Japanese technique against laziness “KAIZEN” or the 1 minute principle

How many times have you set goals for yourself and written lists of plans? How many times have you managed to achieve them? When the time comes to act, we often tell ourselves that now is not the right moment, there are many small urgent matters and it would be better to postpone the start of the plan to the next day, or better yet to the next week. Or wait until the New Year so that you can definitely start a new life, where everything will be perfect right away.

In fact, at this point we give up. This happens because when setting goals, people often do not calculate their strength: they want to achieve everything at once. In fact, the task becomes doubly difficult. A person must not only achieve his goal, which in itself requires effort, but also completely change in the process: become many times more hardworking and productive. The last condition makes the goal practically unattainable. Double responsibility to yourself is overwhelming and quickly tires. After all, giving up old habits and cultivating new ones is difficult. Therefore, working towards achieving a goal quickly gets boring. We get lazy and stop acting.

Kaizen technique is the key to success

The birthplace of this technique is Japan, it was invented by Masaaki Imai. The word itself contains 2 roots - “kai” (“change”) and “zen” (“wisdom”). This means that a person should change his life not spontaneously, but slowly and wisely. New habits should be the result of your thoughts and life experiences.

Masaaki Imai believes that the Kaizen philosophy can be applied to all areas of human life, that is, in family relationships, everyday life, business, etc. For example, the Japanese often use technology to improve management techniques.

Kaizen technique, or the 1 minute principle

How does this method work? It is based on the idea that you should do something specific for 1 minute, every day at the same time. Just 1 minute, no more! Following such a principle is not difficult for anyone, right? Even the laziest person can complete a task for only so long. It's easy to slack off on tasks that take half an hour or an hour, but if it only takes 60 seconds, no excuses.

What is Kaizen

The key point is to overcome laziness and continue working. Then we will get what we want. There is an effective way to deal with laziness. It is suitable for achieving any goals. This is a simple but effective exercise that takes less than one minute. The technique is called Kaizen and is known as the one minute principle. This technique was invented in Japan, and it is suitable for working with all areas of our lives. In Japan, it is used to study and improve management methods in companies.

The word Kaizen consists of two roots: Kai means change, and Zen means wisdom. In detail, this can be explained this way: you should approach changing your life gradually and wisely, and not impulsively and carelessly. We must form new habits based on reflection and life experiences. This is what Masaaki Imai, the inventor of the Kaizen technique, thinks. This is a whole philosophy that is equally suitable for both business and ordinary life.

Fighting laziness: how to fight laziness in Japanese or use “kaizen”

kaizen system

Fighting laziness: how to fight laziness in Japanese or use “kaizen”

Laziness is very inventive, creating a thousand excuses, it directs all its energy to ensure that, God forbid, we move. This is her main job, her purpose.

I wonder, do you like laziness? After all, this is an affectionate creature who will tell us about our extraordinary abilities and the unimaginable stress that we experience in modern life. Laziness will allow us to laze in bed, not clean the apartment, and not even wash the dirty dishes after ourselves. But when pieces of plaster from the ceiling begin to fall on our heads, and our body takes on a gelatinous state, perhaps then we will still decide that it is worth moving, at least in some direction.

However, after the daily libations of our talkative friend, this will be extremely difficult to do. After all, bad habits are second nature. This means that if you have laziness on one leg, then quickly take measures to combat it.

Fighting laziness: will kaizen help?

How often does it happen to you that, having decided to start a new business, you put it off until tomorrow, Monday, next month, or even next year. You cannot achieve your goal just because you constantly put it off to the future. But why does this happen? Perhaps the tasks that we want to shoulder are very difficult for us and under the weight of this load we are simply afraid to break. We are unable to take even the first step towards our goal.

Sometimes, on the contrary, we get down to business with zealous enthusiasm, but soon leave it for a while or even forever.

A heavy workload breaks us, and the habit of working systematically has not yet formed. After all, it's laziness.

So that in the future we do not put off our affairs until later, but bring everything to the necessary end, the Japanese came up with the principle of one minute, or they call it differently:

Kaizen technique

The technique is very simple. You need to do a certain activity every day for one minute at the same time.

Would it be difficult for you to do gymnastics just one minute a day, learn a foreign language, pump up your abs, etc. Now the work doesn’t seem so difficult to you, does it? Those actions that required you to spend a lot of time on, constantly begging yourself, can be completed in one minute.

You receive satisfaction and joy from what you have done, now laziness will not be able to stand in your way, it simply will not be able to do it. By taking small steps, you boldly move towards your goal, gradually increasing the time of classes, first 2 then 5, 10 minutes, etc. in increasing order, you can say goodbye to laziness and achieve excellent results.

