Good resolutions: the best self-improvement project

Mid-December, end of the year rush, both at the office and at home. The pressure of psychological deadlines is intense at this time: everyone wants to deliver by the end of the week, month, quarter, year, and in December, everything arrives on the same day! Then in January, after having celebrated, it will be the time of good resolutions: to start working out again, to take time for your family…

We know that it is difficult to keep good resolutions. So, today, I propose to apply some operational excellence concepts to your personal life, to yourself, and your processes.

We know it’s important, and we know it works, because we apply it every day: mobilized teams are more productive teams with a better health. Since you are taking time to improve the work of others, it is now time to think about yourself.

Beginner’s level: 5S my kitchen or my closet

You know the 5 S’s by heart (if not, it’s here). They are simple to apply on material. The holiday season is a good time to review an area, such as the kitchen or closet. In 5 steps, with the help of your family team, you can sort, make room and be more efficient very quickly.

  • Do you really need to keep the Kouglof mold that your grandmother gave you 15 years ago, even though you don’t like raisins?
  • And these pants which will perhaps fit you one day, when the flowers will be again in fashion…

As a team, determine which items you use most often, place them at the front. If some of your kitchen equipment or utensils are in poor condition, you can repair or replace them. It would be a shame not to be able to cook one of your favorite dishes because your egg beater is no longer working. Worse, imagine if you hurt yourself while using it.

Advanced level: do the 5S on my phone or in my spare time

On concepts such as time, the 5S are more complex to apply, but demonstrate all their power.

The principle is the same. You choose an area of your life, such as your leisure time, cell phone use or your email box. Then you make an inventory of everything in it. For a physical 5S, the inventory is obvious, for intangible things, it is necessary to document and list.

  • How much leisure time do you have each week, and what do you use it for?
  • How many newsletters do you receive, how many do you read?
  • How many contacts do you have on Facebook, how many news feeds do you follow?

From this list, you start the sorting step. 5W’s can help you determine what is most important. But again, it is your vision and your personal values that will guide you. Does this activity, this newsletter, this news feed contribute to your happiness? If you want to be the best cook, prioritize cooking channels over cat channels on Instagram. If you’ve decided to fix everything, the Repair Cafe Facebook group is more relevant than the “Let’s add a I don’t care button” one.

The elimination step is crucial to save time, always with the principle “do I really need it…” here are examples of questions to ask yourself:

  • If I had to live on a desert island, what would I take with me?
  • If I had 3 months to live, what would I do with my time?

The first and last steps are the most difficult. The other three (tidy, clean and standardize) are fairly intuitive. To make sure you maintain, you can create rules. The simplest one is the replacement one: no addition without removal. One new item of clothing going into the closet = one going out. A new feed subscription or group membership = a cancellation. Subscribing to a new newsletter = unsubscribing from another one. This way, you keep control over the volume and number of activities.

Back to basics: who is my client?

Operational excellence creates value for the customer, but when you work for yourself, who is the customer? The supplier? My body, my brain? How can I improve my body’s performance?

It is the brain that decides what we eat. We all know that good eating habits improve our health. But do we really listen to our body when it “tells us” that it is no longer hungry, that we have eaten too much sugar? How can we get back to listening to this customer and improve his working conditions, and therefore those of the supplier, the brain? Standards, such as set meal times, can help, but the most important thing is to listen to the Voice of the Customer. With the Quantified Self trend, many smartphone apps can help you document, measure and analyze your lifestyle habits.

Then, all the lean tools can be used to find the root causes, QOQCP, Pareto, cause-effect diagram, or simply this 5 Why :

  • Why do I fall asleep after dinner? I ate too much, I didn’t take my coffee.
  • Why didn’t I take my coffee? I limit myself to three a day so I don’t get a stomachache.
  • Why would I want more than three coffees a day? I am sleep deprived.
  • Why do I lack sleep? I have too many things to do.
  • Why do I have too much to do? I haven’t done the 5S in my spare time for a few years….

Like any lean project, there is a lot of work to be done, and it is possible to start in different ways… a 5S to convince yourself, a diagnosis of the situation, mapping of one of your processes, of your complete value chain… How do you start your year?

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