5S – For Life & For Business

Have you ever heard of the 5 S’s? The five S’s stand for steps that you can use to organize various elements of your life. Originating from lean manufacturing principles, and used by businesses and assembly lines, this process can be applied to nearly any organizational task. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to look at how you can use this system to organize one or more cluttered spaces in your house. As you read through, think about how a similar system could be implemented in other aspects of your home and/or work life.

Step 1 – Sort

The first S stands for “sort” and kicks off your organizational journey. For sorting, your main goal is to take everything out of the cluttered space and to sort it into categories before replacing or moving anything. One way to complete this step is by using a 3 bin (or bag) system. Place the bins near the room you’re working with, and make one for things to throw away, one for things to store, and one for things to keep handy/easily accessible. Quickly sort everything in the room into one of these three bins, and go with your gut feeling as you pick up an item.

Step 2 – Set In Order

Now that you’ve got things sorted, make sure things are placed back in an order that makes sense. Because you will often find yourself throwing out a lot of junk, you will usually find some newfound space for the items you are putting back. For storage items, keep them organized and in bins that make sense for when you do need to access them. For items that are being put back in a room, work from back to front, placing items you won’t need as often in the harder to reach spaces.

Step 3 – Shine

Take pride in your work! This next step involves cleaning, dusting, shining and beautifying your newly organized room. Don’t just stop at re-organizing, make it look like new. You’ll love how things start to come together; your efforts are fully realized when a room shines like the day you moved in!

Step 4 – Standardize

This step helps ensure that your items don’t find their way back into a cluttered state. Make sure you find appropriate spaces for the items you’re going to store – use pegboards to organize garage tools and make use of vertical space. Come up with a color-coding system or something similar for use with your storage bins, making it easy to find anything you need. When you’re done using an item from a storage bin, put it back immediately.

Step 5 – Sustain

Keep the ball rolling! Make a schedule of when you will clean different rooms, or re-evaluate rooms you’ve already worked on. The time may come when items that were once used move to storage, and items you don’t find yourself actually ever retrieving from storage might just need to be tossed out. While the first three steps implement the main, hard work of the 5S system, the last two help you to make sure your efforts don’t go to waste!

Start thinking about other aspects of your life you could apply this system to. How about your car? Your office/desk? Come up with a few of your own and add them to your “sustain” schedule!

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