How One Tiny Thing Can Change Your Day and Your Life
The concept of kaizen teaches us that making small, tiny changes to our routine and lifestyle can add up to overwhelming differences in your overall productivity, happiness, and performance.
An example of this might be to write a page of a novel every day. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but if you consider that an average novel might have 300 pages; well then you could easily write the whole thing in a year as a result!
Or what if you were to save just $10 a day? Again, it seems perfectly doable. But by the end of the year you’ll have putt away $3,600! Enough for an impressive holiday.
But kaizen is also about the way in which a single small deviation can have huge repercussions when it is amplified by time. What do we mean by that?
Well, consider throwing a ball to a target. When we do this, our brains actually perform incredibly complex math first. When you throw that ball, you need to get the angle and the force precisely right. If your angle is 5 degrees off, then that might not seem like a lot, but as the ball travels it will deviate from the intended course more and more.
The further it goes, the bigger the gap becomes.
Life is like this. You might do something only very slightly different every day, but over time that will add up to a greater and greater effect. This is particularly true in scenarios where there is a cumulative effect.
But it gets even simpler than that. When we consider the “butterfly effect,” we realize that even the smallest thing can add up to having huge repercussions.
Take for example shaving in the morning. You might decide one morning not to shave because you’re in a hurry or you might decide that you are going to.
Small difference right? But what if on that day, you happen bump into someone in the street, an old colleague perhaps? You get to chatting and they think you look good like you have your act together. They ask you some questions, and as a result, end up offering you to come and interview for a new job.
What if you hadn’t shaved? What if you were looking tired and unshaven? Might they not have given you that opportunity?
It’s very possible. And while this isn’t exactly what we mean by kaizen, it does highlight one very important truth: tiny differences add up to huge results. So focus on the minutiae!
10 Tiny Improvements You Can Make to Yourself Right Now
We all want to be better. We all want to be the best versions of ourselves. Problem is that getting to this point can be difficult when you have so little time and energy left in a typical day.
Attempting to start a huge new workout regime, or set up a home business will often just be met with resistance, failure, and disappointment. These are huge changes that you hope to enact, and very often we don’t have the energy or time to make them happen.
So instead, why not start very small and then let those little changes add up to a better you? Here are ten tiny improvements you can make to yourself right now.
1. Make Your Bed in the Morning: This is a great way to “train” your willpower, not to mention improve the bed you come home to that evening. You’ll even sleep better!
2. Wake Up Ten Minutes Earlier: What could you do with ten more minutes in your day? Just move your clock ten minutes earlier, you’ll hardly notice the difference.
3. Take Omega 3 Fatty Acid: This boosts brain function, energy, immunity, and more. It also helps to fight inflammation, and most of us don’t get enough of it.
4. Sit Outside: For at least five minutes a day. You’ll sleep better, boost vitamin D, get more fresh air, and even improve your temperature regulation and immune system. Try doing something you already do but move it outside like exercise.
5. Meditate for Five Minutes: Meditation has HUGE and profound benefits. It’s also something that can be hard to stick with. So start with just five minutes a day, that’s actually enough to see improvements in mood, focus, and more.
6. Drink More Water: You’ll look slimmer, look better, and feel more energetic. Most of us are permanently dehydrated.
7. Get New Shoes Or a watch. Or a suit. In short make one small change to improve the way you look. You’ll feel better and people will treat you differently.
8. Breathe With Your Mouth Closed: If you don’t already, make this a commitment. You’ll find it actually improves your looks and it helps to better filter and improve the oxygen coming in.
9. Do 20 Press Ups Every Day: This will boost energy levels, tone your abs, increase your pushing strength, and serve as the basis for a larger training program.
10. Floss Your Mouth: A small thing that not only makes your teeth whiter but has been shown to reduce risk of cancer and more!
How to Spend Your Time Wisely for Maximum Impact
Let’s say that you’re an entrepreneurial app developer. You’ve released apps in the past that have been highly successful, as well as a few duds. Now it’s time to work on your next project.
Problem is you have too many ideas and no idea which to work on first!
So we’re going to apply the concept of “kaizen” in a unique way to answer that question, and then see how the same approach can be useful in other areas of life.
So kaizen means improvement and the idea is that you’re employing small changes on a continual basis in order to add up to big impact. It’s about focusing on the small details in order to make your workflow more efficient.
In our case, that is going to mean asking what is the most efficient course of action, by again asking what the “smallest” things we can do are.
