Improving our lives

Without improvement time, we can become stale and jaded. Photo by Jungwoo Hong on Unsplash

We all wake up into a day, and then we have a choice as to what activities to do.  Usually, we rely on habit, or on expectation.  We do our job according to the job description; or we eat our meals according to our standard methods.  Life ticks along.  We stop choosing, and fall into routines.

But what happens if we need to make some life changes?  Routine is very helpful in keeping us on track in life in general, but it doesn’t, in itself, help us to improve our lives.  For that, we need to make sure that our routine includes ‘improvement time’ – time spent maintaining and improving our selves, our body, mind, our skills, our environment.

Without improvement time, our bodies, minds, skills, environments and relationships will go stale, and become jaded.  We can tell when this is happening, because our homes get dirty and cluttered, our bodies feel sluggish, and life feels like a long walk up a ‘down’ escalator.

To help ourselves, we need to build in some specific types of improvement activity:

  1. Cleaning and clearing
  2. Maintaining and replacing
  3. Building and decommissioning
  4. Signing up and signing out

These are the activities that we do when we are really improving life.

  1. CLEANING AND CLEARING – Cleaning and clearing is all about making sure the spaces we live in are as clean, and clear of clutter, as possible.  This applies to our home, our workplace, our vehicle, and our selves.  Usually we are cleaning surfaces, positioning objects, and removing out-of-place objects.
  1. MAINTAINING AND REPLACING – Maintaining and replacing is all about making sure that  the things around us all work as they are supposed to, and are upgraded where appropriate.  Usually, we are checking machinery, getting things serviced, and scouting for new items that do the job better.
  1. BUILDING AND DECOMMISSIONING – Building and decommissioning is all about the bigger life design decisions.  We look at our accommodation, work, relationships etc into being, and decide what structural changes are necessary.  We accept temporary disruption in the interests of strategic improvement.
  1. SIGNING UP AND SIGNING OUT – Signing up and signing out is all about choosing life directions, and selecting the people and resources that best suit the flow.  We review our subscriptions, affiliations, and identity choices.

The key is to spend some time each week on each of these activities.  This ensures that we do not stagnate, and become tired and atrophied.

In normal life, we would spend more time on cleaning and maintaining, which support us day to day.  But we mustn’t ignore building and signing up, because we must still be strategic about life direction and design.  We mustn’t fear structural change.


Sometimes we will want to perform a strategic review.  This literally turns life upside down, as we begin with item 4 (what life directions we sign up to), and work through item 3 (building what’s needed for that direction), and then obtain, maintain and clean what is necessary to that end.


We all live according to routines.  The problem is, often those routines repeat and repeat, and we become neglectful of improvement.  To prevent this, we can ensure that we diarise time to:

  1. Clean and clear
  2. Maintain and replace
  3. Build and decommission
  4. Sign up and sign out

Normally, we will spend more time on 1 and 2, and less time on 3 and 4.  However, sometimes we will have a strategic review, and temporarily spend more time deciding on a new strategic direction, and less time cleaning and maintaining.