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No-No-November Week 3: Scroll Less. Chill More.

How are we halfway through November? With 2 weeks of No-No-November pre-holiday decluttering behind us we still have 2 full weeks to make things happen. Join me to ensure a fabulous holiday season by proactively reducing, removing, quitting, stopping, and minimizing as many nonessential activities, belongings, habits, and projects as possible.

This week’s goal is to ditch as many sources of virtual clutter as possible. Since a record number of us have been working or schooling from home this year our computers and cell phones have been lifelines. Unfortunately, there a price to pay with the excessive virtual clutter building up distracting our attention, hijacking our focus, and causing important information to slip through the cracks. The good news is that better managing just four main types of virtual clutter can help you regain control.

1.) Email – Everyday more studies are proving that email is actually making us less productive and it is encroaching on precious downtime. Two things must happen to get control of email. First, slow the flow of new email and, second, delete what has accumulated.

Step 1: Get into your trash folder and unsubscribe from any unwanted mail from the last month. Step 2: Tighten your filters or create rules to send more emails directly to your junk folder. Step 3: Make a commitment to unsubscribe to any additional unwanted emails that come your way.

Get in the habit of using away messages to dissuade people from contacting you unnecessarily when you are off the clock. Don’t send emails if a phone call would be faster. Think twice about how many people you copy – it should come as no surprise that people will respond when you email them, thus continuing the virtual-clutter cycle.

Once you have slowed email flow, it’s time to do some serious deleting in both your inbox and sent folder. 1.) Delete everything that is X number of days old (weeks? months?... dare I say years?) 2.) Sort by sender or subject so that you can delete entire blocks of emails you no longer need. 3.) Go email by email to delete, file, or reply to whatever remains in your inbox. (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.)

2.) Photos – Most of us have folders and folders of digital photos we will never look at again. For now just focus on removing the most egregiously pointless pictures: unwanted screenshots, pictures of your thumb, accidental photo bursts, people you never actually liked that much, and horrifically unflattering pictures. All remaining photos can be downloaded, organized or ignored (for now).

3.) Apps – Whether on your phone, tablet, or computer, all the unused apps could probably be purged without even being missed. If there are seldom-used apps you are hesitant to delete, slide them into a folder marked “Delete Nov 1, 2021.” If you realize you actually do need one or two you can slide them right back out, but if none get used in the next year, they can be the first thing that gets deleted in the No-No-November 2021 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 gladly cross the street to talk to (at a socially appropriate distance). 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. & thin out those that don’t make the cut. It would be a shame for you to miss seeing a picture of a real friend petting a corgi because it was lost among pictures of people you don’t actually care about petting corgis. You can always be super brave and deactivate or delete all your social media.

You could get really ambitious and thin through dated texts, old documents, phone alerts, or your out-of-control computer desktop. Just remember the goal is to clear out what is cluttering your virtual world in hopes of enhancing your real one.

Things are different this year going into the holidays but there will still be oodles of opportunities for joyous celebrations - so let’s be ready!


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