Digital Decluttering: 11 Days to Organize, Simplify and Streamline Your Online Life | Emma Gannon | Skillshare
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Digital Decluttering: 11 Days to Organize, Simplify and Streamline Your Online Life

teacher avatar Emma Gannon, Author, Broadcaster, Podcast Host

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Introduction

      1:35

    • 2.

      Getting Started

      3:23

    • 3.

      Day 1: Offline Reflections

      6:11

    • 4.

      Day 2: Clean Up Social Media

      7:22

    • 5.

      Day 3: Optimize Your Email

      9:30

    • 6.

      Day 4: Manage Your Calendar

      7:37

    • 7.

      Day 5: Clear Unwanted Apps

      3:43

    • 8.

      Day 6: Tame Photo Overload

      5:08

    • 9.

      Day 7: Organize Your Music

      5:05

    • 10.

      Day 8: Secure Your Passwords

      1:47

    • 11.

      Day 9: Analyze Your Media Consumption

      11:36

    • 12.

      Day 10: Track Your Money

      5:12

    • 13.

      Day 11: Commitments and Final Thoughts

      2:34

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About This Class

Make room for more joy, calm, and mental well-being with this digital reset with Emma Gannon. 

As a bestselling author, podcaster, and newsletter creator, Emma Gannon has spent a lot of time in the digital world. With her life spent online only getting bigger and busier, Emma realized she needed to reclaim control over the constant notifications, overflowing inboxes, and overwhelming amount of apps, photos, and music on her digital devices. So she deleted the digital disarray, organized what mattered, and made room for the things she found joy in offline. Now, she wants to help you feel on top of your online and offline life by guiding you through eleven days of digital decluttering. 

With over a decade spent writing about and existing in the virtual world, Emma knows what it’s like to feel overwhelmed and even shameful about having an online life that negatively impacts your offline one. In this class, Emma will help you take control of your digital devices, set boundaries around your relationship with technology, and simplify your digital world. 

With Emma as your teacher, you’ll:

  • Manage your email inbox with optimized folders and your calendar with color coding 
  • Analyze your social media and your media consumption
  • Delete unwanted apps, photos, and music and organize what you choose to keep
  • Learn to keep better track of your passwords and how you spend your money

Plus, Emma provides a behind-the-scenes look into how she went through the same processes to bring greater mental well-being and a feeling of personal success into her life. 

Whether you’re a business owner who wants to declutter their digital presence or just someone who spends too much time with their digital devices, Emma will walk you through the exact steps to dominating your digital life–instead of vice versa. You’ll leave this class renewed, refreshed, and ready to spend more time offline doing what you love. 

Anybody with a desire to declutter their digital life can take this class. You’ll need your phone and computer as well as a notebook, which you’ll use for reflection, in-class activities, and note taking.

Meet Your Teacher

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Emma Gannon

Author, Broadcaster, Podcast Host

Teacher

Emma Gannon is a Sunday Times bestselling author. Her career guide The Multi-Hyphen Method was a business bestseller and her debut novel OLIVE was nominated for the Dublin Literary Award in 2022.

She is also a trained coach, host of the no. 1 creative careers podcast in the UK, (Ctrl Alt Delete) and speaks on the themes of wellbeing, creativity, digital culture and living life on your own terms.

