Kaizen is a Japanese word, and it means “improvement.” It is often used in a more specific concept as an approach to project management and efficiency. This term was born in the manufacturing industry, where it described how making a small change to a process could result in increases in efficiency and net profit. This concept quickly spread in the worlds of self-development and business. In both these contexts, small changes can add up to a big impact.
Often Kaizen is understood to mean that you should engage in “micro workouts” and the like. It is interpreted that you should try to form new habits by doing something extremely small and easy. While this can be useful advice in the right context, it is not the true Kaizen.
An example of a kaizen approach would be to look at various tasks you perform in a typical workflow: that means every step you take from booting up your system, to making coffee, to answering emails, to uploading articles. You would then see which of these steps took the longest time and see if there is any way to make each of these steps more efficient – thereby gaining more time and freedom.
For instance, if you fix your system’s booting speed by five minutes, that could result in 25 minutes of extra time per week. What if you stopped taking so many coffee breaks? Or what if you slightly altered the order of your main tasks, such that you didn’t need to switch between programs so much? With a few changes like this, you could save hours every week and become significantly more productive.
Goals are important in life, and to achieve our goals, we need to invest our time and energy. But what if we are already overwhelmed with life and doing so many things that we rarely get time to work on our goals? What is we are tired and stressed out? Here is where Kaizen offers a solution.
So, how to use Kaizen to achieve your goals even when you are busy and tired? Here are the steps.
1. Before you apply Kaizen, identify your goals clearly. When it comes to goal setting, many of us are vague or keep changing our goals impulsively. Such an approach will not give us fruitful results. We should be clear on what we want to achieve. So, think about your life and identify your goals. If it is more money, be clear as to how much more money you want to make. If it is weight loss, be clear as to how many Kgs of weight loss you want to achieve. Quantifying our goals inspires us and helps us stay motivated. Our goals should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely.
For example, if your goal is weight loss, get greater clarity about it by using the below questions.
1. How much weight loss?
2. Is it Achievable?
3. What is the time frame in which the goal needs to be achieved?
4. Is it Realistic?
5. Can weight loss be measured?
These questions will help you develop clarity about your goal.
2. No goal can be achieved without action steps. Goals are just castles in the air if we don’t take any action to achieve them. So, identify the action steps you need to perform to achieve your goals and jot them down. Also, estimate the amount of time each action step takes in a day.
3. Now, think of your current lifestyle and see where you can accommodate these new action steps. Can you add these steps to your morning routine? Or Can you do them while commuting? Think where you can incorporate these steps into your daily life.
4. If you think that you need more time and energy to do these action steps and you lack that amount of time in a day, apply Kaizen as below.
5. Go through your entire day and list down the tasks you are doing. Note the amount of time each task consumes. Writing down these tasks helps you better. Now, ask yourself the below questions.
1. Which tasks can I remove?
2. Which tasks can I club together and complete?
3. Which tasks can be outsourced to others?
4. Are there any tasks that can be automated?
5. Can I buy some machines and make my tasks easy and less time taking?
6. How can I spend less time on a particular task?
7. Which tasks are redundant?
8. Which task takes the most time in the day, and how can I reduce this time?
For example, if you are spending 30 minutes washing your dishes, think if you can hire a maid or buy a dishwasher and save this time. Outsourcing such tasks helps you save time, and this time can be invested in achieving your goals like earning more money or building a healthy body, etc. Or if you are spending 1 hour on Whats app, think if you can cut down this time. Or if you are spending 2 hours per day in commute, think how to use this time productively to achieve your goals. When we write down our tasks, we can easily identify the areas of improvement. We spend a lot of time unaccounted in casual stuff and then think we don’t have enough time to pursue our goals. Writing down the details of our day gives us an awareness of the way we are spending our time.
Once you ask these questions and identify the solutions, you will be surprised to find abundant time in your life. This abundant time helps you to take action steps to achieve your goal. In this way, you can apply Kaizen to achieve any of your goals related to health, wealth, relationships, etc.
Kaizen simplifies life and gives us resources to achieve our goals. It removes the excuse “I have no time or energy” from our lives and shows us clearly that we always have time for things we want to achieve. Everyone on this planet has only 24 hours – be it a sportsperson or movie star or a CEO or a common man, and it’s up to us how we use this time to achieve our goals.