While strolling home after a bagel date with my good friend David, he asked me to explain my New Year’s mantra of Kaizen.
– noun: originating in Japanese business practice, it means continuous incremental improvement.
Proud that I had adopted such an out-of-the-box mantra for the year I delivered this definition with great enthusiasm. He asked me to give an example of how I’ve put this into practice. I really struggled with my answer, which not only surprised me, but led to me doubting my success at this endeavor.I spent the next few days thinking about it. In general I’ve become more aware of my deficiencies, which has helped me to improve my processes, but that wasn’t enough. I needed to come back with an example that proved my success.
The greatest life improvement in 2012 has been my strides on being more on time. I have always struggled with being the poster child of punctuality, which is not fun for anyone. Here’s how I did it.
I started by being honest about my reasons for being late.
I’ve underestimated the amount of time it takes me to get ready – always feeling like it shouldn’t take me as long as it does. Why do other people only need 1/2 hour?
My thinking was that if I just didn’t give myself as long, I’d get used to it and somehow do it more quickly. Instead of dwelling on that I began accepting that it takes me a solid 45 minutes each morning, and tacking on an additional 15 minutes only makes it that much easier – and less stressful!
Speaking of making it easier I found ways to do just that. I never go to bed anymore without making sure my purse is packed and I’ve gathered everything I need for the next day so I can simply grab my stuff and go.
Do I need my laptop? Pack it up. Do I have reading material for the train, pick it out and pack it. Will I need a snack? Pack it. You get the drift.
Another thing I’ve done is alleviated some stress on packing for an after work trip to the gym. I always seem to forget something – my water bottle, a hair tie, my socks…
So I made a list on a post-it note. Such an easy solution that saves the time I’ve spent racking my brain.
The bottom line is I found ways to streamline my life to save time and in turn reduce stress. This is just one example of how I’ve achieved the essence of Kaizen.
Have you thought about ways to streamline your life? I’d love to hear about them!