She is a trained coach and experienced speaker and has spoken at TEDx, the Oxford Union, Founders Forum, Instagram, Amazon and Google. She has also appeared regularly on BBC Radio 4 (Woman's Hour, MoneyBox and Word Of Mouth), BBC Radio 2 (Simon Mayo) and BBC Radio 1 (Life Hacks). She is a trusted panel host and has interviewed everyone from... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: We should have a level of autonomy and freedom to how we work. When we're happier and we feel like we're making a difference in some small way, we work better, and we work better with others. Hi, I'm Emma Gannon. I'm a writer, I'm the author of six books, I'm a coach, I'm a podcaster, and I also write a newsletter called The Hyphen. I love this topic because it's something that I've been studying, and researching, and interviewing so many people about over the years. I'm also someone that feels like our digital space really impacts our daily life. A lot of people think of online and offline as being totally separate but actually, the way we feel about our devices can really feed into our daily lives and impact our mood. This Skillshare class is all about digital decluttering and simplifying your online presence. In this class, we're going to look at streamlining your social media, looking at unwanted apps, organizing your email inbox, your media consumption, your passwords, looking at music, and also touching on money and how that's organized too. Many studies have shown that we feel significantly less stressed when we have declutted our phones and laptops. So I'm excited for this to make us feel more optimistic and productive. You don't need much from this class, you just need yourself, a journal, a pen, and of course, all your digital gadgets that you want to look at. I'm so excited to take you through this class. Let's get started. 2. Getting Started: This class is for anyone that is feeling overwhelmed, bogged down in notifications and unread emails, and people always wanting their time. This is a class about decluttering, but also setting boundaries. And really being in a place where you feel like your devices aren't ruling you. A big part of why I think this class is really needed is I think a lot of us live in a world of shoulds, like we should be on our phone, we should be checking everything every five minutes. We've also ruined the word urgent. Like people will always try and get your attention at all times. We live in a time of major distraction. The comparison culture of being constantly in the loop on what everyone else is creating can be quite damaging. I don't think we're meant to know what everyone is doing at all times. It's not really very natural. A lot of this will be about creating that space for daydreaming or writing or doodling, or coming up with just ideas that maybe have been trying to reach you, but you've been too distracted to hear them. I would definitely tell anyone who is feeling overwhelmed or a little bit ashamed of the mess that they're in with their digital devices that it's totally normal. Life is really stressful. The modern world is very fast paced and there's so much out there and so much noise. Just come in and don't be too hard on yourself. We'll do it together. After drafting my book, The Success Myth, which is all about letting go of doing it all and having it all, I went through a burnout episode myself, which I've always written about. It was quite interesting that I actually physically went through it. What I learned from that time was that you can look successful, but it's not really the same as feeling successful. You can look busy and you can look popular, or you can look like you're doing all the things online. But this class is really about stripping that back and really, really concentrating on how you feel at the end of the day. You might not have anything to show for it, you might not have achieved anything you can necessarily share. But you might have had a day that suits your nature, your personality more and to you, that will mean you've had a more successful day. Since clearing the decks a little bit in terms of my social media and online life, I've definitely had more time to go for walks, go for swims, meet up with friends, all of those amazing moments that actually lead to more creativity. This class is split up into 11 lessons and they're really small, bite size daily challenges. This is something that you can take at your own pace. You don't have to do it all in one day. You can do it over a stretch of time and go as slowly as you want to. We're going to start off with some bigger reflections to set the tone and get you in the mood for all of this and then that will go into more practical exercises later on. Each lesson will have a project attached to it so something really practical that's going to help you from color coding your calendar, to using apps to unroll yourself from multiple emails to a matrix that can help you with determining what to say yes or no to. Now we're going to take some time to reflect offline. 3. Day 1: Offline Reflections: This first step is all going to be about taking time off our phones, so we won't need them for this section. This is all about getting some head space, getting outside, getting into a quiet space, and just really reflecting on what's taking up all of your time, all of your head space, and letting those things rise to the surface. We spend so much time deep inside our phones that we rarely give ourselves the time to take a bird's eye view of our life. One of the first steps would be to take your journal, go to a quiet space, get away from everyday life if you can. It could even just be going for a quick walk, but just having a real think about the things that are taking up the most time. Some of these questions could be, which area of your digital life is causing you the most stress? For me, it was definitely social media. Specifically, something like Twitter, which I don't even use anymore. But it was really important for me to really pinpoint the exact place that was making my chest beat that bit harder and making me feel slightly more stressed. The first thing we're going to look at is what we go to bed thinking about or worrying about, and what's the first thing that we do in the mornings? Something that comes up for me is this fear that I'm going to lose an email thread, or I'm going to forget to do something, or someone sent me a message and I've not got back to it yet. For the mornings, it's normal for people to check their email or read the news first thing or go on Instagram and see something that they didn't expect to see. For me, talking about distractions, I always find that when I'm writing, if I have my phone faced upward, I get notifications around apps that I've signed up to years ago. They'll just pin and there's a statistic around how it takes 15 minutes for your brain to get back into the task you were doing before you got interrupted. The second question is around what is your biggest worry? This is something that we don't take the time sometimes to realize about ourselves but it's the overarching worry. It can be something like, I'm worried that my friends will think that I'm a bad friend if I don't reply or my boss thinks I don't get back to them in the time frame that they want me to. This is maybe looking at the people pleasing tendencies that you might have or just the behaviors that are driving your digital life. For these next two questions, the journal prompts around overwhelm and organization and it's really useful to rate yourself out of 10 because by the end of the class you might feel different. For me, the scale of 1-10, of how overwhelmed do you feel, I would say that if you'd asked me this a few months ago, I would have said maybe a nine, and I really knew that I needed this class, and I really knew that I needed to do something about it. When it comes to organization, if you ask yourself out of 10, how organized do you feel? Right now I would say I'm probably about an eight just because I've done a lot of this work of sweeping away unwanted apps and acquaintances and everything. For your final journal in question, you're going to ask yourself, how do I hope to feel by the end of this class? This is really important because when we're very stressed and overwhelmed and we've got everything going on, we need to get into a new frame of mind. So take your journal, ask yourself this question, and also if you can make a doodle of how you want to feel. Look outside, look at what you can see and maybe even draw your surroundings or draw this idea of how you'd like to feel by the end of the class. For me, I would do something like drawing my space at home, but in a way where it feels really relaxed and calm and spacious. I would draw my desk maybe, and draw some flowers that might be on the desk and all of my books that are organized so I can get into that headspace of everything being where it needs to be and maybe draw like the clouds that I can see and just giving that impression of open space because we live in a lot of open space. We don't look up as much as maybe we should, and just getting that image of spaciousness into our lives so that we're not just concentrating on the thing that we're doing right in that minute. Once you've done those journaling exercises, your next action is to go home. When you are engaging next time with your phone, or your laptop, or your iPad or whatever it might be, just notice how you feel when you're doing certain things. This is really, really important because for me, for example, I noticed that I was actually feeling quite nauseous when I was scrolling. I was almost feeling that vertigo of realizing that my body didn't want to be scrolling that many times in a day. Also past 10:00 P.M. if I went on my phone, my eyes would start feeling really tired and really heavy. These are the things that we don't notice in our daily lives. This lesson is really important to just set the scene. You've done your journaling, you've gone outside, you've reflected on your life, you've probably had a few things come into your head like certain people or certain ways of being that you do want to change and doesn't sit right with you. Now that we've reflected on our relationship with our technology now it's the perfect time for a social media spring clean. 