Whatever your occupation, you can transform it into an art, when you love it enough. There can also be art in productivity because when you perfect your habits for efficiency, you produce harmony. It can be a notable achievement to strike that sweet chord of work-life balance and it sometimes takes a few years of hard work to do it. But the important thing to remember is that it is possible, one little step at a time.
By now you must have heard of Mark Twain’s famous words urging to “eat a live frog first thing in the morning.” If you do this, according to him, “nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” And he does have a point.
This is an essential mantra frequently shared by Thanh Pham, founder of Asian Efficiency, and it is indeed a wise habit to develop.
The frog varies for each one of us. It is the most important task that you are supposed to accomplish today. You know, that particular job that you are probably trying to shuffle to the back of your mind right now while you are trying to distract yourself with other things. Remember, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Mark Twain is right. If you overcome the most intimidating things in your life first, everything that comes after those will be a breeze.
If you have ever been to Japan, this is an observation that you might have made: the little things matter to them. Whether it’s their work ethic, the quality of service you get, or indeed the quality of goods they produce, you’ll see that the Japanese really care about the tiny details, so much that it is almost an art form in itself.
Kaizen is the Japanese principle of constant improvement. Imagine the daily processes that you have to go through every day for work, and then imagine that every day you are looking for at least one tiny part of that process you can improve so that you can apply it the next day. Lather, rinse, repeat. This is a compound effect in action. This is why even the smallest details matter in Japanese culture because improving little by little can create drastic change and significant returns in the long term.
The KonMari technique took the Western world by storm a few years back because this quite simple concept really does have a life-changing effect. Getting rid of clutter seems like basic sense but it can easily be taken for granted every day. When it comes to productivity, tidying up doesn’t just apply to the removal of physical debris on your work table or in your file folders. It can also apply to mental stress, trauma, and worry.
Just as freeing up space in your house can be quite the workout to give you that dose of happy hormones, freeing your mind can also get you that needed boost for efficiency. You’ll be able to focus easier, see clearer, and accomplish more in less time.
Don’t underestimate the importance of improving yourself little by little. Once we eat that frog and get that sense of freedom, it can be just the liberation we need to be able to do the things we want.