Kaizen planning

Planning is a very important part of an entrepreneur’s life.

One hour of planning can equal ten days of work. Old Japanese proverb, which speaks for itself. It is better to dedicate a day to planning, than work without planning at all. In addition, the Japanese believed that high-quality planning is equal to at least ten days of just work, without planning. Who wouldn’t want that? Let’s look at the Japanese planning method closer

They consider it an honor to bring the matter to perfection. It’s called kaizen.

But if you would like to learn more about kaizen, you need to find your Ikigai first

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being”, and basically it is what makes you wake up in the morning.

The Japanese have also another great concept, which we use in this article – Shokunin. Shokunin means a master of the craft, or rather the supreme master of his craft.

You can imagine a janitor, who wants to be the best janitor in the world. He doesn’t want to become the head of the janitors’ department, the head of the janitors’ branch, the head of the janitors’ company. He wants to be the best janitor in the world. If it’s a singer, he wants to be the best singer in the world. That is, each in their job. But to become a Shokunin, you must find your Ikigai.

There are three concepts:

  • Ikigai
  • Shokunin
  • Satory

But first, you have to find your Ikigai. Then, in the process of finding your Ikigai, you become Shokunin. And when you are accomplishing the work, you are achieving the point of Satory, which means, that you plunge into a flow where you feel happy and achieve bliss.

Ikigai consists of four circles.

The first circle is called “love to do”. I love doing it.

This is a very important part, and it correlates to planning. If you want to have a happy life, you must plan the right things. If you don’t know what you are living for at all, you will plan the wrong things. And the worst thing in life is doing effectively what you don’t need to do. And to determine what then needs to be done, it is necessary to answer the question of Ikigai:

What do you like to do? Take a piece of paper and write it down.

Next question is what I can do? Or what I’m good at?

Next: what I get paid for?

And the last: what people/world need? 

After you answer all these questions, when these four circles intersect, you get your Ikigai.

Kaizen planning

Success is not determined by knowledge or by education, but by action. And to act correctly, you need planning. There is an abyss and a bridge over it, which is called the action. No action – no success. No matter how smart you are.

Success is possible only when you choose a direction, and you act without any doubts. To be effective, you need clarity of goals. And to clarify your goals, you need to visualize them. This is a very, very powerful rule: efficiency requires clarity of goals, and clarity of goals requires visualization. Choose the right goal, and then discard all that is unnecessary.

People’s work cannot be viewed as a glass of water. Many work through the To-Do planning system, where they list what they have to do. Sometimes you find yourself in a situation where you are stuck: “oh, I can’t do it, it’s too much!”. Many people perceive this as a glass of water that is full.

But in what way does Kaizen planning differ from this concept? Human work should not be viewed as a glass of water.

It’s more like a pipe. And if you have a huge to-do list, and you are running out of time, then your pipe is clogged. Your bandwidth is very low and there is no flow. Or you have problems with your filters, and can’t determine what is important and what is not. 

It doesn’t matter how many things you have planned, it doesn’t matter how many things you are looking into. The number of tasks per day that you accomplish, divide it by one working day, that would be your bandwidth. 

Three things per day or five things per day. Absolutely no one in this world cares how many things you were doing. People only care about how many things you have accomplished. 

This is the difference between kaizen planning and a conventional to-do list system:

  • The To-do list focuses on what to do, while the kaizen planning system focuses on what needs to be done.
  • You do not need to “work” in the exact meaning of the word. You need to create a result.
  • The to-do list is static, while Kaizen planning is dynamic.
  • The to-do list is oppressing, while Kaizen planning motivates and inspires

The to-do list doesn’t show the problem, while Kaizen planning reveals the problem. The problem in your behaviour, the problem in your goals, your planning.

In other words, the planning system itself helps you to identify your problems and solve them.

Kaizen is a process of uninterrupted, continuous improvement. The basic principle of Kaizen planning is flow creation.

Imagine the liquid in a pipe: it does not flow intermittently. It flows evenly. It is necessary to arrange things in such a way, that they flow like a liquid in a pipe: evenly, nicely, constantly, without breaks. The problem with the majority of planning systems is, that they are too detailed when you have to plan up to an hour, to a minute. Then something unexpected or urgent emerges, and your planned system collapses. The more detailed the planning system is, the more rigid and less flexible it is, and the more likely you quit it. Therefore, one or two such failures when you need to postpone things to the next days – and the whole planning is crushing.

