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Continuous Process Improvement in Lifestyle

Published: May 29th, 2019 12:30 pmBy tulika pandit

Here I am, addressing two scores of very creative, empowered, enthusiastic and energetic bunch of women from an Organization at Bangalore. The Occasion – International Women’s Day.

I chose to speak on Work Life Balance, because it seemed quite an easier topic to speak on and also it deals with our everyday. But, when I started to prep myself, its then that I noticed, this topic is a cumulation of all the things that we do, as a professional / nonprofessional, as individuals and as teams. A lot of myths were broken and this is when I thought of using something that involves continuous improvement.

Through this write – up, I am going to discuss Work Life Balance, myths about Work Life Balance (WLB) and also how can we implement KAIZEN and Six Sigma for a better lifestyle.

Let me begin with addressing some of the myths.

WLB Myth No 1: Attaining Balance is the Goal. WLB is all about being a super human who can constantly balance every life event and people.

Good News Friends!! Balance in work life balance is not about us being awesome in balancing, its mostly about getting maximum integration between various elements in our lives. Our lives are not blocks where its jumping from one to another, everything in our lives in interconnected, therefore balancing the integration is WLB.

WLB Myth No 2: The More Hours one work results in more value.

Now I do not understand from where have we got this myth. We are so wonderful in fooling ourselves that when we are putting in long hours in our work, we feel it is a reflection of our productivity, reflection of our visibility, reflection of the value created by us. This is absurd. If you are also a believer of this myth, please come out. The human brain like any other machine needs its rest time, and when we are unable to give the rest, the productivity comes down, spill overs are more and re work often happens. Understanding of the optimum is a must. Going beyond that, stretching oneself results in more turbulence in our life than value creation.

WLB Myth No 3: Work and life are two different things

I have friends who have repeated this for umpteen time. I have never quite understood this. For one very simple reason, for me work is a part of life. No Life No Work. The work needs to given a significant importance but its after all just a part. Technology, is contributing lot in bridging this difference. I can watch a movie and still check my client’s email and respond. The only understanding here is till what level?. If I understand that, the WLB that I am seeking, comes to me.

WLB Myth No 4: Everyone is in support of WLB.

Yes, people think and talk a lot about WLB, but as Drew Hendrick from ButterCup puts is “ You will still find that people do not support the idea or have their own impression of what you WLB should be in their minds ( and it’s usually not balanced).”  Try negotiating time for yourself and do not always give into their impression of it.

WLB Myth No 5: Great Employee and Managers are available 24/7

Its good that we understand ourselves and our optimum. Working in periods where we are available and then taking ourselves off the grid, removing all distractions results in u being super productive. Providing clear expectations about when you are and aren’t available avoids confrontation around major population.

WLB Myth No.6: Time Management is the ultimate key to WLB

The to-do list is good but its not the only thing. A long unfinished list of chores and task will make us more unproductive because we start to doubt our capabilities, when we have a never-ending list in our hands. It is better, if we use technology and most importantly if we clearly understand the art of prioritization. We cannot do everything, but we always find what is really important and manage our energy and attention throughout to maximize the output.

And there are many more….

Work Life Balance (WLB), is an understanding of integrating workplace obligations, societal responsibilities, domestic matters and work around it in an effective manner.

While I was pondering over this, I felt a strong urge of using KAIZEN in my lifestyle. Yes, the term used majorly in manufacturing companies, this is what I would like to incorporate in everyday life.

KAIZEN - which means a Good Change. I want a Good Change in my Lifestyle, so does all of you. Let us see how will this Good Change come.

 KAIZEN for our Lifestyle, a better WLB.

The three pillars of KAIZEN are:

Identifying the wastage (MUDA)

 Identifying the Imbalance (MURA)

Identifying the Overperformance (MURI)

 Identifying the Wastage.

The best way of doing this is by introspection and observation. Introspection of oneself and understanding the areas, chores, tasks where one puts in the energy and yet the results are either nil or minimal. The seven types of wastes:

1.     Defects: It is essential to define the areas of improvement, the lacuna that we have and how they are disturbing our balance. This is also reflecting our behavioral patterns, our thought processes, our level of expertise. It is also essential to identify people in our lives, the ones who have never contributed in our growth on the contrary they demean us, are toxic for our system. Their presence itself is a task that we don enjoy. It is important to remove or avoid such people.

.     Inventory: When I started thinking of inventory in our life, I could think about people, relations, tasks, work, aspirations as the major inventory. It is now essential to make a proper inventory and see the goods and not so goods.

 3.     Waiting: Oh! we just love to wait. wait for the opportune moment before taking a decision, wait for our conveyance to arrive, wait for the HR to come and provide us the self-appraisal form, wait for someone to identify our talent, wait for someone to provide us with an opportunity to prove our mettle. We Just Wait and in this waiting, we waste a significant amount of time as well as resources. Waiting for someone else to understand and help in work life balance will seldom happen...therefore take charge of your life and reduce and slowly eliminate this waiting time. 

 4.     Talent: Now this is something we all have, sometimes we do not know it and sometimes we are too shy to let others know about it. Honing of the talent is one of the requisites for a successful life. Take feedback and understand what one is good in and how can this talent be turned into a strength. Most of the time we do not value what talent we have and we just waste it till one day we regret. Talent should not be wasted, rather it should be identified and nourished. Understanding our talents and using them for building a successful life is essential need of the hour.

