7 Wastes of Lifes Transitions - How to Maximize Your Time Well Spent!

Transitioning your life and work can be fraught with headaches, hang-ups, and loss of precious time.  This post is here to help those that want to minimize wasted time in this experience and maximize the enjoyment, improve likelihood of success, and eliminate potential hazards as they transition to their Next Callings.  We will explore 7 Toxic Wastes as they relate to your transition and by first understanding what they are, we can be on the road to continuously reducing them and thus, maximizing our Time Well Spent.

In the Toyota Production System and popularized in Womack and Jones Lean Thinking, the concept of the 7 Wastes of Manufacturing were described and employed to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of manufacturing systems, in particular in the automobile industry.  These concepts and the other various facets of Lean Manufacturing have been applied across countless industries and organizations to improve their time well spent and deliver the best products and services they can to their customers.  In this post, I'd like to adapt the concept of the 7 Wastes to the experience of transitioning your life from one major stage to another, in particular for those transitioning out of their careers or businesses and on to their Next Callings.  The idea is to minimize all of the 7 Wastes as much as possible, in pursuit of an Ideal State of zero waste.  It is not something to stress out about but rather to understand that to progress, grow, and improve we must continuously address and minimize these wastes and challenge our assumptions about what is necessary and what isn't in our transitions.  These 7 Wastes are one perspective on how to remove wastes and expand your time available and fill it with time well spent in your transition and on to your next callings.

As a side note, through many upcoming posts, I will reference and talk about this specific life transition stage - out of the "work for income" world of ones career or business and into the next stage.  I like to refer to this transition as the transition to your "Next Callings".  I coined this phrase with a friend of mine for my business I'm working on because I believe people can and do have many "callings" if they so desire, and these callings don't end with leaving the world of "work for income", despite how we may have been conditioned since we were kids.  I'll leave the philosophizing and theorizing about the "work for income" world and "retirement' for many other posts but I want this one to be specifically valuable and actionable to my readers transitions, today.

In business when producing products or providing services, the customer only truly cares (and wants to pay for) about the tasks and processes associated with changing the form, fit, or function of those products and services to meet customer specifications and expectations.  Everything else is "waste" or in Japanese "muda" in the system.  To maximize customer satisfaction while ALSO maximizing profitability, a system must continuously improve to achieve this goal now and in the future.  Reducing and eliminating wastes in the system is one facet of achieving that goal.

In life, for me at least, I think of reducing the equivalent wastes to improve my quality of life and my families and continuously strive to maximize Time Well Spent.  The process of transitioning ones life and work is a micro-scale example but one with many moving pieces and variables that can contribute to fear and stress during the transition or even preventing one from taking that first step in the first place!

First, lets understand what the 7 Wastes of Manufacturing are.

  • Over Production - producing more than is necessary for a given market demand

  • Under Production - producing less than is necessary to meet market demand

  • Inventory - carrying more "work in progress" than is necessary for production to operate efficiently

  • Movement - moving more than is minimally necessary (in a single or limited location) to complete a task

  • Travel - travelling from one location to another than is minimally necessary to complete a task

  • Quality Defects - any resulting change to the form/fit/function of a product or service that does not meet customer specifications

  • Delay or Waiting - any situation where production or conduct of a task is "held", "delayed", or "waiting" for any resource required to complete a task.

"Ok" you say "but how is this useful in the LEAST for where I'm at?" Well, lets look at that.

  • First lets define the goals of a Transition to your Next Callings and what is "Value Added" in this experience?  The goal in the transition is specifically to design the future "product" as Next Callings that maximize time well spent.  It is then ultimately desirable to achieve the transition and beginning of these Next Callings in minimum time possible, while minimizing wasteful resource expenditures (keep the finances in order) and maximize their valuable utilization (use what you have to the maximum possible), all the while ensuring a seamless (i.e. high quality, low headache/hangup) transition to the Next Callings.