4. Day 2: Clean Up Social Media : Our social media feeds can bring us so much joy, but they can also be the thief of joy when it comes to comparison. I think we know logically that it's just a pixelated image, and that there's a whole background story behind each thing that people share. But the way that the feeds are, it can suck us in really easily. This lesson is all about unfollowing, or muting, or getting rid of things that no longer serve you in your social media spaces. The first thing to talk about really is the mass unfollow. Some people might want to be a bit more nuanced with this and go a bit more slowly, but sometimes it's good for us to just go in and take everything apart and start again. For a mass unfollow, you can go on your Apple or Android App Store and you can literally search for tools that help you mass unfollow. Sometimes they can be a Chrome extension where you can add that on and it can unfollow mass amounts of people on your desktop. But there are definitely tools to help you and don't be afraid to go in and really commit to unfollowing things that no longer serve you. The first step is to make a list of all the things that light you up and the things that also drain you. We're going to start off with having three categories, people, places, and routines, and just start there and see what comes up. In the people category, you might have someone that maybe you started following a few years ago and at the time you liked it and it inspired you in some ways, but maybe you've moved city, or you've got new interests now, or you're trying to do something new and it doesn't quite sit right with you anymore. These are the people to put in this column, and write their names or write their Instagram handles or whatever it might be, and just have them there for later. For the places column, it's all about tuning into where you feel you're best and what environments maybe allow you to have more headspace and not check your phone as much. What spaces do you enjoy being in and what spaces also bring you down and make you check your phone more, or in general, make you feel slightly stressed. The third category is all about routines and tuning into those routines that really work for you, and hopefully trying to do those more, and the routines that really disrupt you and hopefully you will avoid more in the future. For me, I would say that a routine that I really love at the moment is just leaving my phone on airplane mode for an hour after I wake up. It really helps me just get my head together, make a list of things that I want to do that day. I don't reach for my phone immediately and just gives me that space in the day to just wake up and make a list of things I actually want to achieve. Now we're going to get into how to actually sort through your social media accounts and make sense of what you're following and why. The way that I see it is your social media accounts is like your space or your home, and you get to decide who comes in and who goes out. The first thing to talk about is muting. This is not quite unfollowing, it's just hiding someone, so you aren't really seeing what they're doing and it's not visible anymore. This is really a tool for someone who you don't want to offend. You don't want them to completely disappear from your feeds. You want them to still be there in the wings. It might be a family member whose views you don't agree with. It could be a colleague who you don't necessarily really want to see outside of work hours, but you don't want to ruffle any feathers. This is really about pressing the mute. They're there, they're not, but you're not seeing their content at times you don't want to. The second thing which we're going to talk about today is restricting. This is really a tool that's really amazing with putting a boundary between you and a person. This is quite specific to Instagram, but this is someone who won't know they're restricted. It's so they can't show up in your comments. They can't message you without you accepting that comment. They just can't really reach you very easily. If they comment on your post, they can see that they've commented, so it all looks quite normal to them, but you won't see the comment and no one else will as well. An example of something that I might restrict is something that is quite spammy. Maybe something like a business or a person who won't stop messaging, or they repeat themselves a lot, or they're trying to sell you something constantly. It's a great way of just restricting the behavior so that it doesn't really reach you. The third thing to do here is to click "Unfollow". This is something that people find really hard to do because it does signal that you have unsubscribed from that person or that thing and you are no longer in that world watching what they're up to. People can feel like they can't do it because it might signal that a friendship is over or that they're not interested in a certain thing anymore. I understand that this one's difficult, but it can be really empowering to do it because you are making a decision about how you spend your time essentially. The fourth thing to talk about is the block tool. This is one step up from restricting. If this is something or someone who is visibly making you uncomfortable or visibly causing you harm or being unkind, and you don't really want that in your space, then blocking is a great way to really just put that completely clear boundary down. They won't be able to access your page, they won't be able to see what you're up to. It really is a firm line. Doing this exercise has such an immediate effect because what you no longer see, you do forget about. One of the big positives for me for doing this exercise is that not only are you seeing things that bring you more joy, but you also don't have as much stuff to see because you're whittling down accounts that you no longer want to look at. The other thing you can do on Instagram is you can have your favorites show up in your feed. This is a way of really whittling down what your main feed is showing you. You basically put all of the people that you love the most and you love looking at their stuff in your favorites category. Then every time you toggle the news feed to favorites, only those people will show. The final tip is just that you don't need to keep adding on things. It's okay to have a one in, one out, or even just make a rule that you're going to unfollow something every day. We're in a time where we've accumulated so much stuff, be it physical or digital, but we're in a time now, I believe, of undoing a lot of the stuff we've been doing over the past few decades of being online. Yeah, make a rule to take one thing off your pile. Now we've reworked our approach to social media. Now we're going to take a look at how to tackle our inbox. 5. Day 3: Optimize Your Email: In this lesson, we're going to look at the inbox. How we are running it, how we're organizing it, what's coming in, how we can file things away, and really how we can make sure that we're not constantly drowning in email. People love to talk about inbox zero and it can be quite a fun challenge, but it's also a bit of a time waster because you can be so obsessed with inbox zero that you're actually spending way more time on your emails. For me it's about having folders. I love having folders because you can put things away into them. It doesn't mean that they're like gone, but you can file them for later. Just in general just having a kind of a loose grasp on it, I feel like sometimes we can get really obsessed with to do lists or organization. But really the kind of vibe of this class is more about feeling like you're in control and it's not bothering you too much and you know that whatever is waiting for you in there can be tackled. A book that really helped me a few years ago is called Unsubscribe, by Jocelyn K. Glei and she's an incredible author and writer and coach in this space. Really what she encourages you to do in that book is to really understand that you don't have to treat every email with the same equality. That we have different preferences and different tiers and different importance, really, for the people that we are working with who come into our lives in terms of email. She really encourages you to categorize the people that matter and the people that you really want to prioritize and put to the top of the pile and the people that sort of drop off and you don't have to e mail them back straight away or if at all. Before we get into the categorization of the people who are emailing you and how to really organize that in a good way, let me just tell you about some tools I use to organize the existing emails in your inbox if you're feeling overwhelmed. The first one is an app called Mailstrom, which is something that groups together similar emails so that you can bulk delete in one go. So this could be