happened. It’s November, and the holidays are just around the corner. This year I will be ready for them. I’ve officially begun my No-No-November pre-holiday life declutter and you are welcome to join me.

In preparation for the holidays I will use November to reduce, remove, quit, stop, and minimize as many nonessential tasks, belongings, activities, people, habits, and projects as possible so that I can enjoy every minute the season has to offer. The hope is that this proactive effort will not only bring peace and harmony to the holiday season but when 2018 arrives I will be ready to embrace all the possibilities the New Year has to offer.

To meet my goal, I will be doubling down on my “NO” philosophy for the next month in hopes of enjoying the bigger YES’s this holiday season.

Implementing a “NO” philosophy can mean different things to different people but, in general, it is about having free time instead of a packed schedule, enough sleep instead of daily exhaustion, open spaces instead of excessive clutter, peace of mind instead of stress and anxiety, a smaller environmental footprint instead of hyperconsumption, and much more (or much less depending on how you look at it).

For the first week of November, I will stop or minimize unnecessary activities. By getting rid of pointless, unrewarding, or redundant tasks in my life, time will be freed up for some traditional decluttering, which will be the focus of Week 2. Week 3 will be a chance to minimize virtual clutter and Week 4 will be a chance to ditch anything that is still in need of attention after Thanksgiving.

Everyone’s list may be a little different but this list of 10 activities is a good start. Consider quitting, reducing, or postponing until after the holidays:

1.) Watching TV – It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If you watch 2 hours a day, consider cutting it down to 1. If you are a Netflix binger, consider limiting yourself to weekends only and for a set amount of time. Perhaps you can take advantage of options that allow you to at least skip the commercials.

2.) Attending nonproductive meetings – If you are in a position at work to cancel meetings that are not particularly productive, do it. If there are meetings that you could skip without penalty, skip them. Consider incorporating a strategy of SCRUM-inspired standup meetings that can help keep meetings short and focused.

3.) Housekeeping unnecessarily – Does it really make a difference if you make your bed perfectly every morning and put all 10 decorative pillows back in place? If it doesn’t bring real joy or function to your life – stop doing it. Don’t put dishes in the sink just to put them in the dishwasher later – just put them in the dishwasher in the first place. Place a moratorium on any meal that uses more than 5 ingredients – this will keep your kitchen tidier with little effort.

4.) Playing on your phone – Are you one of the last people in America still addicted to Candy Crush? Maybe it is time to give it up. Do you scroll through Twitter stories for hours? Is Buzzfeed your Achilles heel? Have you ever texted “what’s up” to 10 different people in a row? Studies show you’ll be happier & less stressed with a little less phone time, especially if you use the time you save for something you love.

5.) Waiting in line – Do you find yourself waiting in lines more often than you’d like? Stop going to the store during peak hours. Plan better to avoid rush. Do you go to the store multiple times a week? Make a personal commitment to go less often and ALWAYS have a list. Consider a personal policy that you won’t allow yourself to go to the store unless you have at least 10 things on your list. When you aren’t eating at home, make restaurant reservations.

6.) Wasting time stuck in traffic – Being stuck in traffic is usually a pretty big waste of time. It can be avoided by taking public transportation so that you can accomplish other things while you ride, avoiding rush hour with creative scheduling, using Google Maps every morning to check for traffic updates the same way you would check the weather, or working from home if your job permits.

7.) Participating in committees and organizations – Some organizations are important and worthwhile, but some just aren’t. Be honest about whether your involvement is a good use of your time and energy. Don’t feel guilty for wanting to spend your time the way you want to. It’s okay to quit some things that are no longer important to you.

8.) Consuming “fast” food – Going out to eat or zipping out for a cup of coffee is usually not so fast after all. By the time you decide to go, get your coat on, get to where you’re going, order, wait, and return, you probably could have spent less time and money either by packing a sack lunch or by bringing in a small coffee pot to the office. You could always just stick with water or instant tea. (I can’t in good conscience suggest instant coffee – but you do you.)

9.) Browsing online - Notice that I didn’t say shopping online. Shopping online, when done right, can save lots of time, fuel, and frustration, but browsing online is a whole other thing. In truth, it’s pretty much just a hobby, that frequently leads to unnecessary purchases and wasted money. If you are going to shop online, always have a specific goal, list, budget, and time limit.

10.) Overindulging – A 5-course meal that leaves you stuffed and lethargic should be avoided. A night of excessive drinking that leaves you groggy, dragging, and unproductive the next day is something to resist when you can. Pulling an all-nighter for work or school can lead to days of sub-

optimal performance & even leaves you susceptible to sickness. The candy binge that leads to the sugar crash will probably be regretted, so why do it?

This list is a pretty good start for most of us. Try them all or some or come up with your own, but think about what you can avoid or reduce or quit. See these changes as an investment that will pay out in dividends for the rest of the year and beyond.

I'd love to hear what are saying NO to this No-No-November.

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