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In this episode of The Optimized Mom Podcast, I chat about my experience with the Global Day of Unplugging and how it inspired me to “hit the reset button” and make some changes to my digital life. I suggest that there are six additional areas of our lives that we might want to reevaluate from time to time:
Note: This transcript was produced using speech-recognition software and has received minimal edits. If possible, I encourage you to listen to the audio version.
Welcome to the Optimized Mom podcast where we explore strategies for trading burnout, overwhelm, and exhaustion for simplicity, efficiency and joy. Why? Because I want you to have the time and energy to care for yourself, have fun with your family, and share your sparkle with the world.
Well, hey there, Anissa here, and I’ve got a question for you today: Do you need to hit the reset button on anything in your life? Let me explain. Last week, if you were listening, you heard that I was going to do the Global Day of Unplugging. This is when from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday, we completely turn off our digital devices and detach from all of that stuff and it was really awesome.
I knew it was going to be awesome because I’ve done it before. But I was surprised because I feel like my digital life is something that I’m very intentional about. And I have gone through before and done a lot of the work to clear up things like notifications and, and to get to Inbox Zero and all that sort of stuff.
But I was really reminded of the fact that this isn’t a one-and-done process, this digital detoxing sort of a thing, and neither is anything else in our lives.
I remember feeling similarly about the idea that I did this major decluttering about as major as you could go. Back in 2019, our family got rid of everything we owned to travel. And I was so excited because it was like, boy, now I’ve gotten rid of everything. I’ll never have to do this again and sort of laughing when I would end up in an Airbnb for a month or two. And I would have clutter again. And now that I’m in a four-bedroom house that we’re renting. Yeah, we still get clutter, we still have to keep going through and always checking in on these systems.
You know, it’s so easy to start coasting in life, to go on autopilot. And, you know, honestly, this is one of my goals in life is to, to let’s make life run as smoothly as possible. Let’s let most things just sort of run themselves. And so I love creating these systems, but they do need to be just updated and checked in on from time to time.
So one of the things that I really noticed during the Global Day of Unplugging when I had that, that sort of system interrupt was that, my whatsapp had gone completely out of control. I had, for some reason I had turned on the notifications for that. And then I didn’t really notice how they had just gotten out of control. My local homeschool group uses whatsapp and also my, my fellow heroic coaches use whatsapp. And so there is valuable information to be found in there. But it’s also buzzing at all times. I mean, you’ve got hundreds of people using this thing and that was the biggest thing I noticed was not being interrupted by what’s happened. So that’s an easy fix. I went in, I turned the notifications back off and now I’ll just need to remember to check in once a day, twice a day. You know, maybe I won’t even need that much, but I can check in on my own schedule and not be constantly interrupted like that.
The second thing I noticed was I’ve got this routine of every morning going through and scrolling through my junk emails to make sure that there’s nothing good in there. But I don’t usually read most of the stuff that’s in that box. There’s a lot that is junk, there’s a lot that is good stuff that just simply does not fit into my life. And so I went through when I got my devices back on Sunday and I said, you know what, I don’t like having this as part of my schedule. It’s taking too much of my time and too much of my energy and those, those really good, but just not for me emails that are in my junk email box give me this real sense of FOMO and you know, of a little bit of anxiety and stress that, that there’s more good stuff that I have to consume then I actually have bandwidth for. And so I went through on Sunday and actually unsubscribed from some really, really great newsletters, but they’re just ones that I never read. I also unsubscribed from some notifications for things that have just kind of crept back in, you know, like you order a shirt online or something, then all of a sudden you’re getting all the coupons and all that. And I actually went through and just took a few minutes to unsubscribe from that, which, you know, took time now, but will save me time every day as I’m waiting through all that stuff.
The other thing that I noticed was that I really don’t want to sleep with my iPad in my bedroom, the night that I did the digital detox, I charged it in another room. I have been leaving it in my bedroom ostensibly so that in the morning, you know, I journal on my iPad, I have a biofeedback app that I use in the morning. I have guided meditations on the iPad. So, the excuse that I was using was that I needed it in my room. So that when I woke up, it’s part of my morning routine. I had to have it there. But what sometimes ends up happening is that because it’s right there and so easy to grab, after I’ve gone to bed, I might jump up and grab it to add something to a Trello board or to, you know, just check one thing that I had a quick question about or put something on my to-do list, you know, just–I should be done for the day. But having this siren next to me on the nightstand is sometimes a little bit too much.