something like a keyword that you want to delete, or you want to delete every email that a certain brand has ever sent you or you want to delete a group of deleted emails, or you want to delete, I don't know, something like an out of office response that you keep getting from the same person. This is about grouping and deleting in one go. The second app to use is something called Unroll Me, which is a tool that many people use to really just cut out that manual unsubscribing that we have to do with something that we no longer want to follow. This is a curation tool that gathers in through your inbox API, all of those brands or people or what have you who keep sending you emails, newsletters, and instead of going through and having to manually delete everything, it groups everything together. So you just click one button per personal brand and then it unsubscribes you from that newsletter. One thing to mention about the Unroll Me app and any apps is to make sure that you actually unsubscribe from the app afterwards. Because sometimes it can be there sort of lurking in the background and you want to just use the tool and then not use it anymore. This really is a lesson in empowering yourself to make decisions which can then ladder up to other decisions in your life. The next tool that I recommend is using the Clean app, which is something that helps you archive or delete things that are more than a year old or more than two years old and it's really looking at historical stuff you no longer need to keep in your inbox. One thing that I love about the Substack app, which is something that I used to follow a lot of newsletters, so it's a lot of my email comes from there, is something they offer where you can pause emails so you don't have to unsubscribe or be active all the time with these certain emails. You can pause them for a few months and then if you miss them, you can re-subscribe and unpause that relationship. Now, inspired by the Unsubscribe book that I mentioned earlier, we're going to categorize the people that email us into four categories so that it can help you prioritize what comes in and how you're going to treat those priorities in your life. We're going to do the professional version first of all, of the work contacts and yourself, business life, work life first, and then we'll follow up with the more personal version. For this lesson, we're going to split the page into four, so that you've got the four categories of the people who are emailing you. The first one is the VIPs. We've got their key collaborators, we've got the potential collaborators, and we've got the randoms. Really this is to be used to look at the people who you're spending the most time emailing or replying to or worrying about, and making sure that most of your time is being spent with the VIPs or the key collaborators. These are people like your core team, your employees, the people that really matter to you in your business. These are going to be the people in the VIPs and those are going to be the people that you're mostly spending your time in your inbox replying to. The key collaborator column is more about people who are important, but they don't need maybe urgent responses all the time. It could be your accountant, it could be someone who you work with in, like a legal team or even a landlord of the building that you work in. People who are important, but they could potentially wait a day or two before you reply. The potential collaborators are people who might want to do new business with you. These are people that might want to work with you in the future. People who you want to give a lot of your time to because it could be future work or a future collaborator. But this is also something that's further down the list because you don't currently work with them, you don't know if you ever will, and it's just a reminder, really, of where your time is being spent. Then really down the bottom you do have the random category. This is like random emails that you get of requests that don't necessarily need an urgent response, they don't really need any response some of the time. You can color code it so that your VIPs and your key collaborators are in a certain color so that when they come in, you know that they're sort of top of the pile and something that's important to you. But also it's just psychologically, I think you can go to bed at night realizing that you've covered off the important aspects of your email and the things down the bottom of the pile can wait for days, weeks, or even months, if they're not really that important. We can do the same again with this lesson in terms of our personal life and this can be email, but this can also be used with any aspect of life really. You've got the VIP friends, so the people who really matter to you. These are like your close friends, the people that you would invite to your birthday party or people who you would hang out with all the time if you could, you've got the good friends which are good friends. People who you care about, you socialize with, you really want to keep in touch with, but they're not necessarily in the first category. Then you've got the potential friends who could be people that you've worked with or people who you actually really want to get to know better and you want to make room for them and have them in your life more. So they're definitely important, but they are further down that list. Then you've also got the random or the stranger category of people who are, I would say acquaintances or even below acquaintances. Something to say about this is that it doesn't just have to be for emails, so it could be for your WhatsApp groups, it could be for your text messages, your social media. If you're spending a lot of time on a random WhatsApp group of people you never see and hardly ever come in contact with, then that's just a sign that there needs to be a little bit more prioritization. The other thing to mention about folders is that sometimes they're just so useful so that you have things out of the main inbox because that can sometimes feel really overwhelming. So even just moving them away into a different folder can really do wonders for the stress levels. A folder that I use quite often is just called reply soon, it's such a broad email folder, but sometimes I just put things in there because they're not urgent. But I know that at some point when I get a quiet period, I can go through an email and reply to those emails. The other thing is saving nice emails. I don't think people do this enough where they've had a compliment or someone has said they've done a really good job. To have a folder just saved with all these nice feedback quotes can be a really nice thing to save. Now it's your turn to give this exercise a go, so make sure that you give yourself all the time and space you need. Next up we are going to talk about getting a healthier mindset around our calendar. 6. Day 4: Manage Your Calendar : Our calendar can sometimes be the boss of us, instead of us being the boss of our calendar. So this lesson is really all about looking at how we view our calendar, what goes into it, and how we organize our day-to-day life. So when it comes to managing our time, one of the best things we can do for our future selves is just say no upfront when something is clearly a no; maybe is the death of time because it gives you this sort of middle ground gray area where you know you have to come up with an excuse later of why not to go. So if it's a no, just do yourself a favor and say no. In this lesson, you're going to learn a lot of tips around having a calendar that you enjoy looking at and that doesn't overwhelm you and we're going to talk about the urgent important matrix, which is all about how to determine whether something is important, or urgent, or both, or neither. A broad tip on viewing your calendar is to not overwhelm yourself by looking at a month in advance or even a week sometimes. We only can do a day at a time, quite literally. So in general, I'll just always have the three-day view on my calendar just so I can really be in the loop about the general few days I've got coming up. Otherwise I can think too far in advance and I feel like that almost gives me a negative spin on the week. So something I love doing is color coding my calendar so that when I do look at the three days or the week, I can see just from the colors what sort of week I've got coming up. This is something that was taught to me by a coach that I saw quite a few years ago where she realized that my calendar was really off balance. There were so many things in my calendar that were really draining me and if you're an extrovert or you're an introvert, that will mean different things to you. Going to a party might light someone up and give them a lot of energy. Whereas for an introvert you do need a lot more down time and time on your own. The three colors that stand out the most for me is I have green for stuff that I think is really fun. So I try and have a lot of green in my calendar every week. Pink is for socializing, so anything that just feels like I don't really have to worry about it because it's not work. Then I've got red for really important work things. So maybe it's a call or a meeting or something that I really need to prepare for and I know will take it out of me. Then I've got blue, which is anything that is quite public. So for me that would be doing a talk or going to do a book signing or something that I know will mean that I would have to have downtime afterwards. I'm a really big fan of journals and notebooks on my physical desk, and