Reset to Zero

At least once a week, I like to reset to zero.

I wash the dishes, drying each piece of flatware and cutlery until it’s ready to be tucked away into its respective cabinet. Laundry is done: washed and dried, or hung up, if I’m living in a country where clothes dryers aren’t common. Anything scattered about the floor is picked up and put in its proper place, the floor is mopped or vacuumed. Every surface is cleared of clutter, the trash taken out; my entire home reset to its resting state.

My inbox is zeroed: every message is either deleted or acted upon and archived. My to-do list lacks any items of immediate concern. I made sure to get started on the pernicious bits the night before, and finished the rest this morning.

My life and my environment becomes a nice, malleable, lump of clay. Dull, in a way, because it’s been rendered shapeless by the lack of excess, clutter, or responsibility, for the moment. But exciting because it has unlimited potential. With little effort, I can reshape it into anything. With even less I can sit and look at it, all variables and rough edges momentarily smooth, allowing me to get a clear, unfettered idea of how best to proceed.

I find that allowing myself to reset also allows me to clear my internal clutter; to recalibrate and figure out where to go next, what project to focus on, or what book to settle in with, comfortable knowing that all loose ends have been tied off, if only for a little while.

Reseting to zero is kind of a one-off version of minimalism, if you think about it. A minimalist refocuses her life on what’s important by eschewing excess and homing in on what’s most important to her. Reseting to zero allows you to do the same on a different scale for a period of time. You needn’t get rid of the things that don’t bring you value to reset to zero, and you still get a taste of what life could feel like, all the time, if you ever decided to.

If you do find yourself taking a minimalist leap someday, reseting to zero can become even more valuable, as it becomes that much easier to apply. When you own only the most vital of possessions and occupy a space that makes sense for you and your needs, you’ll find it takes all of 10-15 minutes to reset to zero, giving you a quick and easy way to clear your mental tablet and start from scratch.

Like minimalism, reseting to zero is not about going without: you don’t lack for anything by having your home tidy and your dishes done.

Reseting is about seeing how clearly you’re able to think when all the little stresses of the day are neutralized. It’s about re-centering yourself and having the time and presence of mind to deep-dive into who you are, what you want, and in what direction you’re currently moving. It’s about being happier and more fulfilled, and achieving both goals by giving yourself the opportunity to change direction quickly and with few negative consequences, should such a change be warranted.

The first step of any journey can be the most difficult. Thankfully, reseting to zero only asks that you do the dishes.

Update: April 12, 2017

I’ve spent the past almost-year learning to cook, and I find that doing the dishes afterward, and sometimes while cooking, if there’s room for it, is somewhat soothing because of the positive associations I have with cleaning and tidying up. Putting things back where they belong feels like winding up a spring, building up the energy to do whatever needs doing, next. It’s a great feeling.