1% Better

I’ve been reading James Clear’s brilliant book, Atomic Habits.

In it, he tells the story of the British cycling team, who went from mediocrity to winning everything there was to win at the 2012 London Olympics.

And they did this, says Clear, by improving everything they could think of just by 1%.

They improved the cyclists’ sleeping habits, attitude, gear, clothes, nutrition, even bike storage came under scrutiny.

If you’re reading this and thinking – wasn’t there a doping scandal though – James covers this in the British Cycling Update on his website.

Doping scandals aside, the team were making a million and one improvements on a day-by-day basis, which allowed them to improve exponentially overall.

And you can too.

With small improvements every day, we can reap the benefits of what Team GB’s cycling coach, Dave Brailsford, calls The Aggregation of Marginal Gains.

When you’re writing, podcasting, making the thing you create every day, ask yourself this.

What can I do to make my system 1% better?

Recently, I’ve been trying to put this into practice on my podcast, Level Up Human.

We’re 70 episodes in now, and I’ve been working on the show notes. For the first 50 episodes, we didn’t write any. It wasn’t a huge thing in podcasting.

Then I noticed other shows released extensive show notes every episode. I’ve tried to improve ours by 1% for the last 10 episodes in a row.

Having done this, I also discovered it’s possible to feed your podcast into a Google speech to text translation service, in order to create an edited transcript of the show.

We now have extended show notes available to our Patreon community, and on our website, which are too long for our hosting service, Acast.

This allows our listeners to get a deeper understanding of the episode. Hopefully, it extends their enjoyment of the show.

This can be applied to multiple aspects of life. If you make a 1% improvement change every day, over time these build into systems that make it easier to succeed.

Clear says in his book,

“The more tasks you can handle without thinking, the more your brain is free to focus on other areas.” – James Clear

Building routines can lead to exponential growth and improvement.

It takes time, but after a while, these small changes build on one another to allow rapid improvement and growth.

Just don’t expect the returns to show up immediately. You have to keep at it!

I’ve been enjoying the Streaks app recently, which makes it easier to track small habits and build streaks to incorporate them into daily routines.

If you’re a science podcaster or love science podcasts, I run a new facebook group you might like to join.

What are you working on making 1% better?

2 thoughts on “1% Better

  1. There is a legal limit in the U.K. to how much interest anyone can charge for a financial loan: it is 0.8% per day. Doesn’t sound much, does it? But it grows compounded to a whopping 1,832.71% per year. So every £1 borrowed becomes a debt of £18.33 (and of course you are right because the reverse applies to the benefits of incremental compound change).
    I am less convinced by the streaks thing: in my language-learning programmes they use them and I find them burdensome, so now I deliberately break them early. Otherwise streaking to live can become living to streak.

    • I agree that a streak system applied by somebody else is the absolute worst. You have to want to do it yourself, and you have to create your own goals, obv! What language are you learning at the moment?

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