I've found that if you can have notebooks for certain things, it can be really nice just to physically have it there. So, for example, having people's birthdays in a book, in a physical journal, just so that every few days you can look in there and see if someone has a birthday coming up. It just means that your diary is not overloaded with admin and bits of information. Another thing to do so that you don't have everything in your one calendar overwhelming you is having a notes app or having notes like Evernote or simple note is good. Or even Google notes, basically having somewhere where you put all of your notes. It's just great to have one place that you can jot down anything you need to remember. I used to email myself notes or I used to put those notes into my calendar and I just found that that added to a place that was already overwhelming and busy. With the color coding of my diary it's made so much difference because it enables me not to just look at the work or the workload, or what I'm achieving or what looks good. It's all about your physical energy levels but also your emotions. So for example, if I don't have any pink in my diary, that means I'm not seeing my friends and that's a sort of red flag for me or a pink flag that I'm not seeing people and that means I'm working too much. So it's a really good way of just knowing on just a scan of your calendar that you have some balance in your life. I do like having the paper diary because then I can physically strike off things that I've done and that's something you can't really do on a digital calendar. So I am a big fan of that satisfying way of crossing off your to do list. The other thing I really recommend is a have done list. I think sometimes we're so quick to move on to the next project or move on to the next thing and not even really give ourselves any credit for what we've just done. So I would say that's a really nice thing to keep in mind as you look at your calendar. So we've looked at the calendar as a whole and how to get through the week and how to do to do lists. But this I'm going to talk you through now the urgent important matrix is something that really helps me on a day to day basis. This is taking a day and really looking into granular detail on how you want to handle that day and those things that you've got on your list for that day. For this lesson. This is all about splitting the page into four and putting urgent in one category and not urgent in the other, on the right hand side. Then you've got also down this left hand side, you want to put important here and the important here. This is all about having these four buckets and you've got important and urgent here. You've got not urgent and important here. You've got urgent and not important here, and then you've got urgent and not important. Basically, this is the dead zone of things that don't really matter. An example of something that is urgent but not important would be maybe a system update or an unpaid invoice. So it's urgent, but it's not really important. It's not going to change your whole life if it doesn't get done on that day. But I would put that here. Something that is important but not urgent would be something like your friend's upcoming birthday party that you're going to organize. So it's really important because you love your friend, but it's not urgent because you've still got weeks and weeks to plan it. So for example, something that would be urgent and important would be like an upcoming book deadline. So it's really important because I need to get it right and it's really urgent because it's due tomorrow. So this is a really good thing to do at the beginning of your week or the beginning of the month because you can look at all the things you want to achieve and then you can almost use this to input into your calendar everything that you're going to do that month. So for example, if I had this upcoming book deadline, I would really want to put that in the top section of my calendar as like the thing I need to prioritize that month. Then if there are other things that can be done that aren't urgent or important, they might happen near the end of the month. Now it's over to you now that you've learned some of these tools in this lesson to maybe color code your diary more or to have a play around with the urgent important matrix. Now let's tackle unwanted apps. 7. Day 5: Clear Unwanted Apps: So most of us download an app with the best intentions. We think it will change our life and that we will use it all the time. But a lot of apps are useful for a moment in time sometimes, or even a period of our life, and then they become defunct or slightly useless. And it's really good to just check in quite consistently with what's on your phone, what are you using, what are you not using. So I did this recently and something that I removed was breaking news apps. I'm obviously someone that wants to keep up with the news and be informed and educated around what's going on in the world. But I found that I didn't need to be notified every single time there was a new story across the many different news apps that I have. So I whittled it down to one or two news apps, reputable sources that I like checking in with. I deleted a lot of taxi apps because I don't really need them right now. With the way that I'm living my life in London, I can take public transport. And I also deleted a lot of food and clothes apps, and a lot of apps that I downloaded because I got a free trial and then the free trial ended and I realized I didn't really need to use it anymore. Sometimes there are apps that we definitely need during a life moment or a life milestone, like moving house for example. You might have apps that are helping you search for a new property, but then once that time period is over, you no longer need them. Sometimes it's just about turning the notifications off the app because you need the app, but you just don't need to be alerted to it all the time. But actually sometimes you just need to delete the app altogether. With social media apps, I actually do this quite often. I don't actually have Instagram or Twitter or X on my phone very often. I don't love having it on there because it means I'll just constantly be on it. So every week I download it, I go on there, I do my thing, and then I just delete it again for another few days. An app that I recently deleted was the Asos app, which is a clothing app. And I don't really buy anything from there, but it became quite easy just if I was bored, have a look and just scan for what's new. It can be quite addictive to just see what's new all the time. And I realized that I was just wanting to be in the loop with the latest fashional trends. And actually what I found was, when I deleted the app, I didn't really ever go on it and if I did, I would go on my desktop computer once a month. And that was a real example of going on an app out of boredom rather than actively needing to go on it. So for this lesson, the main prompt really is to take a look at your apps, look at what is important to you, what's not important to you, and really just take 10 minutes to journal on this one. I would also push yourself to go with the deleting rather than just leaving it there. I think what's great about apps is you can just delete them and then later really realize if you do miss having them there or not. So a few apps to be aware of that you could maybe start with is any apps that you might have downloaded when you were away on holiday, for example, could have been something that you needed when you were in a particular location, apps that make you shop more, apps that make you more distracted or suck your time more, or entice you into playing more games, or make you just stay on your phone for longer. So now we've cleared the decks with any unwanted apps. Let's take this slightly further and go in and delve into those duplicate photos. 8. Day 6: Tame Photo Overload: The average person takes 22 photos a day which is a lot of photos. In this lesson, we're going to go slowly and really inspire you to clean up your photos, sort them out, and get rid of any that you don't need and keep the valuable ones. One thing to be sure of before you dive into this lesson is making sure you back up all of your photos so that none go missing or especially the ones you want to keep. So make sure you either back them up on a hard drive or external one or make sure you have a Cloud based service like Google Photos or Apple. A good place to start is to delete any duplicates, any screenshots, or any photos that have been sent to you on text or WhatsApp. So the first app to talk you through is an app called DoubleKiller which is all about searching for file size. So anything that is really taking up a lot of room like a really long video or even a duplicate video, and it will help you put your photos in order from biggest to smallest in terms of file size. This app really helped me last year with my wedding photos. I feel like I had them sent to me from this amazing photographer, but they were really large photos and I actually just put them on a hard drive. I also printed them out and it's stuff like that where they're obviously really important photos to me, but I don't need to have them on my phone. So the app VisiPics is also a really good organization tool. It helps you get many photos that are very similar and it allows you to pick the best one which I feel is really relevant because I have so many photos of the same thing especially when I'm taking pictures of a pet or taking a picture of a loved one, and I've got them from all