Lean Productivity For Individuals

In last week blog post, we re-visited square one and tried to seek the most crucial point of the being productive, which is the motive. I hope by now, you are convinced that your motive should be personal and only yours, without copying or trying to be someone else

I also hope you agree with me that we are all different, and each of us needs to be productive in his own way. Working 14h a day may work for some people and make them more happy and satisfied; however, that might not work for others, including you and me.

In this post, I want to build on that "fact". Your attempt to copy other people techniques and routine 1-to-1 and hoping that you will become the yoda of productivity overnight, will not only fail but will probably hit you with more devastation. Other's routine was built to match their lifestyle and personality. And what brings them joy (like working 14h a day) would make you miserable.

So the only question left to ask is, how do you build your own productivity system? a system that has in its core only what matters to you!

You probably heard of the term lean production: a systematic manufacturing method to eliminate waste within the manufacturing system. Lean production is all about reducing waste, not just material waste, but labour and time waste generated by some processes.

Later on, the same concept was applied to many other sectors like startups, coding and management. And I feel like the same principles that could make a whole factory, or a company works in top efficiency, could also be applied to individuals to improve their productivity in a meaningful way. And I said "I feel" because the idea is still half baked in my head and needs some time to simmer so bare with me.

So let's talk about the 5 basic Lean principles:

1. Identify value

We coved this part in the previous post. The same way a company needs to add value defined by its customers' needs. You need to identify the value you want to add to your life based on what matters to you and brings you joy and pleasure.

So you first need to identify the value you want to get out of "being productive" before proceeding to the next step.

2. Value stream mapping

This is the point where you literally need to map your workflow. It has to include all actions -and maybe people- involved in delivering the value you are anticipating.

When you have your value stream mapped, it will be much easier to see where the problem is. This big-picture will enable you to find what has been sucking your time and energy and eliminate it.

3. Create continuous workflow

In lean manufacturing, this is producing and moving one item at a time. Which make it faster to find defects and issues in the production line. We could employ the same concept, and by breaking up work into smaller batches and visualizing the workflow, we can easily detect and remove process roadblocks.

I found this to be true while editing my youtube videos. I used to review all the footage and finish the whole video at once. Later I found out it was much faster and easier to break it into parts and complete each piece individually before connecting them at the end.

4. Create a pull system

This is simply that you don't do something unless you need/have to. Forget about "I will do it just in case.". This will allow you to optimize your resources and put your energy where you actually need it most.

5. Continuous Improvement

This is probably the most crucial step of our lean productivity. The key idea here is that "productivity" is a process, and it takes trial and error. Being a productive person is not a switch that you flip, it's a series of experiments to see what works for you and what does not and re-discover yourself. In my 6+ months journey to productivity, my interests have changed. When I started, I wanted to be an indie hacker, to bootstrap a SaaS company. Today I want to be more outside, make videos and meet new people. The productivity mentality and tools that could work for an indie hacker probably will not work for a travelling YouTuber.

In summary

This "lean productivity" should be more like a guide for building a system that evolves continuously and helps you keep track of the value you appreciate the most.

I hope my gibberish made some sense. Next post, I will try to bring an actual example and apply all five principles on my personal workflow.