How to make meaningful progress and stop procrastinating

We’re at that time within the yr when bright-eyed intentions begin to go just a little sideways.

The bullet journals begun so diligently in January collect mud.

The morning meditation periods get shorter and shorter.


These resolutions made a mere months in the past appear, looking back, far too cumbersome.

Enter: Kaizen.

The Japanese time period which means “enchancment” requires no apps, journals, or time commitments, however moderately a refined shift in the way in which you use.

First coined as a enterprise instrument after World Battle II, Kaizen has come to symbolize a philosophy of continuous progress—a continuing recalibration that yields sluggish however regular enhancements, like an ever-hastening tortoise. The objective is a smoother course of and increased productivity, which then makes your bigger targets extra potential.

Kaizen is historically employed within the office—the most typical instance is the Toyota factory line, on which all workers are always working to enhance the method—however the philosophy can translate to most areas of life.

Need to improve your money skills? Lastly set up a writing routine? Get extra work completed in much less time? Take into account Kaizen.

The philosophy writes Alan Henry on Lifehacker, could be distilled into six steps: standardize, measure, evaluate, innovate, standardize (once more), repeat. Put merely, it’s the follow of eager about what you’re doing, on the lookout for methods to enhance it, making these adjustments, then persevering with to act upon them.


“Kaizen shouldn’t be change for change’s sake,” Henry writes. “It’s deliberate, fixed enchancment, and adjustments that don’t really carry you rewards shouldn’t be made. Productiveness is a double-edged sword in spite of everything. You may spend extra time attempting out new issues and researching new instruments than you’d really doing all your work.”

As an alternative, you’ll need your adjustments to assist you to out not directly—by eliminating busywork, for instance, or establishing accountability.

? Right here’s how to incorporate the philosophy into your day by day life.

Begin Small

Change is thrilling! The probabilities appear countless! However pause earlier than you get carried away, since tackling too large a process can lead to frustration or stalling when issues don’t transfer as shortly as you’d hoped.

As an alternative of attempting to enhance your largest, most vital undertaking, begin with one thing manageable, like your lunch routine.

Say you purchase lunch most days every week. Somewhat than vowing to make lunch every single day for the subsequent month, take a look at why you’re shopping for lunch so usually. Is it a matter of comfort? Boredom? Does the small splurge assist maintain your finances on monitor in different methods? When you’ve figured that out, take a small step towards enchancment. Maybe you carry lunch on Mondays, whereas your motivation is excessive. Or perhaps you simply change to a less expensive possibility and proceed to purchase lunch.

When you’ve made that first small change, you may put together for the subsequent shift, then the subsequent.

Keep in mind: The focus is on progress, not an overhaul.

Discover Focus By Auditing Your Time

As soon as every week or so, scan your latest duties for tactics to enhance. Chances are you’ll end up spending hours fielding emails, for instance, or often ready on enter from colleagues earlier than you may actually get cracking.

Exterior of labor, you may understand that heading dwelling, moderately than straight to the fitness center, normally means you skip your planned workout.


Instruments like your cellphone may also help clue you in to time spent swiping by social media, or checking e-mail, whereas maintaining monitor of your day’s actions may give you an thought of what will get completed in 24 hours.

After you have a greater image of how you spend your time, you may alter accordingly. The identical goes for in-the-moment realizations, too: For those who get midway by a process solely to understand issues may very well be far simpler than you’ve made them, pause and jot that thought down. The following time you go to carry out that process, make the required changes and see how issues go. Keep in mind, it’s all concerning the small pivots.

Get Suggestions

The time period “efficiency evaluation” sends a shiver down even the straightest of spines, however asking for extra informal suggestions could be gamechanger. A boss or co-worker’s perspective can supply much-needed distance, and assist you to to see potential in hidden locations. And as you take a look at what to change and how, don’t overlook to think about the way in which that others do issues.

Progress doesn’t all the time require reinventing the wheel.

Take into account a Kaizen Blitz

In corporate-speak, a brief interval of speedy enchancment is referred to as a “Kaizen Blitz.” A bunch of workers will focus on one explicit ache level—say, a clunky payroll system—and rework the method to take away the maintain ups inside a number of days, following a set of tips.

The enterprise strategy is a multifaceted battle plan, however you may apply the identical thought to your individual life.

Say you sometimes pay your bills over the course of every month. Some are on-line solely, whereas others come as paper statements. You pay your web from one account, and bank card from one other. You might have a hazy thought of the way it all comes collectively.

After your subsequent payday, strive a Kaizen Blitz: Check out what’s been working thus far, streamline funds, centralize accounts, create a spreadsheet or two, and clear every part up. You’ll get every part completed for that month, and set your self up for future success. The secret is to keep small, transforming tiny duties that make a big affect general.

Depart Room to Waste Time

Let’s face it: 100% productiveness is a recipe for burnout. Typically we want to do issues inefficiently to give us time to course of, or to uncover one thing we might have in any other case ignored.

Kaizen is all about making progress—not turning you right into a machine. Make sure to keep away from altering an excessive amount of without delay, and think about using any gained free time to go for a stroll or take a rest room stall dance break, moderately than taking over extra work.

Simply as small steps can lead to large progress, so can also small breaks forestall large burnout.