different angles, but actually I only need a few really good photos. So this app really helps you whittle down loads of those similar photos on your phone. So the Getsorted and Slidebox apps are really good for if you are feeling a little bit tired, you don't have the energy in you to go through and do all of this manual sorting even with the help of some apps and you really want it to be a bit more fun and you can swipe through a yes or a no. It's like this Tinder set up of helping you sort through all of your photos so you can literally just swipe to delete or swipe the other way to keep. I find that it's a really good way of organizing when you only have it in you to just do some swiping. It's also really nice to just have the photos on your phone that you actually want. Especially when you're socializing and you want to show people photos on your phone, it really helps so that you're not just going through loads of random photos that have no use. Another quick tip is to turn off save to phone on WhatsApp when people send you videos or photos. It might be that sometimes you do want to save down those photos, but it's great to not have it as an automatic save. Something that I love to do every now and again is to put my favorite photos into a favorites album. So this is something that is continuous and I sometimes go and print them off as well. But the favorites album is just a great way to realize that you have one space for all your best photos and you have one space where you can always find them. I really like having physical photo albums, so every three months I'll get them printed from Snapfish which is just a company that do really cheap photo printing. You can look at different ones in your area, but that's the one I use. It's really nice to categorize your photos in different albums and just save them there for a day where you might want to look at them. Social media is a great place to put all your favorite photos and have your highlight reel and a lot of our best photos are probably on there unless you're someone that likes to keep them back and be private which is also a great shout. I find that we forget that we don't own our social media accounts. We don't know if the social media accounts are going to last forever so this is a really great way of making sure that you are saving your special photos and that you are owning them in your own way. So if you don't have access to these apps, you can still organize your photos manually and you can go through and organize by person or by location or by the memory that you have. So a lot of phones are good now at grouping together similar photos and this can really help with when you make your photo albums as well. The other way to make sure that your photos are not overwhelming to you is just pausing before taking them and realizing to yourself like, am I taking this photo for the sake of it? Will I need it? Will I use it later? If you're looking at a beautiful sunset, do you need a photo of it or is it just nice to look at? The same goes for being at a concert or anything like that. It's like, when can I be more in the present moment and not take the photo? So now we've gone through photos and how to streamline and organize your photo albums, now let's move on to organizing our music. 9. Day 7: Organize Your Music: I'm a firm believer that our music choices really reflects where we're at in our current life. So you might be listening to some quite upbeat music because life's going well, or you might be listening to some angry music because you're in the middle of something a bit difficult. What you choose to listen to actually reflects so much of what you're going through. I like to categorize my music into playlists around mood, so you've got pensive playlists or you've got sad playlists or happy playlists or playlists that can boost your energy levels. I listen to a lot of relaxation playlists during my writing time and also music without any lyrics, so I can concentrate. A lot of psychologists recently have spoken about how a lot more of us are becoming a way more nostalgic and this is mostly with the millennial generation. We're in that phase of life where we're looking back at our youth, we're looking back at all of the music that we used to enjoy, and sometimes we're not really wanting to listen to current music as much. I'm a big fan of grouping together my music to a year so looking back at the noughties or even the '90s, even the '80s and before then, but just having that accessible so that if you want to think of a certain year, it's easy to access that. It's also worth looking at the different functions of your music app. I know that Spotify gives you your year in review at the end of the year, which is really interesting to see all the songs that you were loving that year, and all the songs that you were playing on repeat constantly. You can always save those so that in the following year you can look back at your previous year and see what you were loving, so that you can carry some of that forward. The other thing that comes up quite often is your top played and that can be across podcasts as well. That's just a really good personal look at what you're loving and I always recommend sharing your link to your top played with friends so that you can all see what you're enjoying. A lot of music apps, especially Spotify, automatically put you on public so that your listening habits are publicly available to people. A lot of people find that they have quite a private relationship with their music and sometimes they don't want everyone knowing. Maybe they think it's like an embarrassing choice or they're listening to something that they just want to have personal moment with. It's important to check that you are set on private and make sure every few months that it's still on private and it hasn't just moved. One thing to do every so often is to clean out your playlists. Sometimes we can build them and forget about them, and they haven't really become a playlist. They've just got a few songs in there and we've left it, so it's good to go through, delete anything that's unwanted, refresh your order of your playlist. So bring some to the front, to the top that you are enjoying the most and just reorganizing them so the ones that you might not need anytime soon are near the bottom. There are so many times in our lives like milestone moments or parties, or weddings, or having people over for dinner where you might just want to put a playlist on and instead of having to search through your entire phone or even make one on the spot, it's quite nice to have them pre-made for any of those moments. Last year when I took a bit of time off and I was really exhausted, I made myself a playlist to accompany myself on my walks, because I would go on quite long walks, and that was compiled of songs that I really enjoyed from the past, new songs that I just had discovered via the Discover tab, and also just friends sending me links to songs. I really like that playlist. It serves a bit of a time capsule of a time that I feel quite far away from now and I really like that about playlist because it's just a moment in time. Now it's your turn to go and have a look at your music library, have a little clear out, organize the order of certain things if you need to, and also maybe go and make a new playlist. That really sums up where you're at at the moment and just notice what you're attracted to and what you're putting in. Because even down to the song titles, it can really sum up how you're feeling in that moment. I just really recommend picking one place to have all of your music, just because then it's just in one place, it's on one app and you feel confident that you've got everything sorted. I really enjoy listening to music while I'm decluttering my house. I also love listening to podcasts and I would love to hear any of your playlists. So if you have any that you'd like to share with everyone else, then just go to the project gallery and you can save it there. This lesson is something to be done over time in a casual, leisurely way, so there's no rush. You don't have to sort everything out immediately, so take your time and enjoy decluttering. Next up we're going to talk about how to organize your passwords. 10. Day 8: Secure Your Passwords: To get more organized with your passwords, a really great thing to do is to get a small notebook and write down all your passwords for everything that you use quite frequently, like your email, your social media, some of your more frequent logins, and just start there because it really can help to just have it all in one place. Make sure you have it in a really safe space. So keep it in your office or maybe even in a drawer that you know no one's going to go in and just make sure that only you know where it is. Something that you can use in a digital way is use an app called LastPass. And I'm sure there's other ones if you research into it, but essentially it's a safety vault which stores all of your passwords in one place and you only need to remember one password to get into the vault. It can be a really great way of just storing everything online really safely so you don't have to worry about anyone coming across your notebook. It's also worth making a note in your calendar or in your notes app, wherever that might be, to change your passwords quite regularly. Some people like to change them every few weeks. I recommend definitely every three months, and just going through and maybe even creating a more secure password every time. And then, of course, putting it in your notebook or in your LastPass vault and just keeping everything refreshed. Again, it's such a small thing, but it can make such a difference. So now it's over to you to have a go, have a look at your password organization and what situation they're in, and use some of these tools to put them in a safe space. Now let's take a look at your relationship with media consumption. 