Reporting on my Incremental Improvement Plan


Turns out that change, even little step by little step, isn’t so easy.

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post advocating making little changes day after day after day. And I created the list of changes I’d make daily for fourteen days.

Below is my little list of 1% improvements along with my report of what I did and didn’t do.  And here, perhaps more importantly, is what I’ve learned.

Little Lessons Learned

It’s easier to do something new once than it is to keep doing it day after day. Though if it’s simple enough, day after day is possible.

Some things work for some people but not for others. I prefer making lists and then filing them away only to review them months later. I’m usually amazed that I’ve done most everything — not when I thought I would — but on my own time. The after-the-fact discovery feels like magic.

For me, making a list and then doing it step-by-step-by-step just feels boring. I prefer magic.

Tasks that take lots of piddling organizational work, like cleaning up my desktop, are pretty much beyond me.  I either can’t (or won’t) do them. Not sure which.

Sometimes one little discrete thing, like calling a business coach, can make a big difference in thinking and attitude.

Fourteen changes in fourteen days is just too dang many! How about one each week instead?

Big Lesson Learned

The power of making little changes is that they make you more aware of your actions.

The point is not so much to improve or get better, but to be more intentional about the way you live. Better or worse? Who’s to say? But being more present in the day to day… now that’s something to treasure.

My Progress Report

In case you’re interested in what I did and didn’t do, here’s my update.

1. Make the bed every day before noon.

I actually did this and felt quite foolishly proud. I mean, really, who cares if I ever make the bed?

2. Clean up my desk before turning off my computer every night.

Yup. Did this and it did make a difference. I never felt befuddled by the messy stacks of disorganized paper that often clutter my desk. I think it did help me be more productive.

3. Keep track of my to do lists on Trello without fail.

Yup. Did this, too. Trello is great. If you don’t use it, you should give it a whirl.

4. Clean out my email inbox.

Nope. This was one of those demanding piddly tasks I couldn’t get myself to do.  Still have hundreds of inbox emails.

5. Clean up my desktop (and keep it that way).

Nope. Here’s another non-starter. Though, I do think it’d be worthwhile.

6. Meditate for 5 minutes a day to let the good stuff surface.

Another one that didn’t happen… yet. Who knows, perhaps I’ll wake up next week inspired to meditate.

7. Hug Tyko (my husband) at least once a day.

This one was easy, ’cause I like to hug him, except that I had to remind myself to do it every day. And I may have forgotten a day or two.  I’ll keep working on this one. Seems the most worthwhile of the entire batch, actually.

8. Check in with a client once a week to make sure they are happy.

Haven’t done this yet, but still seems like a good idea.

9. Turn the to-do list upside down and do the onerous stuff first.

I’ve done this sort of, though a nasty project or two still gets stuck under the stack causing me irritating worry. Gotta keep working on this.

10. Imagine desired outcomes.

Maybe this is the key to meditating every day — how about if I meditate about desired outcomes? Or is that not the idea of meditation?

11. Make a week-by-week project plan.

I know my friend Marc P. loves this one. But for me, serious planning sucks the energy and inspiration out of me. I work better stewing until something emerges in a full-blown blast.

12. Write every day for 15 minutes.

This one’s easy, as I write for more than 15 minutes on one thing or another every day (whether I want to or not). Does that count?

13. Contact a business mentor/coach.

Yes! I had a great conversation with a business coach. And that little call has gotten me thinking in different ways.  An important little step for me.

14. Review progress.

Good to review and reflect and make a bit of sense of it all. And now I can go back to not making my bed before noon. 🙂

TryTry ThisThis

How’d You do on Your List?

Did you make a list of incremental steps to improvement, or at least change? If so, take stock of how you did or didn’t do. And if you didn’t make a little list, why don’t you try making one now? As you can see, I don’t think it’s sinful to make a list and not get it all done. It’s just sort of fun and interesting to try and see what happens. And if something sticks, all the better.

Let us know what incremental steps you’ve set for yourself in the comments below. Or, come on over to Facebook and leave your comment there.

  • jswagner

    I wasn’t as ambitious as you, as measured in count of daily items; nor am I as conscientious at followup. But the visual reminder to do what’s in front of me on a daily portion of a to-do list, and to not be so, so exclusively dedicated to clumping things serially and intuitively- that’s been very, very helpful. Thank you very much!! And for hanging your very own particular particulars out for us. The lurkers and I are pleased that Tyko’s hug unofficially reigns as paramount over all that world-beating of yours. We rarely have enough affairs of the soul on our lists, considering the scant thousands of days left to us. Too busy demanding Alexander the Great appear in the mirror by mid-morning, noon at the latest.

    For me, there’s a power in keeping the ideas at hand like this via a reviewed list, yet holding the items lightly while we review them. I have an excellent chance of getting an item done properly the next day if I’m easy on myself during review about missing it, instead of defaulting to flogging the Saint. Reminds me of the Zen admonishment to just notice and categorize thoughts during meditation, then let them pass on their way. If I’m matter-of-fact and polite to myself about a miss, it often turns unaccountably into a hankering to get it done the next day.