Therefore, the flexibility of the system is very important.

The main technique of Kaizen is building a flow, of value creation.

If you have no idea where to start effective planning, then these simple tips from Kaizen will be useful to you.

1. Unloading

Kaizen planning starts with unloading. Unloading is a process, when you put all your tasks, projects, even fears, worries, experiences, dreams and desires out of your head on paper. 

So, what do you do now? You take these notes and just put them in any order. Do this until your head is completely empty. All your desires, all your dreams, all your goals, all you need to do … 

The main goal is to unload what is in your head. This is the number one task. In fact, the rule of the Kaizen planning system is that each thought should be given one card. Give one card for each thought. And the second part of the rule is to place each card in its place. The fact is, that when you start trying to formulate your idea on paper, in 50% of cases the solution to a particular problem comes to you. Next: reduce the size of the task. The tasks must be measurable. The moment when the task ends should be very clear.

2. Analysis

You should definitely analyze what you have been doing up to this day. A question to help you analyze: “Did I do what I wanted or did I do what I have to?” Second step: you must now sort these pieces of paper into Want and Must. To understand in general whether you live your own life or you are a puppet in the hands of others.

3. Filtration

In Kaizen planning, filters are installed in the way, so that unnecessary, unimportant tasks won’t fall into your daily routine. It is through this filter that you need to define the Mission. That is to find an answer to the question of “who I am and why I live?”. This is the most important question of any person, and without answering it, you will never build an effective planning system. If you do not define your Mission, you will always do what you must do… Because if you do not have your “Want”, you will always fulfil someone else’s “Want”. 

There is the filter: After we looked through all these thoughts, we get rid of the unnecessary. 

What else determines a person’s engagement? Imagine a pipe filled with liquid. If it does not cope, why can’t it cope? First, because there are too many things to do from this side, but this is not the problem. Second, because this pipe does not have an additional bypass pipe. The bypass pipe is called delegation. You can make part of your work, your “Want”, you can make it someone else’s “Must”. You can ask someone to do it or pass it over to a subordinate. This bypass pipe helps you achieve your goals.

The third thing is your limits.

Do you remember, as we said, things have to flow like a liquid in a pipe? The third thing, that limits your performance is when the filter is missing, or it is clogged. So, thanks to these filters, we throw these things out of the to-do list. This filter acts as a waste filter. But rubbish just can’t be thrown away. It must be analyzed in order not to make the same mistake twice in the future.

4. Tags

With tags, you will clearly know where you are spending your time and your resources. Then there are five directions: personal development, family, business, social affairs and hobbies. You can see what you are being drawn to, what you want to achieve most of all, or what you are attracted to: is it personal development or the family?

Let’s now look at the Personal Development section. There, you can put books, learning foreign languages, or dancing. And this is where the Kanban method comes into play. What is Kanban? Kanban translates from Japanese as a card. So you have your 5 columns (directions), then you take all your cards  and distribute them in these five columns. 

5. Building tasks

It is important to be able to build the flow of tasks in time. This is the cornerstone of Kaizen. You have 5 directions of your tasks, but you can also make columns for each month or year. With each month you can see how many things you have completed. With every day, every month, every year, you physically feel how your dreams turn into your reality. For example, your boss is sick and will return to work in one month, and the only thing you have to do is to transfer the related card to March. You are not losing it. That’s it. Next. Again, something changes, a new piece of information has arrived. Don’t keep it in your head, just put it in its place. You don’t have to go through this filter again. You know right away: is this making me happier? Yes, it is. If it is making me happier, what is this? Is this related to my personality, or my family, or my hobby, or my business? Is it realistic for this year? If so, you are writing it on a piece of paper and putting it right in the “Need to do” column. So, when the new task arrives, you immediately put it through the sieve in your head.

A month is an ideal period. A month has passed, you go through the list of things done, analyze it and the next morning already you can correct your behaviour.

The most interesting thing about Kaizen is that whenever you have accomplished something, you are not going back to that.

Whenever you implement something, you are not returning to that, but you come to a new level of Kaizen to improve things

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