The aim should be to pick out the app ideas that are the quickest to make, but have the highest chance of earning the most money.
So if you have an idea that you think could change the world, but it will take you years and years to get it off the ground, then you should forget that one. The risk here is simply too high: what if you spend all that time and you aren’t successful?
Likewise though, if an app idea is quick but is unlikely to find an audience, what’s the point? From a business perspective at least, this doesn’t make any sense.
So pick the option that has the highest chance of the most success, and that involves the least work and effort. In a short amount of time, you can drastically increase your income and if your predictions were wrong, you have not wasted too much time or effort upfront.
How does this apply elsewhere?
It’s simply a matter of picking the most efficient options to focus your efforts on.
In exercise, this might mean picking exercises that offer the most physical benefits but involve the least amount of work and effort.
In finance, it might mean cutting out the expenses that would have the biggest impact on your income, but the smallest impact on your lifestyle.
By looking for low risk, high yield choices throughout your life, you can maximize every aspect of your lifestyle and achieve a whole lot more.
How to Use Kaizen to Get What You Want In Life
Kaizen is a Japanese word meaning “improvement.” However, it is also often used in a more specific concept, as an approach to project management and efficiency.
The term was born in manufacturing, where it described the way in which making a small change to a process in an assembly line could result in HUGE increases in efficiency and net profit thanks to automation and force multiplication.
This concept quickly caught on in the worlds of business and self-development respectively. In both contexts, small changes can add up to big impact.
Often kaizen is taken to mean that you should engage in “microworkouts” and the like. 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 true kaizen.
An example of a kaizen approach would be to look at everything you do in a typical workflow: that means every step you take from booting up the computer, to making coffee, to answering emails, to uploading articles.
You’d then see which of these steps was taking the longest, and see if there was any way to make them each more efficient, to thereby gain more time and freedom.
For instance, if you fix your computer’s booting up 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? A few changes like this and you could save hours every week to become significantly more productive.
What does this have to do with getting what you want from life?
Simple: you can take this exact approach to your current lifestyle in order to make time and energy for the things you want to do. That might mean investing in a dishwasher so that you can spend less time washing up in the evening, even getting a cleaner if you can afford one!
It might also mean doing some kind of chore on the commute home, such that you don’t need to do it when you get back in the evening.
Either way, this kind of thinking makes your daily grind more efficient. Therefore, you suddenly can fit in a few hours to workout and you have the energy to do so to boot! And the same goes for whatever else it is that you would like to achieve.
Where People Go Wrong With Goal Setting
Goal setting is something that a lot of people simply don’t really understand. That is to say that they take the entire wrong approach to it, which in turn results in them never seeing the results that they hoped to see.
There are lots of things we could improve about goal setting, but for now we’re going to look at one thing specifically that relates to the Japanese concept of “kaizen.”
That is: being too ambitious right away.
Now, just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with ambition. There is nothing wrong with deciding your goal is to become president of the United States, to have the best body that anyone has ever had. Or to become filthy rich.
That’s all fine.
The problem is when you try and achieve that immediately.
The perfect example of this is working out. So many people will go from not exercising at all, to taking on a training program that is hugely too ambitious for them.
So for example, they might decide that they are going to try and work out four times a week at the gym. That sounds like a reasonable and modest goal, until you realise that they’re going to be training for an hour, probably travelling for 30 minutes, and likely showering for 20. Throw in getting changed, and preparing for the next day, and suddenly you’re introducing about 8 hours of work into your routine.
Eight hours is not a small amount. In fact, it is an entire working day!
Not only is this a huge amount of time, but it’s also a huge amount of energy you are expected to expend. And if you aren’t exercising right now, it’s probably because you don’t have the time or energy! What is going to change this time exactly?
Better is to set a target of training at home for 20 minutes twice a week. A far more modest aim, but a much healthier start.
A similar example is when someone wants to create an app. So often they will come up with an idea for an app they think will change the world, an app that they think can rival Facebook. This requires cloud computing, security measures, and all sorts of other things! Can they program? Well, no.
There is nothing wrong with this ambition. But it should not be the first thing they make. The first thing they make should be a clever calculator, or a throw away game. THAT is how you succeed.
Start small. Be consistent. Success takes time.
How to Save a LOT of Money by Saving a LITTLE
One of the big problems people face when it comes to trying to achieve their goals, is that they want to see certain results immediately. There is something much more appealing about the notion of being richer in a week, or being in better shape by the end of the month.
Unfortunately, this just isn’t how it works. At least not in most cases.
