Eliminate Waste

A powerful approach to making the best of our potential is to make sure that we eliminate all waste from our lives. In this context, waste is defined as any effort that doesn’t produce the desired results.

Value the Elimination of Waste

It stands to reason that, in order to reach your maximum potential, all your effort must be maximally productive, and this can only happen if you eliminate everything that is does not meet this ideal. And whilst it may not be possible to reach this lofty ideal in practice, the effort to do so will certainly help you take major steps in the right direction.
Eliminating waste in any setting has numerous significant benefits. For example, it:

  • Provides a focus for self-improvement efforts
  • Can be tackled in small steps if necessary
  • Can provide significant immediate benefits, especially in the early stages
  • Can reveal other, deeper issues
  • Makes you feel good
  • Develops your problem-solving skills

Moreover, eliminating waste as a means to maximising potential has been proven to work in numerous settings. For example, it is one of the central tenets of lean manufacturing, and is one of the fundamental principles by which companies such Toyota have achieved success. The general approach as been adapted use in a diversity of other commercial settings including Software Development and Service Provision, and is increasingly adopted for use in personal and domestic settings.

See Waste to Eliminate

The first step to dealing with waste is to learn to see it. At first, this can be quite hard – after all, if you really thought you were wasting your time and effort doing something then you probably wouldn’t be doing it in the first place. However, with a little practice, it is easy to see that waste crops up in all kinds of ways.

As you look for waste in your own life, it may help to look for waste in some of these categories:

  1. Unfinished work
  2. Clutter
  3. Over-consumption
  4. Repetition
  5. Distractions
  6. Delays
  7. Making mistakes
  8. Doing the wrong thing

Of course, it isn’t important to categorise each kind of waste – rather these categories are intended as an aid to seeing waste.
It can be helpful, however, to make a quick list of some of the things you’ve noticed – otherwise you may have to re-notice those same things later, and that would itself be wasteful!

Start to Eliminate Waste

There are all kinds of waste in our lives, and once you start to see it, it can be a little overwhelming. As a result, it can be difficult to know where to start tackling it.

One simple approach to avoid the paralysis of indecision, just start. This works because the waste in your immediate environment is often the waste that is reducing your ability to achieve your potential in what you’re doing right now.

As you become accustomed to dealing with your waste you might consider another strategy: go through your list and pick out the items that will have the most impact for the least effort. This works because the time and resource that you free up by dealing with these things can then be re-invested in tackling the next thing on your list.

Keep On Eliminating Waste

The reality is that you won’t ever eliminate all the waste in your life. There are many, many things that are beyond your control. Even those things that are apparently under your control can be extremely difficult to tackle. And this can, I admit, be a little dispiriting at times. The good news, however, is that there are many, many things that you can deal with – so focus on these things first. Once you’ve pulled them things up by the roots you’ll be better placed to deal with other things. So, take things a step at a time and enjoy your successes.

Clearing waste from your life is like removing weeds from a field: you’ll never get rid of them all, but the more you remove, the greater your harvest.


Image courtesy stock.xchng.