And the word kaizen itself is translated as follows:

“Kai” means change, “Zen” means wisdom.

The Kaizen philosophy is clear and simple for anyone. It can be applied in many areas of human life, including business and personal life. To Europeans, this technique may seem ineffective at first glance, since they have the belief that they can achieve what they want only through a lot of effort. The Japanese believe that too much work can break a person and all his actions will become ineffective.

So quickly decide on your goals and start applying the Kaizen technique right now.

What is the Kaizen philosophy, when and where did it originate?

This philosophical concept was developed by Japanese manager Masaaki Imai after World War II.

In the West, his theory seemed inconvenient, because the idea that one must work very hard to achieve the desired results has always prevailed on the Western continent. And until now, large European companies are trying to get dividends by investing huge amounts of money in super technologies, equipment or the latest equipment.

Masaaki Imai himself assures that such companies will not last long and all of them will face collapse and ruin, because the situation on world markets is growing year by year, and supply significantly exceeds demand for goods. And it doesn’t matter what it concerns - cars, gadgets or food.

This idea was originally developed for management. After Toyota gained momentum and took a leading position in the world economy, almost all Japanese companies began to implement kaizen. It is believed that thanks to this philosophy Japan was able to recover so quickly from crises.

Kaizen gradually spreads throughout the world and finds its adherents to this day.

Increases training efficiency

So, set yourself a goal, for example, to do the splits in three months. Determine a time when it is convenient for you to study. Consult a trainer or download a mobile app that will suggest stretching exercises. Strictly follow the training schedule, make development a habitual state and devote time to training every day. If you don’t want to work alone, find yourself a partner – it’s always easier in a team.

Photo: istockphoto.com

You shouldn't exercise in a bad mood. A positive attitude towards “production” is the basis of the Kaizen philosophy. An equally important component is encouragement; don’t forget to praise yourself. After all, even a small workout, even five minutes, is better than nothing. And after a while it will become a habit.

By regularly devoting time to exercise, you can truly achieve success. Scientists from the University of Utah, USA, conducted a study and found that the quality and intensity of training is more important than its duration. High daily exercise lasting less than 10 minutes reduces the risk of obesity by 5% in women and by 2% in men.

Countdown: 8 steps to a healthy body

Simple daily actions that affect your well-being, in numbers.


The task is simple - determine where exactly you want to achieve the desired results. Then make a plan, structure and allocate just one minute a day to work.

For example, do you want to learn English? Memorize one word a day, this will be enough to, say, in a year, find out that you know 365 new words. Surely this is much better than tormenting yourself with long exercises every few months, when you muster all your will into a fist? As a result, we got completely different numbers, much less than with the kaizen approach.

You can even set a timer for 60 seconds and get to work. Gradually, but imperceptibly, that is, without loss of energy and physical resources, you will reach your goal.

By the way, if you don’t know how to create a self-education plan, click here.

We apply the kaizen theory and confidently set out on the path to success

Let's try to put this system into practice:

  1. Set a goal for yourself that you want to achieve . You shouldn’t expect tangible results right away, because it’s unlikely that you can learn Chinese or master yoga techniques in a minute. But you can, for example, learn one word or one simple exercise every day.
  2. Don't be afraid to do what you decide - it will only take sixty seconds.
  3. Give yourself permission to do more . When a daily habit becomes a system, we will want to spend more time to achieve our goal. But, as Imai advises, no more than 15–20 minutes. Although it is believed that this time period should be at least 30 minutes, only then can we move forward towards the task we have set ourselves.
  4. Learn to enjoy these minutes , which, instead of fear of an unfulfilled task, will bring joy and pride in your successes.

Having rummaged through social networks, I found a lot of reviews about how this system is being implemented into our lives and helps the lazy get rid of their guilt complex. Many people write that after trying kaizen, literally within a week they began to feel the need for classes and could no longer do without them. A stable habit has formed, which has turned into a system and is firmly rooted in everyday life.

Maybe we should all try to plunge into the Kaizen philosophy and we will help ourselves not only acquire new useful knowledge or skills, but also get rid of interfering and sometimes bad habits.

The essence of Kaizen theory - the basic principles of success

According to this theory, it is necessary to constantly, daily and hourly, improve business, and for this, any manager must delve into the production process itself, know about all the little things related to the work process. “Get out of your easy chairs and go to the shop floor, see where improvements are needed and make them,” says Imai.

