As a college student, I know a thing or two about being lazy. (Being a college student is a valid excuse for that, right?)

If you’re lazy and you really want to feel down about it, there are many ways your laziness costs not only you but your employer and those around you. In fact, when you think about all the hours people across the country spend sitting in their offices scrolling through Facebook when they should be working, that equates to an absolute ton of money.

In fact, according to the American Payroll Association, the average employee steals 4 hours and 5 minutes per week. You don’t even need to do the math to realize that is indeed a ton of cash across the country.

So laziness and lackluster motivation are more than just “no big deal.”

Feel bad about it? Want to change your lazy ways?

Enter the Japanese principle of Kaizen.

What is it?


Kaizen, according to (gotta be legit, right?), is the practice of continuous development. It was originally introduced to the Western world by author Masaaki Imai.

Today, it is seen in the practice of many organizations’ employee development programs.

One of the main principles of Kaizen is that big changes result from small changes over a period of time. This can prevent the burnout that comes from trying to tackle one big task at once.

For example, say you need to accomplish one of the biggest challenges known to the Western world: assembling furniture.

I don’t know about you but every time I have a new set laid out in front of me, I get pretty frustrated when I keep looking at the finished product on the box and wondering how they did it.

While I’m convinced that in 99% of instances the art designer said “screw it” and just photoshopped the pieces together, that’s beside the point.

Under the principle of Kaizen, you’d want to break that larger task into smaller chunks of time. So maybe I set a timer for one minute and say “Ok, I’m going to work on assembling the drawers of this desk for one minute.”

In the grand scheme of assembling furniture, one minute is nothing, and so by the time that time is up, I’ll have actually come up with a tangible result. Then I can repeat.


If my furniture example isn’t really cutting it, allow me to share a few tips with you that I’ve found from

1. Don’t focus on the problem all the time.

While this may seem counterintuitive, it can actually be incredibly refreshing. If we can step back into my world of furniture frustration for a moment, this could mean getting outside for five minutes or even sitting down and turning on the TV for a few. You never know where inspiration will come from, and getting away from the task at hand increases your ‘net,’ so to speak.

2. Teach others how to do things you’re good at.

You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn by doing this. This is another way of increasing your “inspiration net,” so to speak. Someone who is new to something will invariably have a fresh way of doing things, which can work to increase your understanding of the topic.

3. Focus on yourself first.

Kaizen is not a principle you need to hammer anyone else over the head with. Use it on yourself first. That doesn’t mean you can’t teach someone else this great new principle you’re learning, but the main drive behind your improvement effort should come from within.