Rather, in order to see the results you want, you need to put in consistent boring effort on a daily and weekly and monthly basis.
Saving money is the perfect example of this. You won’t save money with some kind of scheme or some kind of trick. You aren’t going to fix your bank accounts overnight.
But what you can do, is to make lots of small smart decisions that will add up to large savings over time. This is Kaizen.
Let’s take a look at some examples of how to do this.
Write a Budget
It starts by writing a budget. The problem is when people are very vague about this, not knowing quite what they actually spend on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
They then make random assertions to spend X amount less in this category or that, or they randomly cut out one type of activity that normally costs money.
This tends to not work. Instead, you should try to create a strict budget that will show you precisely what you spend in each category in your life.
That means things like travel, entertainment, groceries, eating out etc. Once you’ve done this, you can assess how much you are spending in each area.
This is a very useful exercise because it immediately illuminates the areas where you are spending more money than you need to, the areas where waste is happening and where you aren’t being efficient.
NOW you apply a kaizen approach by making a commitment, a SMALL commitment, in just one of those areas. For example, you might say that you’re going to spend $10 less on entertainment next month. That might seem like a small deal, but it can make a big impact over time.
Or how about saying that you’ll spend $5 less on transport, this might mean just choosing to walk a a little more. Once you manage this, you can then try and cut back by another $5 in another area next month.
Keep doing this and month after month you will streamline your savings, and that’s how you can eventually become very wealthy!
Kaizen in Your Relationships
Kaizen is the Japanese concept of incremental improvement. It means making small daily changes that add up over time to represent huge differences in your life.
The concept comes from manufacturing, where making a small improvement can result in gigantic changes that can hugely impact on profits in a good way.
This same strategy is often applied to weight loss, exercise, productivity, and finance.
But what about relationships? How can we apply this concept to one of the things that matters most in life?
One piece of advice that any new couple should heed is this: be wary of the patterns and habits you fall into.
What many people don’t realize, is that relationships, like people, are very much habitual. The habits you set down early on in terms of the balance of power, or the roles each of you take on at particular times.
You shouldn’t therefore do something once early on in your relationship, unless it’s something you’re happy to continually do.
For example, if you pick your partner up from work on the way home once, this is very likely to become a habit. If your partner goes into another room one evening to work rather than watch TV with you, this is very likely to become a habit.
This is all fine as long as they’re things you’re happy with. The problem is breaking patterns and habits that you aren’t happy with.
The answer? Kaizen. Small steps that add up to a big difference.
These habits can be broken just as they can be learned, but you need to start with a small step. For example, you might one night explain that you need to come home a little later, or that you’re very tired, and that you won’t be able to pick your partner up that night.
Wait a week and do the same thing again. Then do two nights in a row. Before long, a new habit can be set.
Another way to apply kaizen to relationships is in a diagnostic sense of continual improvement. In other words, you can look at your current relationship and identify key areas where things could be improved. Then find small ways to do that.
This doesn’t need to mean pointing the finger at someone! It could rather mean deciding you both want to spend more time together, and therefore finding small opportunities to do that.
Likewise, it could mean deciding to do more interesting things, and so maybe making a small change, like banning television just one night of the week.
Better Than Microworkouts: Incidental Exercise
A microworkout is a tiny spell of exercise that lasts just 1-5 minutes. It is often spoken about in conjunction with the term “kaizen.” Kaizen is the Japanese word for “improvement,” which has been co-opted to mean making tiny changes to a process in order to yield huge results. The philosophy is that a small action, when repeated daily, can add up to something profound.
This is the concept of the microworkout. While many people attempt to start 4 hour training programs to no avail, working out for just 5 minutes a day is far more achievable. Will the results be as great? Not to begin with no, but the point is that you’ll use this as a way to form new positive habits that you can then use to introduce hardcore training.
Likewise, you can use microworkouts two, three, or five times a day and that way distribute your training throughout the day. The result is that you exercise a fair amount, but in a far more palatable manner.
Moreover, your metabolism stays raised throughout the day, and you don’t undergo those long, unhealthy periods of uninterrupted inactivity.
But there’s a similar concept that is even more effective. That is to train as a part of your daily routine. In other words, you’re turning your regular activities into microworkouts.
For example, that means you’ll be performing calf raises on a curb while waiting for the bus, doing curls while carrying bags, or even doing tricep dips on the couch while watching television.
This type of training completely solves the issue of time. You don’t have to “fit in” your exercise, because you’re doing it at the same time as something you already would have done.
