How The Japanese Concept Of Kaizen Can Help You Stop Procrastinating

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Procrastination is a well-known issue that stops many people from reaching their full potential. According to some statistics, about 20 percent of the total population procrastinates to some extent, and that number is 4 times larger than it was 30 years ago. However, a philosophy originating in Japan called Kaizen may be just the thing you need to overcome the tendency to put things off and help you get things done.

What is Kaizen?

In Japanese, Kaizen means "change for better". Though it doesn't specifically translate as such, it is often associated with the philosophy of continuous improvement through incremental steps. The concept originated in the 1950s as part of a collaborative program between America and Japan to help improve the Japanese economy and has been partially responsible for the country's success in manufacturing and similar industries.

With Kaizen, the goal is to optimize a process or system by consistently making small improvements to it. Over time, these small improvements add up and result in a highly effective system that helps the person or company produce more and/or at a higher quality.

Using Kaizen to Overcome Procrastination

There are many theories as to why people procrastinate, but one that frequently comes up is individuals may be overwhelmed by the projects at hand. The procrastinator looks at the goal and sees a big venture that needs to be completed (often) in a short period of time and may feel like it's just too much. To alleviate the anxiety, the person may do other things (checking email, playing on social media) while working up the courage to get started.

Using the philosophy of Kaizen, you can overcome this feeling of overwhelm by breaking down the goal into its tiniest parts and then focusing only on completing each small task until the entire project is finished.

For instance, say you have to write a technical manual for your company. You could start by dividing the goal into smaller parts such as:

  • Research
  • Writing
  • Editing

Then you would look at each section and break down that task into even smaller parts. For instance, under writing you could have:

  • Outline book
  • Write first draft
  • Check facts

The "write first draft" task could be broken down even further to weekly, daily, and even hourly word count goals.

The idea is to reduce the larger goal into more manageable parts that aren't so intimidating. Writing a 50,000-word technical manual may seem like too much, but writing 500 words per day for 100 days is doable.

This technique can be used to achieve almost any goal, and all it takes is a willingness to think small. Try it today to increase your personal effectiveness and overcome procrastination to achieve new heights in your life and career. For further assistance, contact motivational professionals, such as those from Sources of Insight.

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20 May 2015

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