 5.     Motion: While thinking of identifying motion wastage in our lives, i pondered and then had my eureka moment. well the motion here is the chaos that happens in every household, looking for keys, the clothes lying somewhere, accessories somewhere else, mobile phone in the pocket but can’t locate the mobile charger, the earphones, the wallet, imp files. Etc. The common story of every household. I tried testing this by switching on my stop watch from the time i got up in the morning. Day 1, it took me 125 mins to get ready for work. had a chaotic circus in these 125 mins. in the eve, i decided to organize myself. organize every single thing that i would need for the next day. kept them in close vicinity. next morning was wonderful. it took me 80 mins to be ready. saved 45 mins. i got time to relax and enjoy the wonderful cup of filter coffee. 

Organizing self, minimizing the rush at home and at workplace, seeing that the all required things are near us would help in eliminating motion wastage.it is essential that for a great work life balance we identify the above wastage and try to eliminate them.


Identifying Imbalances

No one is perfect and we all have our own imbalances. These imbalances are the also the reason for our multiple

 a. Imbalance in relationships: We get most stressed when our relationships are in bad shape. The understanding and the compatibility are slowly diminishing. It also happens when we pay our attention to a specific relation and ignore others. This imbalance can happen in our professional life and our personal life. Not having a good working relationship with our colleagues, our managers, our subordinates...even our clients, results in imbalance.

bImbalance in performance: Performance is related to how are we accomplishing certain tasks. it is also directly proportional to our KPIs. the focus should be on achieving the KPIs in the right time and in the right way. Over doing or even over focusing on a certain task, will never leave time for completing the other ones with the same effectiveness. This results in imbalance.

cImbalance in Health & Eating Habits: I read in one of the posters in my college canteen which said

Well, we made a lot of fun back then, but, today it makes so much more sense. If we do not have a meal plan, then there is definitely an imbalance. We shall be more into random eating, untimely eating which results in poor immunity, obesity, fatigue tiredness. It somewhere impacts negatively on our performance. Its important that we plan what we eat.

d. Imbalance in Finances: Warren Buffet in one of his talks said that the best financial planning is when we take out 20% of our income first and save it, and then plan our other expenditures in the remaining 80%. He has emphasized on the asking oneself Why? Before any of the Impulse buying, unplanned expenditure by using credit cards, not planning the finances objectively or else this will all lead to financial troubles. These financial troubles result in constant stress, despair for many of us. People take extreme steps because of this one Imbalance. It is indeed essential that we plan or finances, consult, take opinions from financial whizzes. Budgeting, investments, maintaining an Investment Portfolio, various insurances especially medical, life and pension helps out in balancing the financial turmoil.

e .Imbalance in Lifestyle: needless to say, the kind of lifestyle we are all leading is definitely not balanced. We seldom make a schedule for ourselves. There is no specific time for anything; personally, or professionally. Our lifestyle has become strenuous and this imbalance in our life gives us lifestyle diseases like diabetes, blood-pressure etc. There is nothing wrong in having a perfectly balanced life. And I would suggest the 5S model to used and practiced.

a.     Sort – Differentiate with Do’s and Don’ts of your lifestyle, which includes right people, right rest, right eating habits, right hobbies. Remove anything that is a waste and is only creating hassles.

b.     Set in Order – Now when you have sorted out, organize these. When and how would the specific work be done. Keep some buffer but follow the schedule religiously.

c.      Shine – Shine here refers to visibility. Write down your schedule, meal plans etc and post them at a place where you can see them. The more you see them the more you will follow.

d.     Standardize- Make things as standard, as in the diet plan, the exercise plan, the rest time, spending time with family and friends. These standards when followed diligently becomes habits.

e.     Sustain – This one is the most difficult steps out of the five. This is when we ensure that we are following all the four steps of the 5S model. Challenge self and see to it that there would be no misses.

These 5 Steps help us in managing the imbalance of the lifestyle, be it health, food, finance, relationships or performance.

Identifying Over – performance

Over performance could be because of the following reasons.

a.     Inability in saying ‘NO’:  It is very difficult for us to say No. We all have a discomfort in saying No, we have this hitch, this notion of what will the other one think about us we say NO, hence, we end up saying Yes to things that we do not agree upon, things we do not know how to complete and also the things we can not understand at all. All because if do not want to offend or hurt others. But, this creates more unnecessary work for us. This additional task or responsibility or even a demand by someone which we think is not correct, gives us stress, gives us more issues in improving our performance. Saying NO is necessary for a great work life balance.

b.     Over thinking – Over thinking is a special form of fear. This fear is a result of anticipation, imaginations, older memories, and emotions working together.  Usually overthinking ruins a situation by twisting it , which makes one worry and eventually makes everything worse than it actually is. Over thinking blocks our objectivity and we land up feeling depressed. Thinking is good, overthinking is not.

c.      Over Involvement – Too much of everything is bad. If over thinking is not good, over involvement is worst. Minding self work, self business is a better approach if we want to have a life that is wonderfully balanced. It is important to know that one must not concern over things that does not concern one, if it is not one’s business and one should not make it one’s burden. Get involve, but also know how much and when to come out. Over involvement is like a vicious circle. If do not know the exit path , then we are stuck.

The Principles of lean six sigma can be our rescue plan when stuck with over performance. The DMAIC model is the perfect model to understand the exit from over performance issues.

Define : Define the over performance in your words. This will give more clarity of thoughts when it comes to over performance. Understanding what is and what is not over performance.

Measure: It is important that a measurement should be made for every change that we are bringing in our lifestyle. Simple Weekly Measurement will help in understanding whether or not there has been a progress or not. E.g I reacted 10 times in the previous week, I shall make an effort to think before react, and check by the end of this week. This measurement helps me into understanding if I am changing or not.

Analyse: This is required for studying the sources and patterns that trigger overperformance in oneself. Analysis of these gives an insight and helps in working on problem areas.

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