All aboard the self-improvement train! At Debut, we’re constantly looking for new ways to work more effectively. So, when we came across this productivity trick we knew we had to share it with y’all. After all, we’re still about that new year, new you hype, right?
Anyone who’s done an A Level in Business Studies may have heard of the Japanese approach to business management called Kaizen. Whilst the word ‘Kaizen’ only directly translates to the word ‘improvement’, the phrase generally refers to business practices which aim to continuously improve. (Emphasis on ‘continuous’.)
The Kaizen approach was originally designed to improve businesses. However, we reckon we can take these lessons and apply this to our day-to-day lives.
The Kaizen Method
So, the basics behind the Kaizen method is to focus on small, but consistent improvements. Author James Clear sums it up this way:
The most important thing to remember is that self-improvement never stops. There’s no such thing as perfection, after all. Having said that, the pursuit of perfection is a good thing, as long as we take one small step at a time.
1% a day
How small should those steps be, you say? Well, Brett and Kate McKay from The Art of Manliness suggests you focus on getting 1% better in the thing you want to improve.
We hear you – this seems pretty slow-going. Here’s the justification: breaking down big, hairy, audacious goals into smaller bits makes the big goal all the more achievable. For example, aiming to read 60 books this year seems like a proper mountain to climb. Instead of making that the goal, why not aim to read for 20 minutes a day instead? Smaller goals are so much easier to digest. The smaller, more accessible the action, the more likely it’ll get turned into a good habit.
The best part about the Kaizen method is that it allows you to work on a few things at once. Big goals tend to take up all your capacity for attention – but with this method, working on a few projects at once is actually realistic.
One thing to keep in mind with this approach is that once you start on a Kaizen plan of change, maintain those good habits. If you’re already writing 200 words a day, keep that habit up forever. Heck, push yourself to do more every once in a while, increasing the limit to 300 woods, 400 and beyond.
Actionable Kaizen suggestions you can apply to your life
- Wake up 15 minutes earlier every morning. Apply this for the first 30 days, then extend this to 30 minutes. You’ll find that you’ll have more time for important things like breakfast, or even a quick workout.
- Start writing a one-line-a-day journal. Give this a go for the first three months, then give writing two lines a day a shot.
- Practice mindfulness at university or in the office by doing one minute of breathing exercises at lunchtime daily. Increase this to two, then five once you’re ready.
- Drink too much caffeine? Aim to cut your intake down by one cup for 30 days. Then aim to cut it down by another cup again. (You get the idea.)
- If you’re the kind of person who’s constantly attached to your screen, try putting your laptop and phone away half an hour before bedtime. Increase this to one hour before bedtime after 30 days.
We’re sure there are more little Kaizen changes we can apply to our life. Come up with a good one? Tweet us @DebutCareers with your suggestion!
Feature image via Death to Stock Photo, GIFs via Giphy