Click above to listen to the podcast and read the blog post below for extra support. (And don’t forget to download the free resource—this one is your roadmap for uncluttering your life this year.)
If you are “spatially impaired” like I (Betsy) am, then I’m about to rock your world.
(A good example of being spatially impaired is never knowing what size of bowl the leftovers will fit in or how many tasks you can accomplish in a given time period.)
If you’re not spatially impaired, then this method is going to make perfect sense and you’ll kick yourself that you haven’t thought of it before.
Either way: Mind Blown. Life Changed.
Visualizing Your Life
In the last episode, we showed you how to review the previous year and create a diamond image showing where your life is NOT maxing out in happiness.
Your diamond may be smaller than you’d like. Your diamond may be a little blobby. If things are really out of whack, it might be a tiny little dot in the center. It doesn’t matter. No judgement. No guilt.
What matters is that you have a starting point, and that’s where today’s lesson starts.
Small and Frequent Beats Big and Occasional
Kaizen is the Japanese system of continuous incremental improvement. The goals are smaller, the attention more focused, and the timeline shorter. The result is an ongoing improvement over time that provides better results than occasional big initiatives. Corporations all over the world use this system to improve processes and make more money because it works.
And now, you get to use it, too.
The way to implement Kaizen into your life is through a series of 2-weeks “sprints.” This is a concept we learned from our business coach, Todd Herman. You spend 2 weeks focused on one tactic that helps you reach your overall goal. For the purposes of An Uncluttered Life, this 2-week sprint will be about removing something that is NOT working in your life so you have more of what does.
How to Schedule a 2-Week Sprint
If you’ve looked at your annual review and determined that you’re unhappy with the lack of progress on a project (like a book, starting a side business, or exercising), you may decide that watching television for 4 hours every night is a big reason you don’t have time to work on those goals.
You’ll create a 2-week sprint where you don’t watch any television. Instead, you’ll work on your project. In those 2 weeks, you’ll make dramatic progress in this area of your life.
- You’ll finally get to work on what you value most. This focused time will help you get more excited and motivated to continue, or it will give you a deep awareness that maybe you didn’t want this thing so much after all. Either way, your life is uncluttered.
- You regain control over a vice. Let’s face it: we’re always going to enjoy things that are not necessarily good for us. But enjoying and being enslaved are 2 different things. You’ll get back in the driver’s seat.
- Without any other distractions, you’ll make dramatic progress on your goal. This is the opposite of trying to live 5 different new year’s resolutions at once, which is a sure path to overwhelm. This is just one small experiment at a time and time-boxed at just 2 weeks.
A Calendar of Magic
Technically it isn’t magic—it’s just a Google calendar or even a plain old paper calendar. But what it will do for you in the new year is magic.
Those 2-week sprints we just told you about? You’re going to come up with 26 of them to address all the areas of your life that need uncluttering. You have the list you need from the annual review last week, and it won’t be a stretch to come up with one or more experiments for each area of overwhelm or dissatisfaction in your life.
Every other Sunday, you’ll document which 2-week sprint you’ll focus on. That’s 26 different experiments throughout the year, and you don’t have to stress or worry about any of them until that Sunday rolls around.
No willpower. No long list of ideals to live up to starting January 1. No need to be a drastically different person tomorrow than you are today.
Remember, this is Kaizen, a series of small improvements that will add up to a big change in your life.
Imagine this time next year, when you’ve gone through 26 low-key, high-impact experiments in decluttering your life. Can you imagine how big and shiny your diamond graph will be then?
This system doesn’t work if you don’t make the plan today. You can always swap out your experiments if want, but not planning them out right now means you’ll likely not make it through January before you quit. It’s too much pressure to re-do your annual review and come up with a plan every 2 weeks.
Get the resource guide for this episode in the Resource Roundup—a collection of our best guides to help you gain more time, space, energy, and money asap!
So go ahead and spend a couple of hours plotting out your list of experiments and inserting them into your calendar now. Then you can get back to the eggnog and know that your yearly plans are already set.
Don’t forget to download our free guide (in the blue button above) to make your planning easier!
- If it isn’t in your calendar, it won’t happen.
- Kaizen is the principle of steady, continuous progress. It yields much greater (and long-lasting) results than occasional big steps.
- 2-week sprints are your key to making steady progress all year.
- You have 26 opportunities to unclutter your life this year. The pressure is off on carrying a few big goals throughout the year. You only have to focus on 2 weeks at a time—and you get plenty of variety!
On the next episode, you’ll learn how to SWOT yourself, and we don’t mean getting a whooping. (or, “whuppin'” if you’re grew up like we did) 🙂 Join us for this 360-degree self-analysis next time.
Resources Mentioned in This Episode
- The principle of Kaizen
- How to set up goals in a Google calendar (true story: I googled resources for how to do this and the one I found was written by me several years ago. I forgot I wrote it. How weird is that?)
- Check out our Podcast Support Team options here. We’d love to have you on the team! (Joel joined this week – hi, Joel!) 🙂