Moreover, these innovations do not require financial investments; this is not associated with the purchase of expensive equipment or cutting-edge technologies. We need to change the culture of the company itself and the employees working in it. They must accept the principles of so-called lean production, which is radically different from conventional production, in which products are produced that are subsequently sold, not all of them, without finding demand.

It is necessary to take into account demand and deliver, for example, parts as needed, in order to avoid a surplus of unnecessary machines stored in warehouses. The result is to supply only the required quantity of goods to the market. By the way, Toyota is the sales leader not only in the Russian, but also in the European markets.

Today, three components of the theory are known:

  • For leaders and managers . It is believed that they should devote at least 50% of their working time to process improvement. Improvement refers to shortening the production process and reducing the level of accumulated inventories, while increasing the quality of the products.
  • For a specific working group in which problems are identified and very quick ways to solve them are found. There are kaizen corners in companies where you can get acquainted with new proposals and ideas, as well as learn from the useful experience of other groups.
  • For an individual (individual kaizen): allows you to reveal the capabilities of the individual by applying the attitude that you need to work not more, but more productively (smarter). In many enterprises, on improved equipment, you can see a plate with the data of the worker who made the smart suggestion.

We have sorted out the production. But the Kaizen philosophy is also applicable to an individual, as an excellent method of combating laziness.


Kaizen (Japanese for "change" and "good") is a Japanese philosophy or practice that focuses on continuous improvement in manufacturing, development, supporting business and management processes, and all aspects of life. In simple words, it is continuous improvement. Most often, kaizen is associated with business, but part of it can be transferred to the area of ​​self-development, which we will discuss separately.

The concept itself became very popular in Japan in the 1950s. And later, thanks to the works of Masaaki Imai, kaizen gained popularity all over the world. Some modern researchers consider him the ideological inspiration of Henry Ford, who wrote in his autobiography that the goal of production is to constantly reduce costs, invent new technologies and at the same time reduce prices for goods.

Kaizen in production

The history of kaizen began after World War II, when Toyota first introduced the quality cycle into its production process. This was partly influenced by American business and management gurus who were then consulting and working in Japan. At that time, the land of the rising sun was going through difficult times; its goods were considered low-grade and were not in demand. But after a few decades the situation changed dramatically. And many believe that the reason is precisely the implementation of kaizen.

The main essence of the approach is continuous improvement of the production process. Kaizen principles:

Improve each process gradually

Business consists of different processes: production, accounting, service, relations with suppliers. If you do not pay due attention to some areas, you will not achieve an optimal production cycle, as you will constantly encounter problems, costs and losses in different areas of your business. There are no small things in business, so everything needs to be improved.

In order to improve the process, you first need to understand how many stages it consists of. Then you need to analyze each of them and identify those that can be removed.

For example, you are analyzing one process that consists of three stages:

  • Stage A lasts 5 minutes.
  • Stage B lasts 8 minutes.
  • Stage B lasts 10 minutes.

This adds up to 23 minutes. Is it possible to combine something or get rid of something? Remember that production costs money, and an extra minute is worth its weight in gold.

If we talk about production, then there should be nothing superfluous in it. Workers should not stand idle (but this does not mean that they should be given any work so as not to rest), and the goods should be sold immediately.

Discuss problems openly

Bureaucratic organizations are ineffective because everything is hidden in them, decisions are made by a select few, there is no discussion, the flow of information occurs with delays, distortions, or does not occur at all.

There are always problems, so it is necessary not to hide them, but to bring them up for discussion. Improvements are impossible without finding solutions.

Get rid of unnecessary expenses

Spending means:

  • Movement : In a factory, workers make unnecessary movements and the material is too far away.
  • Time : Every process in manufacturing takes time. Anyone who can significantly reduce it will receive benefits.
  • Defects : The more defects that are identified early, the more time and money can be saved.
  • Overproduction : If you produce more goods than you need, it will sit in warehouses, leading to additional waste.

Accept ideas from employees

Employees are our greatest asset. Henry Ford proudly wrote about how ordinary workers came up with improvements almost every day that saved the plant tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Of course, they knew that they would be rewarded.

Staff should be motivated to come up with improvements. But even today this is often not the case. Workers come to the office or factory in the morning and leave in the evening, without being emotionally involved in the affairs of the company for which they work.

Therefore, it is important to create a system in which everyone can offer an improvement, no matter how small. Moreover, not only to offer it, but also to get the opportunity to implement it and distribute it throughout the company. And get a reward for it.

Fix what doesn't work

An obvious principle that not everyone adheres to. If you think about it, you yourself probably know cases when something doesn’t work in production or doesn’t work right, but no one cares. As a result, as time goes on, the company learns to live with the shortcomings, but not eliminate them.