So I would find myself reaching for it at bedtime and even I have blue light glasses and stuff, but it’s still getting me more ramped up before sleep than I need to be. Also, I noticed in the middle of the night when I wake up, I will put on a meditation or a sleep story or something like that if I can’t sleep and that’s fine. But the night that I was doing the detox, I just laid in bed and practiced some breathing exercises and counted backwards and that sort of thing. And I still fell asleep. So it’s a crutch that I just don’t need. And I really am trying to cultivate silence, to cultivate stillness to turn inward when I can and not be constantly, you know, at, at the 1st second that I feel boredom or confusion or, you know, that I want to know something that, I can pause for a second and think about it before reaching out.
So those were the three things that I noticed that just needed a little refresh. So I’ve turned off my WhatsApp notifications. I’ve cleaned out a lot of junk email that is not junk but is just, doesn’t have a place in my life. And I’ve moved my iPad to another room and that was all because I had this Global Day of Unplugging and it was a chance just to kind of interrupt the system and, and take a look at it with fresh eyes.
You know, we are such creatures of habit and this is by design. Our brains are always trying to simplify all of the things that they have to do in a day because if you had to think about everything that you do, you would have no brain power left for anything else. And so know that even if you feel like you are the most chaotic or disorganized person in the world, you still have habits and routines that are a part of your daily life. And sometimes we can sort of unintentionally just get on a path that we don’t like. It may be something that used to work for us that doesn’t work for us anymore. But it also might be something that we never really intentionally chose. I know for me the WhatsApp notifications it must have just been because as a rule, I do not keep notifications on my phone except from a few V I P s. But, it must have been something that at one point I missed a message that was important. And I said, well, I better turn these back on and now it’s, I don’t need them anymore.
And so I would suggest that if you haven’t looked at your routines in a while, take a look at your life. I am going to set a reminder in my calendar to do this at least once a month just to check in on a particular area. And for, for all of us today, I’ve sat down and sort of divided these categories up into six different ones, places where we can look. And I would suggest that you as you’re listening to these, think about the area in your life that feels the most chaotic, the most off the rails or the most kind of just not in alignment with where you want to be.
And we’re gonna look at this just sort of curiosity and a little smile on our face. It’s not worth getting stressed out about. We’re never going to be done with this process of optimizing our lives and of making life good. You know, the goal is always to sort of maybe today, maybe tomorrow could be 1% better than today. We’re not going for crazy huge changes. But as I said, with the junk emails even just saving myself, you know, the minutes every day of scrolling through and saving myself that teensy little bit of regret. Oh, I wish I had time to read that thing from that person. I know that that’s going to compound and make my life just a little bit better going forward.
So, here are some areas that you might take a look at to see if you need to hit the reset button somewhere and make some changes. The first one is your zest. Your zest is your lust for life, your energy, your health, your vitality in looking at your zest has something gone off the rails, you know, did your sleep get messed up when you had a newborn in the house? And now your kid is three and your sleep is still a disaster. This would be a good time to take a look at some of those sleep hygiene kind of things. Do you need to move your ipad out of your bedroom? Would it help to go to bed a little bit earlier or to move your dinner a little bit earlier in the day so that your body metabolically was ready to slow down and relax? Do you need to make your room darker or more comfortable or you know, any of these kind of things just checking in?
Have you gotten complacent with just–Well, I sleep like crap every night. Never gonna get any better. Oh, well. Maybe this is a good time to hit the reset button on that, checking in on things like meditations, you know, is, are you meditating? If not, could you start doing just a minute a day? If you are someone who meditates, has it gotten stale? Do you need to change things up? And if you’ve been meditating with, with breathing, maybe swap to a mantra or swapped accounting or something like that?
Your meals–are the things you’re eating, serving you, are you sick of, all the things that you’re cooking and maybe need to just splash it up with a couple of new recipes or is dinner just an absolute disaster every night? Do you, would you benefit from taking a few minutes to put some kind of a meal plan into place? Your workouts? Are you working out? If you’re not working out? Could you make space for even something like a walk? You know, just checking in.