Now, lets get into each of the 7 Waste of Life's Transitions so we can first learn to identify them

  • Overproduction
    • Conducting excessive planning in the domains of finances, health, etc.. There is a time and place for self-educating in these areas but initially, it's best to consult professionals in these areas to maximize your learning and action in as short a time as possible.  There is nothing wrong with self-learning and I highly encourage it but you may find that you can maximize your focus areas for learning by exploring them and what's most relevant to you with the help of trusted advisors.  Some to look in to are: National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (https://www.napfa.org/) and National Association of Healthcare Underwriters (http://www.nahu.org/).
  • Under Production
    • This one would seem obvious but can be nuanced as well.  It is essentially doing very little planning or work on your transition or rather, less than is necessary to be successful and as little hardship as possible. One must understand ones goals as well as one's Fears to effectively grasp where the sweet spot is to be able to identify and avoid/eliminate Over/Under Production.
  • Inventory
    • The meaning of this waste for me, in life's transitions, essentially means having a lot of "things in work" and not completing actions, goals, to do's, etc..  To many items in progress will only bog down your effort/project as a whole and will hide elements where, if left undealt with, could cause a lot of hang-ups later on.  Things like Tax accounting and preparation and how it's relevant to your Financial Preparations and investments.  Making sure to complete these actions in a timely manner and ensuring effective coordination between these subjects in your life or between your professional advisors, will make progress and transition that much more smooth.  We only have so much "working memory" capacity in our brains as well so filling it up with large and unprocessed lists of actions will bog you down and increase your anxiety and stress.
  • Movement
    • This can mean things as simple as having all your transition records and "Next Callings" oriented files co-located, in an orderly system, where you don't have to waste time searching, cleaning, remembering, refiling, etc..  This can be in hardcopy form or electronic.  Additionally, this could also be to couple together tasks, projects, etc. where you can batch them all together to minimize the effort required to collect records, think about your to do's, etc.  Handle your accounting in proximity to your financial planning (in time) and get them all dealt with quickly, in chunks.
  • Travel
    • This doesn't mean the good part of "traveling".  This means in relation to your transition and all the effort required.  Try to find professional advisors that are close in your geographic area so you don't increase travel time and expense to work with them.  In fact, find ones that are well equipped and open for virtual communication like email, texts, or even over webcams using Skype or other video chat services.  Additionally, if you are downsizing your home as a part of your transition or moving to another locale, avoid excessive travel by making sure you don't end up having to get a storage unit as separate from your living arrangements.  There's plenty to be said with that but the travel to and from, the headache of paring down your belongings at a separate location, etc. all have plenty of wasted time and effort associated with them, so work hard to avoid it!
  • Quality Defects
    • Basically, in your plans as well as work with your financial professionals, spend a little extra time/effort to avoid errors, misunderstandings, gaps in knowledge/planning, etc.. Quality defects can result in minor headaches and pains or could cause rather large issues for you down the line.  Missing a tax deadline because of errors in the filing information or not structuring your financial portfolio appropriately to your goals and risk tolerances can have much bigger consequences.  For simpler areas, leaving out certain dimensions of your life in your planning could result in some unintended consequences as well.  Many people leaving their "work for income" lives at 60 and 65 are realizing all too late that they are or will soon be put in the place of caregiver or care coordinator for elderly parents.  Some people plan for this, many do not.  Find out from people that have transitioned before you or from a wealth of information available online or in books.  Major stages of life's transitions are full of great times but many avoidable heartaches as well.
  • Delay or Waiting
    • Make sure your personal plan is validated by your financial advisor, personal accountant, and others to ensure it meshes with their business schedules and timing.  You may have questions or needs during your transition and they may be unavailable for you and you could be left in a gap place that you hadn't expected.  This also means planning ahead for changing your living arrangements in some way as this is a critical resource for thriving Next Callings as well as flawless transitions.

I sincerely hope these descriptions of the 7 Wastes of Life's Transitions and Next Callings have been helpful.  Think about them and how to continuously reduce their presence in your life and transitions. The ultimate goal is to maximize your Time Well Spent here and knowing of the 7 Wastes is half the battle on the path to eliminating them.