Three basic rules following from this principle:

  • If you can run a business without something broken, throw it away.
  • If you can't, fix it.
  • If something can work better, improve it.

Laziness and unwillingness to improve are qualities of people who will soon have no place in business.

Be frugal

It is a mistake to believe that being frugal means saving on the salaries of your employees. This is the most wrong way to reduce costs, which is rejected in every possible way in kaizen. Savings are achieved through small improvements in all areas.

Just remember that new technologies do not solve old problems. They replace them with new, but still unknown ones.

Focus on clients

It's easy to forget about clients when there is so much work and problems. But without a focus on the client, improving quality, and reducing prices, the business will be doomed.

Create work teams

Each employee must be a member of the work team and the quality circle. This approach helps create a sense of belonging to something larger. But the main thing is that employees will have no doubts about whether they need to adhere to high quality. They will take it by default.


We need to create quality standards and stick to them. Solutions to possible problems should be described in a special document so that anyone can access it. This way you can consolidate your success and always meet your standards.

Draw conclusions based on facts

Analyze what is happening based on facts and reliable information.

The concept of kaizen would be incomplete without mentioning lean manufacturing. In fact, it is this that is the main one, and kaizen is only one of the components.


Lean manufacturing is a manufacturing enterprise management concept based on the constant effort to eliminate all types of waste.

It is also based on several principles.

Continuous improvement

This concept is called kaizen. This principle is fundamental to lean manufacturing.

Without continuous improvement, progress will be stunted: costs will rise, prices will rise, competitors will dominate.

The point is that continuous improvement is a condition that you create in your company. This is not something that needs to be imposed, and something that needs to be called upon from time to time: such a principle should be built into the business by default.

Respect for humanity

Lean manufacturing is closely related to people. Many business owners believe that the main goal is to make as much money as possible. However, in the long run they lose both financially and reputationally.

You should pay attention to both your subordinates and your clients and society as a whole. Every employee, even if they don’t admit it, wants to feel important. It is important for him to understand that he is making a contribution, not only to the development of the company, but also to benefit humanity.

Clients must feel that they are taken care of. It is important for society that companies share their values ​​and care about the planet and the future.

Leveled production

The basis of this principle is that the workload should be the same every day. Most manufacturing companies are at the mercy of their customers when receiving orders. Production stands idle and this leads to serious costs and waste.

Henry Ford repeatedly stated that every manufacturer needed to get rid of its dependence on orders. How? Lowering prices by cutting costs. Each of his new cars usually cost less than the previous one. Thus, he knew for sure that there would be buyers. Only for this you need to implement the principles of lean production.

You can make a forecast of how many people will buy your product for $100 based on the previous period. But if you can sell it for $80 and improve the quality, you'll be able to sell a lot more and you'll end up winning in the end.

Just-in-time products

If you create a product that sits in a warehouse, this is fraught with huge costs. If you can't create a product because the supplier didn't deliver the right components, the result will be exactly the same.

That is why modern companies use Kanban - a system for organizing production and supply that allows them to implement the just-in-time principle.

Built-in quality

Quality must be built into:

  • manufacturing process
  • design of parts
  • packaging
  • delivery

This principle allows you to notice defects in the early stages and correct them immediately. Which, of course, leads to cost minimization and continuous production.

Waste disposal and use

One of the main principles of lean manufacturing is the elimination or use of waste.

Lean manufacturing is a very broad term and it is simply impossible to fully disclose it within the narrow confines of our article. But we definitely need to talk about the tools.

Hoshin Kanri _

This is the combination of the company's goals (strategy) with the plans of middle management (tactics) and the work performed in the plant (actions). It ensures consistent progress towards strategic goals, eliminating waste that occurs due to poor communication.

Andon _

This is a visual feedback system that notifies all employees about the production status and allows operators to stop the production process.

Acts as a real-time communication tool in the plant that immediately draws attention to problems.

Waste _

Anything that happens during the production process that does not add value from the customer's point of view.

Eliminating waste is a core focus of lean manufacturing.

Poka - Yoke

Detecting and preventing errors in manufacturing processes to achieve zero defects.

This tool helps to save a lot of money because detecting defects during production is much cheaper.

Another lean manufacturing tool is gemba kaizen, which we will discuss separately.

Gemba Kaizen

Gemba is a Japanese term that literally means “real place.” In business, this could be a construction site or floor where production occurs or where the service provider directly interacts with the customer.

The point of gemba kaizen is to make improvements to the gemba (that is, the place where the real work happens). These improvements will have a big impact on the organization.

