4 Steps for Small Daily Investments [from the archives]
What do you do when one of those little fires pops up? It’s not a big deal, it’s just a small problem. Put the fire out, move on to what’s next. After all, there are many important projects to complete. But of course, before you get to them, another fire pops up. It becomes a vicious cycle and pretty soon, a comfortable habit.
How do you break the habit? The answer is one problem at a time, one investment at a time. Here’s a quote that I believe falls under the category of Mother’s Adage:
“If you don’t have time to do it right, you don’t have time to do it over.”
How do you do this? Start with 4 steps.
Pick a problem to dig a little deeper on. Don’t make it hard or you will defeat the purpose. Pick problems that are frequent so that your investment will pay you back quickly. Or pick a systemic problem, meaning that by improving the system will enable other improvements down the road. Don’t spend an hour analyzing what is the most frequent problem, your own experience from direct observation at the point of activity is sufficient.
Do simple yet structured deep dive problem-solving. It is important that it be structured, otherwise, you have no means of learning and improving your capability. If you can’t learn and improve, then these small investments will not turn into new habits. If you don’t have a method, try the 5 whys as a basic structure. Get to the root cause. Get rid of the symptoms. Solve the problem in a meaningful way with low investment.
Do a short reflection. Reflection doesn’t have to be anything more than asking yourself “what did I just learn from what I just experienced?” This whole process is hardly worth it if we don’t learn and improve as we go. Unless we take a moment to tweak our learning based on our experiences, then we are bound to struggle forever. If you use PDCA already, then use it here. Otherwise, just ask yourself the simple question above.
Improvement doesn’t have to be big investments. It can start with daily actions. If you’re overwhelmed with where to start, then start small and learn. The rest will come with time.
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