An Easier Way to Get Up an Hour Earlier

This week is all about simplifying your writing business and your life so you can enter 2013 ready to achieve your goals.

One of the best ways to do this is with the principle of Kaizen. It’s a Japanese term that basically means "continuous improvement" or getting just a little better every day.

I first heard about it from online marketing expert Perry Marshall. But lately, it's been popping up everywhere.

As a writer and freelance business owner, Kaizen can be a great way to work on your goals in bite-sized chunks.

Let's use Kaizen in a few real examples so you can see the power of this principle.

Goal: Launching an amazing freelance writer website.

Problem: You needed your website up yesterday and just can't find a huge chunk of time to work on it.

Kaizen Solution: Don't try to build your site overnight. Instead, get the simplest thing you can online. It might just be one very plain page with some contact information.

That's okay. Launch it.

Then over the next few months, improve one tiny part each day or week. Add more content, add some design elements, or get a custom logo made. Make steady progress, and in no time, you’ll have the website you wanted.

Here's another example:

Resolution: You want to get up an hour earlier (say 6:00 a.m.) to work on your writing business before your full-time job.

Problem: Getting up early sounds like a great resolution on New Year’s Eve, but when the alarm goes off, you slap the "snooze" button and promise you'll start getting up early tomorrow … or next week.

Kaizen Solution: Don't try to get up an hour early. Instead, try to get up just 10 or 15 minutes early this week. Say 6:45 a.m. Then next week, get up 15 minutes earlier, 6:30 a.m. The next week, you'll be getting up at 6:15 a.m. and then finally 6:00 a.m.

You're much more likely to hit your goal of getting up early because you won't feel nearly as tired with a gradual change. Of course, if 15 minutes is too much, start with five- or even one-minute increments.

To implement Kaizen in your life, first decide on just three to five goals or resolutions.

Write them down. I use Evernote, but even an index card or sticky note will do.

At the beginning of each week, review your goals and decide what tiny step you'll do that week (or that day) to move your goal forward.

Then put it on your calendar. This step is important. You must schedule your improvement so you'll remember to do it.

Here's how I'm going to apply Kaizen to each of my resolutions this coming year:

Get up every day at 6:00 a.m. I'm going to use the above technique and wake up just 15 minutes earlier every day the first week. Using the principle of Kaizen, I'll increase to 30 minutes the second week and so on.

Exercise 30 minutes per day. Again, I'm going to use the few-minutes-each-day technique and work out just 15 minutes per day at first. Each week, I'll increase it by 5 minutes until I'm up to 30 minutes every day.

Write 1,000 words per day. Starting January 1st, I'm going to write just 300 words per day. The next week, 350 words per day and so on until I get to 1,000 words per day.

So what do you think about Kaizen? Doesn't it make your goals seem easier and more attainable? Join the conversation here.

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Published: December 18, 2012

11 Responses to “An Easier Way to Get Up an Hour Earlier”

  1. Christina: LOVE the concept!!

    I'm easily overwhelmed by large tasks (have been for years) so I've actually been employing Kaizen since my early CPA days (didn't have a name for it back then).

    Freelance website is at the top of my list--just won't try to tackle it in one day!

    Diane Aksten

  2. Kaizen has long been used by industrialists, managers, workers and, yes, writers, to improve productivity.

    It's an excellent way to build any business, whether writing or producing widgets, because it focuses on achievable results.

    In essence, it is a named methodology for what many instructors and gurus suggest -- do not focus on the goal, but the next step you must take in that direction.

    It's the embodiment of the Asian saying "A journey of a thousand steps begins with one step"

    Guest (Tony Wanless)

  3. I couldn't agree more. I'm a big fan of continuous improvement and have run quite a few projects over the years. I also recently wrote a blog on taking small steps to get moving


  4. I read The Kaizen Way some time ago. I guess it's time to check it out of the library again.



  5. Japanese! Chinese! Mexican! UN! And gun control laws that will only leave the American life in a pitiful state of being. In my work the corporation even uses the five Japanese terms that means in American keep clean and organized. So what is the problem with simply saying I'm going to get up a little earlier in the morning to write. American! I bet those other countries don't use American terms to describe their way of life.
    On another note, gun control, just what they want, then they will make slaves of us. I am American 100% and will fight to keep my firearms.

    Guest (Mark Anderson)

  6. Hello Christina Gillick, This is an excellent reminder and encouragement. I do something similar but it helps to have the reminder and encouragement structured as you have here in your article. Thanks.


  7. Ya know I've heard this before or something close to it but for reason this really resonates with me this time. Maybe the examples just work for me or something. I think I can do this and I'm going to implement this technique with my goals that I'm setting NOW and not waiting till Jan 1.


  8. Kaizen - what a terrific concept! I'm going to use this to finish my second novel. Coincidentally I'd started applying this to my exercising life, but it was only when your post showed up in my mail box that I realized I could apply it to my writing life, too.

    Best piece of advice I've read all year. Kaizen.

    Guest (Rasana Atreya)

  9. Christina, You've written just about my dreams. I want to become better every day. But I didn't know how.

    Guest (Rumiya)

  10. Thanks for the articles; I've learned so much. Enjoy this!

    Guest (wanda jones)

  11. This is outstanding Christine. Great wisdom and so achievable. I love it!!


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