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Let's conduct a Waste Analysis on your life!

Have you encountered the concept of waste analysis from Lean Six Sigma? Around 15 years ago, I successfully completed a green belt L6S training, an experience that feels like a chapter from another lifetime. It was an incredible journey, taking me to Zaragoza for a week-long training, a time when work-related travel was still a novelty – pre-dating the era of budget airlines and smartphones. Interestingly, that training marked my initial footsteps on Spanish soil, and here I am today, living in Spain!

One valuable tool from this training was waste analysis, a straightforward yet effective method to identify inefficiencies in a process by engaging key stakeholders. By meticulously mapping out the entire process step by step, we pinpointed areas where efficiency was lacking, leading to delays or duplication. The subsequent step involved devising actions to streamline the process, resulting in an effective, efficient, and lean outcome.

So what if we conduct a waste analysis on your life, as part of a coaching process, and we eliminate all those non-added-value elements that could make your packed schedule lighter and your mind more focused and relaxed?

Mental level

Imagine that we conduct such an analysis with you - what would be the mental elements that you probably want to get rid of?

Unclear and unrealistic expectations and the frustration caused by them would be probably one of the most important elements to eliminate. Both in my corporate and private coaching experience, I see that as a huge problem that managers and stakeholders don't express clearly enough what are their expectations regarding the daily tasks. When we talk about working mums, it can be the grey area of how to manage situations when there is a conflict between school requirements and work, or when there is a sick kid at home and the mum is still required to meet urgent deadlines. And unspoken expectations or hidden agendas cause nothing but frustration. By discovering and mapping them you can find solutions, agree on the unclear areas and say goodbye to a big amount of frustration and stress.

Another typical root cause for frustration can be the lack of healthy boundaries. In the corporate world, there is often a false urgency that things need to be done by yesterday and if you don't stand up for yourself assertively and learn to say no, then you will find yourself probably in a very stressful situation that you will have a way bigger workload then a human being could manage alone. This will harm your stress level and your private family life, as probably you would still try to do everything to keep a professional image, resolve everything promptly and answer immediately a million different questions.

The misconception that being professional means resolving everything must be debunked. True professionalism involves knowing your capacity and planning resources accordingly.

Working mothers frequently feel the need to overcompensate for working in non-traditional arrangements, believing they have no right to refuse tasks. The key is realizing that being professional also means understanding your limits and planning accordingly.

Practical level

Transitioning to the practical level, applying adjustments in managing expectations and setting boundaries can make a significant impact on your life. 

What are those meetings, deadlines or entire projects that you identify that you can't fulfil even with your best efforts? What difficult conversations do you need to take care of to understand what are the clear expectations towards you and where do you need to be strong and say no or manage others' expectations and deal with them only later or with lower priority? 

Too often we are afraid of the consequences, what would others think if we don't say yes to everything in a corporate environment and if we don't make ourselves available for everything, immediately? But that is an unrealistic expectation leading to nothing but burnout and remember, you can't be everything for everyone.

You can apply the same principles in your private life. What are those activities that don't bring added value and you can label them as 'waste'? What are the indispensable ones that you hate spending time with? There are always a lot of opportunities to make your private responsibilities and tasks leaner by eliminating activities or outsourcing them. 

For example, these days there are more and more households that outsource cleaning, ironing or even cooking, and there is nothing wrong with it. You offer work to someone else and you get rid of a big headache of when to squeeze in those household tasks when you are already busy and exhausted. But probably you need to accept that it is not realistic to take care of the kids, have a full-time job and on top of everything, be on top of the household tasks with no help. 

In conclusion, adopting a Lean Six Sigma mindset in your life can result in a beautiful, lean existence with reduced stress and frustration, offering more time for personal disconnect and quality family time. 

Take a moment to reflect – how much 'waste' currently exists in your professional and private life?

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