I have received many tools to improve my life – but how will I determine when to apply what I have learned?
The young engineer in me wanted to fix “everything”, apply all I learned to overhaul my mornings, evenings, and daily schedules.
Then, the older battle hardened 9-5er kicked in and said “whoaaaa there, shouldn’t we be a bit more cautious? I mean I don’t want to be over committing here”.
Both sides of my personal improvement equation were right. Urgency is important, but so too is doing so in a disciplined approach.’Urgency is important, but so too is doing so in a disciplined approach’ Ali Shahzada
All too often do we take off to change the world only to return frustrated by lack of progress.
As such, I decided to apply some of my professional training in my personal life.‘All too often do we take off to change the world only to return frustrated by lack of progress.’ Ali Shahzada
Ask Shiekh Google about continuous improvement and he will share with you several methodologies, the two most relevant to me are Lean and Six Sigma.
Both methodologies were born out of the manufacturing industry, and look to help organizations improve their processes to maximize the quantity or quality of their outputs while maintaining or reducing their inputs.
This methodology has been tried and tested over generations and across multiple industries (i.e. aviation, healthcare, and banking), so why not my personal life?
A tool that stood out to me right away was one by the name of “Leader Standard Work”.
Its purpose is to enable an individual to document what is important for them, track how often they achieve it, and why if they didn’t.
Sounds perfect right?
I took to task designing one that better aligned to what life I was looking to achieve: a productive Muslim one!
Below is a sample of what I created.
How to use this tool
The tool is designed to be a daily task organizer mixed with my ongoing priorities.
On the far left is a column for daily objectives. As mine was geared towards my family and spiritual life I focused on before and after work.
I had pre-typed those actions that I wish to occur consistently on a daily basis.
Below it I have left some room to hand write that which is important the day of.
On the far right is the same but for the week. The actions typed I would like to occur sometime during the week.
If it is something I would like to occur multiple times in the week but do not wish to tie to a specific day, I make multiple entries for. As such as any of my actions over the course of the day/week are completed, I check them off.
Now comes the most important part. In the centre of the sheet is a column titled “Flow interrupters” or as Brother Faris has coined “Shaitan interrupters”.
This column is meant to be used daily as a way to reflect what occurred during the course of the day/week that prohibited or did not allow me to check off a task I was supposed to do.
In my case, some of my Shaitan interrupters are Netflix (oh Daredevil why must you be so good?), ad-hoc Business meetings, and going to bed too late.
Now a novice would stop here and feel good with the knowledge of what is in their way.
But an expert like you would go further and answer the question: What must I do differently tomorrow/next week to reduce/eliminate the risk of this interrupter from happening again?‘But an expert like you would go further and answer the question: What must I do differently tomorrow/next week to reduce/eliminate the risk of this interrupter from happening again?’ Ali Shahzada
Or what action can I regularly do to proactively stop this issue from occurring?
In my above examples, some proactive solutions are: Setting a timer on my Wi-Fi to stop it at a certain time of the night. (Be sure to get agreement on what that time is from anyone sharing the connection!). Plus, pre-blocking repeatable times in my work calendar for spirituality/family priorities.
As you can see this tool is very versatile and can be reformatted to be used for your professional duties, or reformatted to be focused on your monthly tasks.
The longer the cadence the more strategic versus task oriented the tool becomes.
I pray this tool helps you too, happy planning!
Written by: Ali Shahzada is a Lean/Six Sigma certified instructor, and the Executive Director for The Value Collaborative, www.valuecollaborative.ca