Often we are so busy trying to work out how to make our businesses better we forget to be innovative in the rest of our lives.
When I speak to businesses about innovation I ask people to examine every single thing that they do at work and ask ‘could there be a way of doing this better?’
It’s just as important to go through this process in the non-work part of your life. That is, to periodically think about everything you are doing in your life and ask if there are opportunities to improve things.
Let me give you an example. About four years ago I did a bit of an audit of my life and reached two conclusions. One, I was watching too much TV, and two, one thing I really wanted to do was to write a novel for children. So then I thought about where I might be able to find the time to write a novel and the answer was obvious. Stop watching TV. So I made myself a rule. Don’t ever, ever, ever watch TV (except on Friday nights when I allowed myself to watch the footy).
I figured it would be a lot easier to stick to 1 simple rule like ‘Don’t watch TV’ than it would be to try to reduce the amount of TV I watched. If I tried to reduce the amount of TV I watched, it would mean that every single night I would have to go through a negotiation with myself about how much, if any, TV I would watch. And because I’m weak-willed, I would probably end up not changing things much at all. But if I made 1 simple rule –no TV – then it would be easy. I wouldn’t have to think about it. I wouldn’t have to have strong will-power. I’d just have to obey the rule. (Plus, I’d get to act all superior when people were talking about ‘The Voice’ and say, ‘Oh I don’t watch TV’).
So for the next couple of years, after the kids had gone to bed, I spent an hour or so writing the book, instead of watching TV. And three months ago ‘The Adventures of Sir Roderick the not-very-Brave’ was published.
The starting point for doing that was deciding to take a bit of time to look at the life I was living, and to ask if the was any way I could make it better. And if you decide you want to do that, then why not examine every aspect of your life – your work/life balance, your hobbies, the things you would like to spend more time doing, the things you would like to spend less time doing, how much sleep you get, what you do in the train to work in the morning, how much exercise you get, and what you eat and drink. You can even examine the important relationships in your life and ask how you might be able to improve them.
I hope people regularly try to be innovative in their businesses. But I also hope they regularly try to be innovative in their lives.