Better yet, it takes the idea of continually exercising throughout the day even further. This is actually how the human body is evolved to train. We are not intended to go through long periods of complete inactivity.
But can it be as effective? That depends on your approach and your goals. For weight loss, calorie burn is calorie burn no matter how the activity is distributed.
For building and toning muscle, cumulative damage over a short period of time is often needed. That said, there are quick ways to accomplish this (such as with eccentric isometrics) and by understanding these concepts you can work effective training into and around your regular routine.
Kaizen for Fitness – A 10 Minute Full Body Workout With One Dumbbell
Kaizen means making small changes that can add up to big improvements in your life. In fitness, that often means using small workouts that can be just as impactful, but require a whole lot less time and effort. The result? You’re far more likely to do it and to stick to it.
This workout will train your full body and it only takes ten minutes. And you just need a single dumbbell. So if you have a few spare, why not give it a go now?
And it takes just three movements:
Exercise One: One Handed Dumbbell Squats
To start, you’ll be performing 10 squats with a dumbbell hanging in front of you. Keep your arm hanging down the middle between your legs, squat directly downwards and then push up through your legs.
Exercise Two: Dumbbell Swing
Now, while still squatting, you’re going to start swinging the dumbbell directly upwards. This is essentially the same as a kettlebell swing with the obvious difference being that you’re using a dumbbell, not a kettlebell. The movement is excellent for your legs, for your core and for your shoulders and it’s also brilliant cardio.
Exercise Three: Half Burpee
Now you’re going to put your dumbbell down and perform half burpees. This means you start on all fours and then jump forward with your legs close to your hands and then out into press up position. In other words, this is a burpee without the jumping part at the end. This is another great one that involves cardio, that trains the abs and that works the pecs and upper body.
Completing the Workout
To complete this workout, you’re going to perform ten repetitions on each exercise. Once you’ve done that, you’re going to switch immediately to the other side and do another round. Then you’re going to pause for fifteen seconds and go again!
The astute among you may have noticed that this doesn’t target every muscle group. Sure, there’s no bicep curl in there and nothing for your rear deltoids.
However, these are highly compound movements that will have an anabolic effect. Meanwhile, the whole body is working in unison through each of the exercises.
When you combine these factors, you have a workout that involves the whole body to at least some extent and which encourages growth for that reason.
Sometimes you don’t need to target a body part precisely in order to trigger growth Ð you just need to shock the whole system into action.
So don’t rely on this workout and if you only have one dumbbell buy another! Use this as something a bit different though and as a lesson in creating training with low resources. No excuses!
Why the Little Parts of Your Routine Are Most Important for Weight Loss
When people want to lose weight, they will typically focus on a few “big” things. That means their diet for instance, and it means the amount they exercise. Most of us will then conclude we need to exercise a little more, and eat a little less.
Thus, we end up lifting weights or running a few times a week, and eating bland fat-free meals in the evenings.
But very often, this doesn’t result in the kind of results that you want to see. And why is that? It comes down to the fact that you will very often miss out on what actually matters more: the details.
This is the “kaizen” approach, making small changes in order to see huge results.
Why Workouts Often Don’t Work Out
Here’s the problem with going for a run or lifting weights: that is 40 minutes three or four times a week. That’s maybe 160 minutes per week.
There are 10,080 minutes in a week. That is a tiny splash in the ocean!
And if you aren’t seeing the weight loss you want to, then there is a good chance that the other aspects of your life aren’t particularly active. Maybe you sit in an office at work. Maybe you drive to and from that office. And maybe your evenings are spent sitting on the couch watching TV.
Either way, you aren’t really moving much. Meaning you aren’t burning many calories and your metabolism is slow.
Simply adding a little exercise and eating a few less calories isn’t going to result in a body transformation when your lethargy is endemic!
This is where kaizen comes in: the process of focusing on the small details that add up to a LOT. For example, maybe you could start walking to and from the bus a stop further?
That might only be a 6 minute walk but when you do it both ways, five times a week, it becomes 60 minutes of extra activity!
Likewise, you could decide to take the stairs instead of the lift, burning an extra 5 calories each time you do. That might add up to 40 a day, and 200 per week (assuming your lift is in your office and you use it at lunch).
Maybe you decide to take up one physical activity in the week, like a game of ball with the dog. Maybe you choose to get up 5 minutes earlier and stretch.
And it’s these small changes throughout your day and week that add up. And THAT is how you see a body transformation.