11. Day 9: Analyze Your Media Consumption: This next lesson is all about media consumption, and in general, being more active than passive. Many of us are at the mercy of our feeds, at our notifications, at what is being sent to us. Really this is going to be talking about doom scrolling and how to avoid that as well. In general, I think when we look at our lives and how we want them to be and we want to make more decisions, we think quite macro about really big things, really big decisions. But actually the way that we spend our days is the way we spend our whole lives. This is all about being much more aware in your body and being more conscious of where your time is going. Something that I absolutely love is the Pocket App. This is an app that helps you save things that you would love to read, or new stories that you would love to dig into, or long reads, or even podcast episodes. Things that maybe someone sends you, but you don't need to in that moment read it. Sometimes that is the biggest distraction, is feeling like we have to do everything now. So this is really a save for later app. For the past five plus years, I've actually rounded up lots of different reads and links and articles in my newsletter and people always ask me how I have all the time to read all this stuff. The secret is I don't read it all at once. I save it in the pocket app all through the week and then maybe on a Friday afternoon or a relaxing Sunday afternoon, I'll go into my pocket app and I will have a nice cup of tea and read through everything. One of the things I hear a lot with people who access my work is that they don't feel that they have enough time. This is a huge thing with people, we always feel like we don't have time, we always feel like we have to rush. Actually, what's interesting about making sure that you do have boundary time with your phone and with the things that you're reading and those little things that take up all of your time, you find that actually at the end of the day, you do have more time because you have more of a control over it. This isn't about necessarily having the whole day to just be at your leisure, like we all have to do things we don't want to do sometimes, but this is just about creating those smaller pockets. I talk about this quite a lot, but I actually write my books in an hour, a day. I don't need all day, I do other things in the day. But it's all about that concentrated time. Someone that has really inspired me when it comes to blocking off time is the author, Oliver Burkeman, who wrote the book, Four Thousand Weeks. He talks a lot in his book, around time and how a lot of it is around perception. Time is moving at all times, but we can't really see it. It's not something that we can capture or put in a bag and save. It's always flowing and therefore we sometimes feel like we don't have a grasp on it. But he was saying that you can change your perspective with bulking your time so that even three or four hours of uninterrupted time can be absolutely life changing. Even imagining not going on your phone for two, or three hours probably seems quite alien to a lot of people because we're so used to checking it. But having that ring fence time of two or three hours, it is incredible. It feels like a very long amount of time because you're just in it. Deep work is something that's really hard to get into and we need all the help we can get. I found that doing the deep work in the mornings really suited me because it meant that I could use up quite a lot of my energy in those two, or three hours and like I say, I get so much done. It actually blew my mind how much I could do in those two or three hours. I basically did a day's worth of work, but just in that concentrated period of time. The two or three hour rule is something that is exciting to do in the morning and it's also great to do in the afternoon if you feel like you need to get something done. We all know that multitasking is the death of productivity. It really doesn't work. It's actually been proven to be impossible. When we think we're multitasking, we're actually just flitting between tasks just very, very quickly. If you feel like you need some inspiration on where you want to make some changes, it's good to go into your calendar or go into your phone and have a look at where you're spending your time. Because the phrase, I don't have time, it can really hold us back because it's a thought that we repeat so many times that we truly believe it when actually we have an expanse of time. It just depends on what we're choosing and how we're handling our time. We have so much power, we do have control, we do have choices, we can make better decisions. I'm definitely someone that gets distracted really easily, which is why I have learned all these tools to help me concentrate on the projects I want to work on. The first one I do like is an app called Freedom, which is actually a desktop app that helps block any websites for a few hours. So back in the day, I would definitely block Twitter for the whole day, because I wanted it to be my treat at the end of the day because it was quite a fun place to hang out and talk to other writers. But I really needed to get a handle on not going on there all day because I needed to get my writing done. The other one, similar to Freedom, is an app called SelfControl, which is really great as well because every time you go onto the website that you've blocked, it gives you a prompt and a reminder to tell you why you've blocked it. There's also apps that have been designed to be really rewarding for how you're not using your phone. For example, there's an app called Forest, where the app basically has a tree and it's growing and you can look at your phone and see this tree growing with things growing off it. The whole point is you don't want to stop the tree from growing. Anytime that you go on your phone, the tree dies and you want to keep growing it. There's lots of apps out there. Totally different to that one, where the whole point is, how long can you stay off your phone? I think something that we forget as creative people, as writers, as people that make things is we need time to breathe and think, but we also need time to look at things. I'm a really big reader and I get sent a lot of books, which makes me feel very, very lucky, and something that I want to prioritize more in my life is reading. I definitely notice that the more time I'm sucked into my phone and emails is just time taken away from reading. For me, it's a real direct comparison. If there's something that you really enjoy doing and you really want to make time for it, it's just really interesting to even take note of how often you're doing it or when it's slipping away. I know that when I'm not reading much, that is definitely a phone problem, and I will go back and do all of these things to rectify it. The other inspiration on this topic is Julia Cameron's, The Artists Way. In that book, she really recommends a media break of all media, not just your phone, like TV, everything for a week or longer to see what comes up and what comes to the surface. It's meant to be uncomfortable and it's meant to stretch you and it's really interesting experiment, if you're up for it, I really recommend that resource as well. Once you've given this a try and you've had a media break, or you've really reduced your media consumption, or you've even tried out the two or three hour rule, it's really important to have your journal because you're wanting to capture some of the emotions you feel or some of the discomfort that's coming up. This is a really important part of the process so that you can really be aware of what's coming up for you. The first question to ask yourself really is just, do you have any withdrawal? It's normal that you will, because if you're someone that's checking it very often or anything that you stop doing suddenly can feel a little bit strange. This is just about being really honest with yourself. Write down what you're missing, write down what you're worried about. I know that the first time I did this, I felt really worried that people might need to contact me. That there might be something really important. There might be this awful emergency and that during these three hours, something would have gone terribly wrong. I think when you say that out loud, you realize that's probably slightly dramatic and that something probably hasn't gone wrong in three hours. Just writing things down can really take you out of your head. The second thing to ask yourself is, do you feel uncomfortable when you're not passively scrolling or using your phone in the same way? Sometimes we just pick up a phone because we don't really have anything else to do. It's the same as smoking back in the day, it's just a boredom thing and it's not really something that you're actively going on to do for any particular reason. I would write a list of any of the discomfort you're feeling in your body. It might be that you feel a bit jittery, or you feel like you don't know really what to do with yourself, or you're just feeling a bit out of sorts. I would try and really describe that in as much detail as possible. When you look at it in the eye, you're more likely to overcome it than