Home » The Progressive Professional… Perks for Quality Living – December 2013

The Progressive Professional… Perks for Quality Living – December 2013

The 5S SystemThe end of the year is always a great time to reflect on your successes and challenges in the past twelve months. Are you happy with your achievements? Did you conquer some of the challenges? Did you use the Tiny habits method to change some behaviors? Here’s another way to apply the Tiny Habits method…

I hear from many people that there are simply not enough hours in a day to do all they want to do. Their life and many commitments are controlling them rather than feeling they are in control. Often, people comment on how much time they spend looking for things – important documents, the checkbook, their keys, a favorite pair of earrings, etc. These comments have led me to explore how I can use some of the tools I teach in my home to “buy” me more time. And, this time of year is a great time to try one of the first tools – The Five S System.

While you may have heard of using this system for manufacturing, have you considered using it for your home and office? Applying The Five S System creates an environment where you never spend time looking for things – clutter is eliminated, everything has its place, cleanliness means things are always ready to use, and it is easy to maintain order. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Sort – take a hard look around the area, drawer or cabinet you are going to Five S – do you really need and use everything in it? What can you eliminate, give to others, or repurpose? Get rid of everything that’s not essential and, my personal rule is that if I haven’t used it in two years, it can go to a new home! Now is a great time of year to do this because the weather isn’t conducive to being outside and you may be looking for places for to store new items.

Step 2: Straighten/Set in Order – find a place for all essential items that makes sense for how you use them. For example, place your coffee cups in the cabinet near your coffee maker or your silverware in a drawer near your dishwasher. Check out this short video to see how you can organize the dishwasher to make emptying faster: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPkMK2q78qc For items that need to be replenished, create a way to know when to purchase them.

Step 3: Shine/Scrub – clean things up so you can tell if there are leaks and everything is ready to use when you go to use it. Having clean, uncluttered counter tops in the kitchen means you are always ready to begin cooking. In your office, consider keeping your desk clean or at least cleaning it up at the end of each day so you are ready for a quick start in the morning. Watch how quick you can make this happen! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPkMK2q78qc

Step 4: Standardize – put visual reminders in place. You’ll notice in the video as part of Step 2, that each of the cabinets has labels – these can go inside the edge of drawers and doors if you don’t want them showing. For your desk, you can also label things like your pen holder, drawer, etc. to remind you to put things back where they belong. This also helps when you have guests that are looking for things – everything is easy to find when it has a standard place.

Step 5: Sustain – keep it the way you found it! Follow your labels, clean it after using it, replenish when necessary. In my kitchen, I have a small white board mounted inside a cabinet so it is out of sight. When we need use the last spare of an item, we write it on the board. When leaving for the grocery, we take a picture of the board with our phone and have an instant grocery list. No more searching for paper and pencil, taking inventory, etc. After the shopping trip, we simply erase the white board and it is ready for the next entry.

While this may sound daunting, don’t forget that you can continually improve! No one gets everything right the first time but steady incremental changes constantly reduce the time to do things. By working your way through your home and office with these five steps, you can attack one area at a time and will find that you want to get on to the next when you see how simplifying and controlling your “stuff” really does make more time in the day! And, keep in mind that creating a Five S environment is especially helpful for encouraging children to return things to their proper place. Even if they can’t read, you can put pictures on shelves, drawers and cabinets to help them know where to put their toys and other things they use. Now, get started – pick an area to conquer and make it happen! Plan to do an area a week and by the end of 2014, you’ll have gained a couple of hours each day through your efficiencies! And who can’t use more hours in their day??

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