There are ways to apply KAIZEN into your day-to-day life. Improvement, especially the Kaizen philosophy, may seem daunting at first but is actually very simple. Kaizen play into the human intuition and the desire to constantly seek improvement. We list down three ways you can start implementing the Kaizen approach in your work life right now. Whether you’re trying to be more productive and efficient at the office by eliminating distractions or attempting to finish a project, these tips can help you get there gradually.
1. Identify Where Your Time & Energy Is Wasted
One of Kaizen’s core principles is waste reduction, and it comes into play in more scenarios than you might think. A key to unlocking more productivity is to do less, not more.
If you can never find the time to devote to the projects that are important to you, it’s possible that some of your time is being wasted by unnecessary tasks. Identify what you need to stop doing. We’re frequently not aware of the attentional leaks that permeate our day, so start by auditing your schedule.
Track every task you perform and the time involved for a few weeks. Once you have this pool of data, assess whether each task is truly needed or if you are just operating on autopilot. If you determine a task is mission critical, how can you do it better or faster by scaling yourself? Maybe you could create a template for certain reports or emails you write?
Many people actually find this exercise eye – opening. They’re able to liberate themselves from useless meetings that don’t actually require their presence, or cut out obligations and to – do’s that aren’t producing any tangible results beyond draining them.
2. Know What Makes You More Productive or Efficient
As you start to identify areas for improvement, the key is to start with bite-sized changes. Make sure to start small. Don’t start making big changes, as tempting as it might be. Normally, we get impatient and want immediate results. But when you consider that incremental improvements over time are much more likely to stick (as opposed to sweeping, cataclysmic changes), starting small seems increasingly appealing, although it does take patience.
If, for example, you’re trying to boost your productivity at the office so you don’t have to work through lunch, brainstorm what minimally disruptive changes might help you accomplish that. Maybe it means arriving to work 15 minutes early each morning so you’re not rushing, or setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to take a break, making you less likely to plow through and ignore your rumbling stomach.
If those methods don’t make a difference, keep trying something else. And if they do make a difference, continue to refine your newfound habit, little by little.
3. Review What’s Working & What Can Be Improved
When we get busy, we don’t take time to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t. But for Kaizen to work, you need to reflect on how things are going, especially when you sense you’re hitting a friction point. Like a Toyota employee stopping the production line, pause and document points where your personal productivity hits a snag or you find yourself getting annoyed, frustrated, or distracted. Those reactions signal a break down in the system that need to be repaired, but more importantly, an opportunity to practice self-control and slow down.
You can implement an official one-hour weekly review on a Sunday night to prioritize your focus and projects for the week ahead. It’s important to strike a balance between optimization and appreciation by integrating both positive and negative experiences. Try a twist on the typical daily gratitude practice:
- What was the “high point” of your day?
- What was your “low point” of the day?
- What could you improve upon for next time?
- What did you feel proud of today?
- What did you learn?
The result of using the Kaizen philosophy
Kaizen is the alternative to the feelings of defeat and failure we experience after setting overly ambitious resolutions or goals, only to abandon them a few weeks later. And while Kaizen won’t change your life overnight, it can set significant change into motion — bit by bit.
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