Do you feel vital and healthy? Do you feel ready to take on the day every morning? And if the answer is no, then be honest with yourself. Is this one of those seasons in life where you’re absolutely doing the best you can, you are tapped out. You can’t do anymore. You know, if you’ve got a newborn baby in the house, you’re just hanging on by your fingernails. But did you sort of get off the rails back then and never get back on if that’s the answer for you? Maybe this is a good thing to hit the reset button on.
You might also take a look at your love. These are all of your relationships with, you know, everybody. So, has your relationship with your partner or with your kids gotten stale? Are you guys spending more time looking at screens, than you’d like to, or, or just kind of talking about superficial things and, and, and not about special things anymore? Do you like the way that you’re spending your mealtimes and your bedtimes and your evenings and your weekends all of this time that you have together? Does it feel like it’s, it’s adding value to everybody’s lives?
You know, they, I was just listening to a live coaching Luminary session with Tal Ben-Shahar who is an expert on happiness the other day. And he was saying, you know, the biggest predictor of our happiness is the health of our relationships. And so this is super important, but it’s really easy to take these people that we’re close with for granted. To just think, well, you know, I’ve been married to my husband now at this point for what, 13 years and, you know, we did promise to spend the rest of our lives together. So, what does today matter that much? And then you get day after day of that. And, it really does start to erode the quality of that relationship and then by extension, the quality of your happiness.
What about your relationship with your extended family or your friends? You know, have you gotten out of the habit of, reaching out to the people that you love? You could put a new routine in place here, hit the reset button on that relationship and maybe you decide you call someone once a week on this day or once a month on this day. You know, check in once a day with a text message. It’s really not that hard in our modern day and age to reach out to people. And, you know, if you’ve gotten out of the habit because life has gotten busy, then now is a great chance to just re-evaluate that and jump back in. And, you know, in addition to re-evaluating where we might need to reach out more, reevaluate, I mean, are there relationships that are sucking the life out of you? If they are, maybe your reset button is having that difficult conversation to make changes in that relationship that isn’t serving you. Maybe it is time to get off of automatic pilot and just look, you know, this friendship isn’t doing it for me. This marriage isn’t doing it for me. It’s, this is not sustainable the way that it is. And, yeah, we can go for, for years, decades, sometimes just never looking up and evaluating this kind of stuff. So maybe you need to do a little love check and hit the reset button there.
Maybe Zest and love aren’t what you need to look at. Maybe it’s your work. How are your systems in your work? Do you have systems in your work? And remember work, can be, I, I count in my work, homeschooling my kids, I count in my work taking care of the house, you know, I have the official like jobs for pay that I do. But yeah, anything that you’re, you’re doing you know, with an attitude to make the world better to, to add something to contribute something that’s your work. So do you need different systems in your work?
One of the things I noticed this week was we had kind of gotten off a little bit on our home school in terms of the boys, you know, they’re old enough now that they can do a lot on their own. And so I would kind of say, oh, hey, make sure, you know, today you’ve got to do Beast Academy, you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do this and they would say, yeah, yeah, mom and then I would trust that they did it and I wasn’t always really super about checking back with them. So then a couple weeks ago by and I went, you know, because with the curriculum that we use, you usually can check online and kind of see what people have been doing. And, uh, yeah, they hadn’t been doing as much as I had assumed they’d been doing based on the fact that I reminded them. So we did a little reset of that. I put a little, we have these wipe-on, wipe-off boards on the fridge. I just made each of them a schedule and I gave them little boxes they could check off. So that they know every day exactly what they need to do for the day. What the, the lesson is. It’s a teensy bit more work for me, but it’s, it’s worth it so that they’re actually learning what they need to learn and we’re staying on track with where we want to be and so that they’re seeing how to put systems in place to make sure the things that you want to do get done. So we did that.
Are you spending too much time on things that should be completely deleted from your life or delegated to somebody else? Maybe now is a good time to check, especially if you’re feeling like you’re completely overwhelmed in your work. Would you benefit from implementing a new habit? I love Cal Newport talks about doing what’s called shutdown complete. So at the end of your day, you go through, you kind of tie up any loose ends, you make your to-do list for tomorrow. So that, you know, right where you’re gonna start and then you shut everything down and you stop thinking about it. Now, I know not everyone’s job is such that you can completely turn it off. But we need to have this oscillation between the times that we’re working and the times that we’re not working and I think, think most jobs, there are some that you need, need, need to be on call. But ask yourself if you truly need to be on call or if people have just gotten used to you being on call and available at all the time at all times. And is there a way that you could implement this shutdown complete?