just shove it to the side. The third thing to journal on is the question, do you feel compelled to move or relax your body? In those moments of discomfort as we just discussed, it's really important to move your body, to shake it out, or do a bit of gentle yoga, spend five minutes stretching, literally anything, going for a small walk, going down the stairs, going into the kitchen. Anything to just do something to shift your energy rather than just scrolling on your phone because we forget that we can't really think our way out of discomfort. Sometimes we have to move our way out of it. Just try this out. It's a really interesting one because it amazes me every time that it can only take five minutes of movement to set yourself back on the right track again. In my office, I have my desk and I have a big bookcase, but I also have a yoga mat, I've also got this neck brace thing that you put under your neck to stretch out on the floor. I also have a mat, that's an acupressure mat with small little plastic spikes on it. You can get different ones, but it's a really amazing way of getting rid of tension and having a bit of a release. Again, it takes five minutes. This isn't something you have to dedicate lows and lows of time to. You can live your life as normal, but it's just having these blocks of time where you're checking in with yourself. The more you do, the more you'll want to do. Nowadays, I don't go really very far, very long at all before checking in with how I'm feeling and how I'm doing, which is something I probably didn't do very much in my '20s. Make some time over the next few days, weeks, months to try out some of these tools. Try reducing your media consumption and using these journal prompts and see what comes up for you. Now we're going to look at organizing your money. 12. Day 10: Track Your Money: When it comes to our money, it's something that can really keep us awake at night. It's such an emotional topic, it's a really personal topic, and we've each got a really personal relationship with our finances. I definitely used to be someone who didn't open envelopes and didn't check my bank account very regularly and just hoped it sorted itself out. When we think about money, it's not just something, a resource, or a currency that helps us move through the world. It also impacts every area of our life, whether that's where we live, whether that's how we hang out with our friends, what we want to achieve in the world, everything. As being someone who has multiple income streams and multiple interests, and I do quite a lot of different things, money does come in from different places and it's really important to not shy away from setting aside an afternoon a week or however long you need to just really sit down and take a look at what's coming in, file things away, neatly, know where things are, save down your documents, and just make sure that you're really someone that isn't just sweeping it away and saving it for later, which is definitely something I used to do. The main thing here really is to understand where your money is, where you want it to be, and looking so simply at the input and the output, so what's coming in and what's going out. The first app to talk about, which is just great for doing the admin for you, is an app called Splitwise. Something that you can use when you're at dinner with friends or maybe with your partner at home and just making sure that everyone knows where they're at. I think sometimes a big source of anxiety for people can be not knowing what they're going to spend when they're going out or feeling like they have to spend more than they're comfortable with, or just knowing in a friendship group that someone is paying more all the time. There's a bit of an imbalance that can happen sometimes when people aren't being transparent about it. This app is just really great for inputting the amount of money that needs to be split between people. Everyone gets a receipt or an email or a little notification from the app, and it just makes it easier to make sure everything's all fair and understood. The Mint app is really good for really understanding where your money is going. It does some great visuals. You can get a pie chart. You can look at different colors of where your money is going. It can just be really eye opening to see where some of the smaller amounts of money is going, which over time obviously makes up a bigger part of the pie chart. This app is really good at looking at your daily spending habits, but also it's great if you want to save, so you can put some saving targets in there. What's really great about it is you can see where you can save really tiny amounts. There are definitely apps out there where it can round up any number where you say you're spending £4.99, it will even take that penny and put it into savings. Over time it's rounding up the numbers so you don't even notice that you're saving. Another thing that's really important to do is to have a bit of a clear out, have a bit of a sweep of what's going on. So look at any bank accounts that aren't really being used, dormant credit cards that you're not really using much. Make sure that you don't have anything that you don't need so you can just whittle it down to your key places where you're spending and securing your money. It's also really good to do every few weeks or even every few days, or however often you want to do it to have a look at any subscriptions that you have going and anything that you might want to cancel. These are things like subscriptions to Netflix or newsletters or some sign up free trial that you started and not really knowing what you were going to get. This is just looking at anything that you're really not noticing coming out and just having a big clean up. There's a really great website called youneedabudget.com which has been recommended by so many of my friends. It's really changed things around for them. It's a really empowering tool that just helps you realize that you're in control. You are the boss. You can stop money going out, and you can change where your money is being spent. I think that's just a really important thing to be reminded of. I find that some of the small independent banks, like Monzo or Sterling or some of the new startups who have been checked and are doing great work, often are better at educating people with their relationship with money. I feel like because they're more nimble and more flexible and sometimes they have smaller teams. They are producing really great content on their newsletters. That's something to check out if you're interested. Now it's your turn to have a look at your money set up. Look at what you need, what you don't need. Take a look at the organization, maybe try out some new tools. I would love to see how you've been getting on and any progress you've made. If you want to share, please do in the project gallery below and we can see everything you've been learning and sharing along the way. 13. Day 11: Commitments and Final Thoughts: Congratulations. You've finally finished the class. I know for me personally, it all feels like so much at the time that actually doing it in smaller lessons can make it so much more achievable. So what has been the most surprising thing to you? I think for me it's how much tackling these smaller things in life can really impact your bigger life and how much the little digital things that we clear up can actually make our real life run that little bit smoother. The main thing to keep in mind is to feel like you're the boss of what you want to do. So whether it's a goal or it's values that you have or it's plans that you have for the year ahead, make sure that your digital tools are aiding that and helping you achieve that, helping you have a better offline life. I'm going to walk you through three commitments that you can make to continue this new frame of mind. It's really important that you sign your name at the bottom of the page so that you are marking this as real commitments. For your first commitment, I want you to take a journal and literally write down these words. I commit to doing a digital decluttering every three months. For Commitment 2, make sure you're carving out a time in your calendar, every month where you're writing a list of all the things that have brought you joy. This will be really good in inspiring you to carry on with this decluttering and just remind you that you're having more space in your day now. Commitment 3 is to really commit to yourself to do one thing a month, and it can't be more, for yourself on your own just to have that space that you've been wanting to have. These physical ways that you're showing yourself boundaries and self care. So it could be a walk, it could be time for more meditation. It could be time to work on creative projects where you're not monetizing it at all and it's just for pure joy, or hanging out with new friends. If you're feeling like you're needing a pep talk or you're needing a bit of a boost or you want to talk to other people and share your experiences, then go ahead and check out the project gallery and you can always get in touch in the comments and sort of cheer each other on. Feel free to share some screenshots of your app number going down or your e-mails being reduced or even a picture of your desktop looking slightly more tidy. Thank you so much for taking this class and being on the journey with me. I've really enjoyed it and I'm really excited to see how you get on, what you get up to, and please do share your progress and anything you want in the project gallery in the comments and good luck.