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Give Yourself The Gift of Zero

Give Yourself The Gift of Zero

The National Retail Federation predicted last year that sales in November and December (excluding autos, gas, and restaurants) were to top out at $630.5 billion. That’s a lot of zeroes!  But wouldn’t it be nice this season to focus more on the zero than on the dollar amount?  In the season of busyness, overspending and stress, let’s try to get back to baseline and remember that less is more. Here are 5 ways to do that:


Work to get your inbox to “0” messages daily.

Digital clutter can be just as bad as physical clutter. Spend time unsubscribing to emails you no longer use or need. Use, a service that manages a user’s junk email and subscriptions. Rather than grazing and checking messages continuously throughout the day, set aside certain times to tackle email where you send replies, rsvp, file for reference or archive.  


Aim for “0” items on your to-do list at the end the day.

This may seem like an impossible task, but if you’re only listing no more than 3 items a day, this should be manageable. What happens is that we often overload our to-do list of everything we feel needs to get done, when in fact, these things may need to get done, but not all in one day. Doing a better job of prioritizing and estimating how long a task will take will help with this. Pretty soon those to-do lists will turn into ta-da lists!


Have “0” items on your launch pad.

We all seem to have that spot by the door, whether it’s a basket, shelf or bin where we have stuff with which we have to act on. A book to return to the library, Tupperware to drop off to a friend, the dry cleaning ticket for your coat, or your child’s field trip permission slip can all end up in this area and are all things that need follow-up. Condition yourself to make a plan to follow through on these items by the end of the week so you can return to an empty launch pad by Monday.     


Carve out a day with “0” commitments.

Are your days packed with meetings, appointments, and errands? Can you carve out a day, a half-day or even just an evening where you have nowhere to go and no place to be? Could you do this on a regular basis to make it seem like a mini-vacation? Taking a break and just resting are things we need physically and mentally to help us perform at our best. Let’s stop glorifying busyness.


Allow for “0” items on your kitchen countertops.

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home, but it’s also known as the dumping ground of the family. By the end of a week, let alone a day, there can be piles on every flat surface. Aside from the kitchen appliances you use on a regular basis, there should be very little on your kitchen counters. Designate a drawer for mail and bills, devise a command center using wall-mounted bulletin boards and file holders, and institute a 10-minute nightly pick-up routine where everything that doesn’t belong in the kitchen gets put away. It’s amazing how much more productive and energized you’ll feel waking up to a tidy kitchen. 


Spend “0” money on purchases.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention money with holiday deals and Christmas markdowns lurking! Challenge yourself to spend $0 on at least 1 person's present this holiday season. Choose to make a gift or give the gift of your time. You could aim to go a whole weekend spending nothing on entertainment, instead taking part in free community events or enjoying the outdoors. Or you could take part in a no-spending challenge whereby you give yourself a certain period of time ie; week, month, 6-months where you aim to spend nothing aside from food and other necesseties. Might be a good New Year's resolution! Your bank account will thank you!


These are just a few ways that having zero is better than having billions. I ask that in the hustle and bustle of the holidays that you try to pick one item from the list above to work on. I guarantee that getting down to nothing will surely make you feel like something!  How else could you score a “0” in your life? 


Categories: Productivity, Odds and Ends


  • I like the carve out a day with 0 commitments. At least an evening!! Thanks
    12/22/2017 4:34:28 PM Reply
    • @David Kuzminski: Easier said than done, I know. But so important, right? ;)
      12/23/2017 12:09:20 PM Reply
  • Love this post Sarah! So very creative and timely! At a time when we are so busy adding things to our schedules and to-do lists, it's refreshing to think about having a zero mindset instead. Thank you for the advice and encouragement :)
    12/5/2017 6:14:41 PM Reply
  • Great list Sarah! I'm working on the zero tasks on my to-do list by the end of the day. Hard to do when there are so many "extra" tasks in December!
    12/4/2017 8:58:29 AM Reply
    • @Hilda Rodgers: Agreed, Hilda! The month of December always seems to have a lot going on, but even if we can just focus on less it would make a big difference.
      12/8/2017 8:14:21 AM Reply
  • I just how you crafted this concept of zero to extend out in so many interesting and enticing ways. I dream of a zero inbox, but at this point, I'm not even close. The best I can do is focus on a downward trend until one point when maybe, just maybe I'll be at zero. The idea of having zero commitments for even part of a day is essential. It's so easy to get consumed by life's busyness and drama. Having some time to unwind and just be helps me feel more balanced and sane. Thank you for all the wonderful reminders and ways to focus on less.
    12/4/2017 8:03:06 AM Reply
    • @Linda Samuels: Yes, the zero commitments for part of a day is so important. I consider it an act of self-care and one that is so needed during the busyness of the holidays!
      12/8/2017 8:13:32 AM Reply
  • I love the "0" idea. I don't think I ever truly get to zero, in my inbox or on my kitchen counter. Still, I like the idea of striving to minimize. I love looking at my "to do" list and seeing there are "0" items left to do. That's when I go relax on the couch:)
    12/1/2017 11:54:41 AM Reply
    • @Seana Turner: The zero inbox one is hard. But striving for less is the name of the game here! And yes, couch time is in order after crossing items off the to-do list!
      12/8/2017 8:12:17 AM Reply

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