Has your work overgrown its boundaries altogether? Like you started out and it was a 40-hour week and now it’s an 80-hour week and it just sort of gradually mutated and expanded and took over everything. If that’s not okay with you, maybe that’s something to put the reset button on. Maybe you’re doing a job that no longer lights you up at all, you’re just going through the motions. And like I said about the love thing, this is the kind of thing that we can just kind of coast at for years and years and years and then just realize we’re unhappy. Maybe work is where you need to shine the flashlight.
If zest and love and work are feeling okay for you. How about your leisure? Are you making time to enjoy your life? This is the only life we’ve got. Right. I think a lot of us are, are always sort of thinking about, well, have fun when we’ll do that when our kids are older or when work is not so busy or when the weather is better or, you know, whatever it’s, we’re putting off life for another time. And sadly, uh, a lot of people end up missing out on life altogether because of that. So maybe you want to shine a flashlight on how you’re spending your free time. You know, are the things that you’re doing for leisure actually fun? I know TV gets a bad rap and there are plenty of people that genuinely love their shows. But I know for me if I have to pick, I mean, there, there are programs that I genuinely enjoy and, and we, we certainly watch TV in my house. We were really excited. Mandalorian is back. We tuned in last Wednesday to watch that one. But are these shows that you’re watching adding value to your life or is there something that you could be doing with your leisure time that is more enjoyable than that? Could you do an even exchange that wouldn’t take any more time but would make your life richer and more fulfilling?
What about the places that you’re going for vacation or for date night? Are there changes that you would need to make there, do you always just, whenever you get a free weekend, go, you know, to the same town or the same restaurant or the same, whatever? And would you, even though those places are great, would it be fun? Would it be richer? Would it be more exciting to do a little pattern interrupt there and find something new? Don’t underestimate how much richness and excitement it can add to life even just swapping out one thing for another.
So if your zest, your love, your work, your leisure all feel okay, what about money? Have you put your money stuff on autopilot? Are there subscriptions you have that could be cut? Are there bills that you could be putting on to auto-pay? Are there bills that you need to take off of auto pay? Because they, you know, they changed all of a sudden you were just paying this and you weren’t even thinking about it and the price for the service or whatever. Do you have investments that need rebalancing? Do you have credit cards or banks that have changed their policies? And now the APR is really high or the interest rate is really low and, you know, you could take an afternoon and kind of hit the reset button here and have financial systems that work better for you.
And finally, what about your home? Do you have cleaning systems that work for you? Is your home comfortable? Do you enjoy being there? Do you like the way that it looks is there clutter around that you have just stopped seeing because that stack of papers is always on that one chair? And so it, that’s just the chair with papers on it and it’s fine. It’s just become a part of the decor.
Have you changed your furnace filter lately or done some of those other home maintenance things that, that we forget about? Check in, you know, your home is supposed to be ideally your haven, your respite from the rest of the world, this, this warm, comfortable, safe place, you know, no matter how big or how small or how fancy or not fancy it is, that’s ideally what we would like it to be. And so if your home has gotten away from that and, and it started, you know, small and just gradually turned into this monster, maybe that’s where you want to hit the reset button. And it’s possible.
So, I gave you these six areas and sort of a bonus seventh one because I talked about my digital life. But I, I mentioned zest love, work, leisure money and home, and digital life. But maybe when I first said, look into your routines, look into this way that you’re coasting through life. Maybe something popped up immediately for you as, oh, this one thing–go for that, make that the first thing that you do and tweak and change. Autopilot, as I’ve said is wonderful. I love autopilot when it’s working. But we do need to revisit these things. You can’t just put something on autopilot once and expect that it’s just going to work for the rest of your life. We are creatures of habit, but we are also dynamic beings that grow and change all the time.
So that is my challenge for you this week. Either work on it this week or put a day in the calendar to just take a look at something in your life that’s been going on autopilot that needs a little refresh. I hope you have a terrific week and I will talk to you soon.