Five golden rules of gemba kaizen:

  1. When a problem arises, you must first go to the gemba. This will give you a clear idea of ​​the problem and help you find a suitable solution. The Japanese principle differs from the American one, where all problems are usually solved remotely.
  2. Check the objects and find the possible cause of the problem. Causes can be classified according to 5 principles: man, machine, material, methods and measurement.
  3. You must take temporary measures on the spot to avoid further deterioration.
  4. Find the root cause. Use, for example, the Pareto principle.
  5. To prevent the problem from arising again, document it in standards and instructions.

Implementing gemba kaizen principles in the workplace has many benefits for companies. This not only saves money, but also creates a business atmosphere where there is no place for stress and negative emotions. The problem is resolved very quickly, which also helps save time.

More details about gemba kaizen.

What is anti-kaizen

Anti-kaizen is a toxic behavior that includes all the limiting beliefs that prevent any improvement and progress.

There are 13 toxic behavior beliefs that hinder progress and improvement. This applies not only to companies, but also to people. Here they are:

  1. Lying to yourself: appearing rich and successful when in fact you are not.
  2. Consider yourself a victim of circumstances: whine, moan and blame the world around you.
  3. Think in the style of “there is no need for improvement”: allow yourself to be sucked into routine, repeating the same actions.
  4. Believing that there is never enough time: an excuse for not developing yourself or your company.
  5. Strive to react to problems rather than prevent them: such people always fail to complete work by the deadline, resulting in a fair amount of stress.
  6. Lack of self-confidence and courage: this is what is needed in order to face problems, failures and mistakes.
  7. Passionately desire to change others, not themselves: such people do not understand that change begins with them.
  8. Consider problems as something unbearable, and not a means for gaining experience: instead of progress, they get stress and spoil their nerves.
  9. Don't create new ideas: because it's difficult, painful and time consuming.
  10. Give up quickly: change is a very long process, so starting but not finishing = not starting.
  11. Solve problems with additional administration and money, rather than with the help of your brain and creative thinking.
  12. Hoping for better times without doing anything: problems will not be solved by themselves.
  13. Make decisions too quickly: without sufficient information, it is easy to make mistakes.


The topic of kaizen and lean leadership is a very broad one, so it is likely that you will want to delve deeper into it. The following books are suitable for this:

  • "My Life, My Achievements" Henry Ford.
  • “Kaizen. The key to the success of Japanese companies" Masaaki Imai.
  • “Gemba Kaizen. The Path to Reducing Costs and Improving Quality” by Masaaki Imai.
  • “5S for workers. How to Improve Your Workplace by Hiroyuki Hirano.
  • “Practice the Toyota Way. A Guide to Implementing Toyota Management Principles by Jeffrey Liker and David Mayer.
  • “Step by step to achieve your goal. Kaizen method" Robert Maurer.
  • “The Tao of Toyota. 14 management principles for the world's leading company" Jeffrey Liker.
  • "Lean. How to get rid of waste and make your company prosper" James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones.
  • “Lean Manufacturing Tools II. A Pocket Guide to Lean Practices by Michael Thomas Vader.
  • Kanban and Just-in-Time at Toyota. Management begins at the workplace” Yuri Adler (editor).
  • “Lean office. Eliminating Waste Time and Money" by Don Tapping and Anne Dunn.

We hope that this substantial number of books will be enough to fully study the essence of kaizen and begin to implement it in your company.

We wish you good luck!

We also recommend reading:

  • Storytelling
  • Lean
  • Lean concept. Lean
  • The benefits of weekly planning
  • Henry Ford "My Life, My Achievements" - summary
  • Kanban. Just-in-time principle
  • Deming's 14 steps to business improvement
  • Technology life cycle
  • Six Sigma
  • How to find the source of the problem
  • Gemba Kaizen


Examples of actions in the kaizen style

TargetAction in kaizen style
Stop spending a lot of moneyRemove one item from your cart before heading to the checkout
WorkoutWait - yes, just wait! On the treadmill for a few minutes every morning.
Coping with stressOnce a day, notice where you feel tension (neck? shoulders?). Take one deep breath.
Keep the house cleanSelect one corner of the house, set a timer for 5 minutes and start cleaning. Stop when the signal sounds.
To sleep moreGo to bed one minute earlier in the evening or stay in bed one minute more in the morning.
Stop drinking a lot of coffee Reduce your coffee consumption to 1 cup per day. Drink when you want it most.

When using Kaizen, remember that you just need to take one small step - a step towards yourself and your goals! Goals can be difficult to achieve and sometimes scary, but they are achievable if you get unstuck and continually take small steps.

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