1% of a day: self improvement for slackers

Six post-it notes with drawings of various people on them

Dedicate 1% of each day to teach yourself something new.

This is the wonderful idea my friend Jason Borowicz shared with me and continues to share with others he meets.

He isn’t talking about implementing Kaizen in your personal life or promoting the aggregation of marginal gains. Instead, Jason suggests that one simply spends fourteen and a half minutes – that’s 1% of a day – intentionally reading, researching or studying a subject we would like to master or simply know more about. As someone who isn’t particularly goal driven and is easily distracted, this struck me as a great habit to adopt and embed. I have a couple of A4 notebooks with ‘1%’ written on the covers, where I have scrawled facts, learnings, ideas and thoughts as often as I have remembered to work on myself over the past few years.

I frequently draw on whiteboards and use simple graphics in my work so today, I decided to work on one of my current 1% topics: improving my drawing skills. I tried to find an old video that showed Dave Gray working with a group of people to help them draw simple figures. In searching for that video I found another, of a TEDx talk by Graham Shaw called ‘Why people believe they can’t draw – and how to prove they can’ that explores the same theme. Both Gray and Shaw make the point that while we all draw as children, as adults we often say we can’t draw, having lost confidence through teasing or criticism in our teenage years.

I enjoy drawing and doodling and was encouraged to do so from an early age by my Dad. Among other things, he was an engineer and amateur inventor, who almost always talked with a pencil in his hand. This was so he could illustrate whatever he was talking about on the nearest surface – the back of an envelope, a piece of scrap paper, one of many notepads lying around and, on more than one occasion, the table cloth.

So, grinning at memories of drawing with my Dad, I took fourteen and a half minutes to watch a YouTube clip while scribbling away under the watchful eye of his photo which sits on my desk. The cartoons above are the result of my dedicating 1% of today to getting better at drawing – what you would like to accomplish with 1% of each day? Leave a comment or drop me a line to let me know.