Guest AuthorPrabodh Sirur

Nano-Kaizen: A personal breakthrough

By | Prabodh Sirur | Vice President – HR at Manipal Technologies Ltd. 

The breakthrough that I am sharing with you could become a Mantra for life for you. Not joking.

This was triggered after my 5-hour long ‘knowledge nibbling’ last week. Let me tell you the whole story in an organized manner –

  • Details of my 5-hour web-surfing
  • My feelings after the surfing
  • The solution – Nano-Kaizens


Mindless unplanned surfing

My 5-hour surfing travel was similar to a monkey jumping back and forth from branch to branch – LinkedIn, YouTube, Wikipedia, WhatsApp, Facebook, emails, News alerts …. to name a few.

There was an inspirational post on LinkedIn a week ago. This post was the trigger for this journey. The post was about one Kinjal Singh, a feisty young IAS officer, who fought a long legal battle to bring her father’s killer to book. Curious to know more about her life, I moved from LinkedIn to YouTube. I found some 600 plus videos about her. I watched a few of these videos.

Then I found a video – how to succeed in IAS (Indian Administrative Service) examination. It was a half an hour interview with a candidate who had topped an IAS exam.

The clock was ticking but my knowledge gathering activity continued.

Then I moved to Wikipedia to read about IAS. At the end of this Wikipedia page, there was a list of some 15-20 notable IAS officers. I started reading about their lives.

I went back to the web browser to find more names of famous IAS officers; I got to know about one B Chandrakala, a fiery IAS officer fighting against corruption in her departments. Naturally, my next move was to go to YouTube to B Chandrakala’s daring acts. There were 21,900 videos about her. I started watching some of them.

In between, there were pings from WhatsApp and from Facebook. I went through them and responded to some. There were some email alerts too that I had to attend to. There were also alerts from some news apps. I had to read them and keep myself updated to avoid being called an ignoramus in social meetings.

I was totally engrossed, uninterrupted. When I looked at the clock, it was 2 a.m. I was ‘busy’ for 5 hours. I must have watched at least 50 videos and read some 30 plus articles during this journey.

I pulled myself from this ‘gatherer’ exercise and headed for bed, fully aware that my day is going to be spoilt because of lack of sleep.

Picture of the web-journey


My feeling after this web-travel

My body ached; I felt a bit dehydrated too. This 5-hour torture bothered me the whole of next day. What was the use of the information that I was collecting? I was never going to be an IAS officer.

The keywords, from all the readings, printed on my brain looked something like this –

Didn’t I already know all this?? Hasn’t this been told to me umpteen times by parents, teachers, bosses, spouse ….?

Was it because I didn’t know what to do with the time at hand? That was worse. Why did I have to waste time for something that was NOT what I am supposed to spend time on?

In spite of all this internal conversation, I was pretty sure that I was going to repeat this pattern again and again.

I had to find a way out to fight a feeling of guilt. I had to find a way to convert such habit into something fruitful.

How about creating an activity sandwich? How about inserting a slice of an activity in between, an activity that I have been postponing all the time? Let me call this positive slice as a nano-Kaizen activity.

The rules of my nano-Kaizens were simple:

  1. Do what you like for ten minutes
  2. Stop for a minute to do an activity that will improve you in some way (nano-Kaizen)
  3. Repeat 1 and 2 till you are bored to death or you are too exhausted to do anything further

(Kaizen is a Japanese word. Kai = Change, Zen = Good)


My first nao-kaizen experience

This is how my new journey happened the next day.

I put a timer of ten minutes before I started my ‘knowledge nibbling’. As soon as the timer went off, I stopped reading, got up to do some activity for one minute.


My first nano-Kaizen was a doing crunches for a minute. I could do ten crunches.

As soon as I finished this, I went back to my next ten-minute-block of web-surfing. Once again when the timer went off, I did ten more crunches. I repeated this for the third time too.

I had never done thirty crunches in a day ever. So even though what I was reading was nothing great, these thirty crunches were a milestone in my life. Now I was sure, whether I gained knowledge or not, this kind of surfing was going to build my six-packs pretty soon!

After this, I stopped at the next decision box – Either I had to stop any further reading to avoid the pain of the next set of crunches or find some other nano-Kaizen.

I let loose my imagination and identified many nano-Kaizens. Describing some of them here.


I found that dusting the furniture was a good nano-Kaizen target. It was a small contribution from my side to my home that I always avoided under the pretext that I was not cut out for such tasks. But now I was excited to perform this. I completed all the dusting in three sets of nano-Kaizens.

My better half was awestruck by my gesture.

Cleaning a drawer was one more nano-Kaizen.


I found that I could do many Indian breathing exercises as part of nano-Kaizen.

These nano-Kaizens opened up new possibilities for me of being an acclaimed Guru in not too distant future.


Some yoga postures got my attention and I added them to my list of nano-Kaizens.

It was amazing!

I was doing so many things by sandwiching nano-Kaizens in between my web-surfing.


You won’t believe, my stance on what to read changed. I started evaluating the value of every reading to check if it was worth the effort.

With this nano-Kaizen rule in place, my guilt of reading random things vanished altogether.

Are you with me on this journey?



Whenever I create an article, I want to write something about Impressionism. The Impressionist art movement is my source of inspiration. It reminds me to think about innovation and about challenging the status quo.

Impressionism (1860-1890) is a 19th-century art movement. It was started by painters to challenge the then existing style of painting. They re-defined painting as an impression of one’s mind rather than what is seen by the eye. They turned the artistic establishment upside down with their revolutionary new approach to painting.

Today I want to remember Konstantin Korovin (1861-1939), a Russian impressionist. Korovin was not only a painter but a stage designer and a writer.

This painting called Beach at Dieppe was painted in 1890. This painting is now in Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow. I really loved the great effects created using only half a dozen colour. Loved the broad brush strokes of the sand.

Photo credit – Wikiart


Reprinted with permission & originally published by Prabodh at

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