John Stuart Mill suggested that people engage in “experiments in living”. So, every month in 2020 I’m going to do a new, experiment with my life. For instance, I might dress for dinner every day for a month, or not go out to eat for a month. The point of these experiments are:
Fun - a highly underrated part of life and reason to do something.
Pushing comfort zones - remind myself that the narrow confines in which I live my life are not the only ways to live.
Productivity - how much more productive would I be if I did X every day?
Ultimately, I’m trying to see what I learn from doing something just a little bit different every month.
To start with, in January I’m going to do a Kaizen Month - where I do a Kaizen activity every day for a month.
Kaizen is a Japanese word meaning “improvement” but, in manufacturing, it’s a philosophy of small, continuous improvements as opposed to large, one time, earth-conquering improvements. The Art of Manliness has a nice post on it here. It’s often phrased as “getting one-percent better every day”.
For the purposes of my experiment a Kaizen activity will be one that:
Makes an actual, sustained improvement to the running of my life - The activity must either saving me time, money, or increase my general enjoyment of life permanently (or near permanently). For instance, completing a regular chore like vacuuming would not be a Kaizen activity because I’ll just have to do it again next week. But setting up an iRobot so I don’t have to vacuum (or have to vacuum a lot less) would be a Kaizen activity.
Can be completed in one day - This ensures that I’m doing activities that are small one-percent changes instead of large, earth-conquering changes. For instance, I couldn’t set up a whole smart home in a day, but I could set up a smart bulb in the bathroom that emits blue light in the morning to wake me up faster.
Delivers value when completed - You could learn Chinese by learning a word or two every day. But you wouldn’t really be getting value out of speaking Chinese until, well, you could speak Chinese. Note this also means activities like research how to set up a smart home wouldn’t count either because the research itself does not deliver value. Only the implementation of the smart home delivers value. However, researching and practicing the best flossing technique would count as a complete Kaizen activity because after a few minutes of practice I could easily use that technique forever. See *definition of don*e in Agile software development.
I’m also going to impose the additional rules on myself:
No more than five activities can belong to the same category/theme. Since I’m only doing this for a month I can’t just do 30 smart home improvements and call it a success.
No more than 10 can be computer related.
No more than 10 can require a purchase.
I use Clubhouse as my Kanban board (the Japanese have thought a lot about management practices) and project/life manager. So I’ve created a Clubhouse Project for Kaizen activities and will use that to track my progress like so: By the way, Clubhouse is targeted to software-developers but I can’t recommend it enough as a general project management tool. My wife and I both use it in our personal lives to manage pretty everything actually.
For all of my experiments, I’ll keep a daily journal on this blog. I’ll send those updates to social media and my newsletter weekly.
Hopefully, at the end of the year, I’ll be able to report how much I learned and have some new ideas for my life better every day.