We all struggle with getting stuff done. For some things, it’s because that stuff seems insurmountable. One way to solve this is to get a little better each day, which is the Kaizen method.
I learned about the Kaizen method by listening to this podcast episode with Robert Maurer, who wrote a book on it. To no one’s surprise, I have not written a book on it. I’d strongly recommend listening to it yourself.
That being said, quite simply, it’s all about small victories. To build a habit, you need to make it super-easy. I mean, ridiculously easy. They talk about some examples but I’ll throw this personal story out there.
After listening to this podcast a few months ago, I thought about many ways to improve. Last year, I had too many issues with my teeth. Think, root canal. I swore that I needed to take better care of my teeth. There were two things that the dentist suggested.
- Flossing regularly
- Using mouthwash
Using mouthwash wasn’t that big of an issue but flossing? I’ve tried a few times with absolutely no success. So how was I to get myself to floss more regularly? I had to make it much easier to succeed. I had to minimize the friction. Waiting until the end of the night to floss when I’m already half asleep was a non-starter. Having the flossing picks in the bathroom drawer made it worse.
So what if I moved the floss to other areas? I put some flossing picks in my desk, which is also in the same room as the tv. I put some picks on the nightstand next to my bed. While watching tv or trolling friends on Facebook, I could easily grab a pick and scrape away.
Sure enough, I was flossing more than I had ever done in my life. And then something went wrong. My living arrangements got shifted around slightly and I didn’t have picks in those areas anymore. Immediately, I stopped flossing.
This is why Maurer’s comment from the podcast struck me so much as I just re-listened to it.
“The good news is that the brain is a creature of habit. The bad news is that the brain is a creature of habit. Anything you do regularly, the brain starts to commit cells to.”
I experienced both sides of that comment at the snap of a finger. It didn’t take much for me to switch back to not flossing.
The good news is that I just needed to minimize the friction to re-find success. I’ve once again placed picks in easy to access areas and I’m back to flossing more regularly.
Coincidentally, I was with a friend of mine recently and he has a big of picks in his car. Makes sense as long as I don’t find myself sitting on one.