Continuous Improvement – The Basics of Lean Manufacturing

The man may work from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done.

-Old Proverb

I’m going to dive head first into this blog post by first explaining the continuous improvement principle. Continuous improvement (also known as Kaizen) is defined as an ongoing and constant effort for process improvements. The basic idea of this is that anything can always be polished or upgraded… Whether it’s the way your cabinet is organized, how you fold your clothes, or your management of time. So literally, a depressing way to look at it is that your work never really is done. That is, at least, if you are going to actively apply lean to your daily life.

“So then why should we apply lean? Isn’t it a colossal waste of time since the job is never really finished?” you might be asking. I’ll answer that question with another question: Why do you make your bed? Isn’t it just a colossal waste of time since you will sleep in it again that night? No, of course it isn’t a waste of time! We make our beds because it’s nice to sleep in a clean place, and our bedroom looks and feels refreshing while we are trying to de-stress from our lives. The same goes for other household chores. We do them because we enjoy a clean house and it’s something we take pride in when our friends come over and compliment our beautiful homes. So then why wouldn’t we apply lean? Although we can never achieve total perfection, we can improve on our daily chores in such a way that will minimize our work and still be just as efficiently finished. And as for time management, we can apply lean to discover what actions we are doing in excess, and eliminate the unnecessary habits in order to gain more time.

Identify

So now let’s talk about how to apply continuous improvement in our lives. First things first, we need to identify a problem. I’ll give an easy example: it is taking too long to get ready every morning. This is something a lot of people struggle with, the end result being you arrive late to work. Nobody wants that, especially your boss or clients. Therefore, you’ll need to identify what is making you late. Sit down and actually take a few moments to think about it, and even write some things down if you must. What are you doing every morning that is taking so long? Is it too hard to wake up because you are tired and sluggish while getting ready? Or maybe it’s because your prefer to shower in the morning, get dressed, do your makeup and hair, and by the time you are finished, you are already five minutes behind schedule.

Plan

Once you identify the problem and reason for the problem, the second step is to plan. What can you do to change your morning routines so that they better coincide with your work schedule? Perhaps it’s as simple as taking fifteen minutes for yourself to drink a cup of coffee and get yourself moving. Or maybe it’s something more difficult like cutting out one of your beauty routines or doing them the night before, or, God forbid, waking up ten minutes earlier.

Execute

The next step is to execute your new plans. Once you begin to implement these changes, you must stick to them in order to have success with your new routine. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. It takes about 21 days to form a new habit, and possibly longer depending how difficult the habit is for you. However, if this new habit is something you know will help you, then without question it is definitely worth performing.

Review

After about a month of executing your newly formed morning habits, it is very important to review the good they have done you. Have you started getting to work on time or even early? If not, what can you change, altar, or remove to improve your routine? Once you discover that, it is time to go back to the first step and start again!

Of course, these steps can be applied to more things than just simple morning routines. Identify a problem you’re having and work through it by planning, executing, and reviewing. Any problem you have can be improved.

The moral of this blog post is that anything in your life can be fixed for the better. You have a lot of power to change the things you don’t like about the way you live. Even if something seems like you have no control over it, there will be a small portion of it that you can change and control. All you have to do is identify, plan, execute, and review. Once you begin performing these steps for all of your problems, you will find your life to be more orderly and far less stressful than it ever has before!

 

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “Continuous Improvement – The Basics of Lean Manufacturing

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  1. Along those lines, I’ll occasionally notice that I can never remember where I keep something. So I dutifully move it to a new location that makes more sense. Only trouble is, then I only remember where it was, not the new more logical place I put it…

    And people wonder why I keep lists of where everything is. I just look it up instead of bothering with memory. 🙂

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