Learn from this "Home 5S" Tip


Household: De-Clutter with a Six-Month “Maybe Box”

The site “lifehacker” is one of my favorite blogs. While not about “Lean” per se, there's often a great deal of overlap between personal productivity and Lean concepts.

In the post I've linked to above talks about de-cluttering the house, which is reminiscent of the early stages of a factory's “5S” initiatives (or a hospital's), where you go through a workspace and identify items that are broken, outdated, obsolete, or not needed. These items can be removed — trashed, repurposed, or donated — thus freeing up space for more productive uses, reducing waste.

It's important to recognize that this “spring cleaning” aspect of 5S is really just part of the overall equation of Sort, Store, Shine, Standardized, and Sustain. Spring cleaning really focuses on the first 3. We don't want 5S to just be a one-time or annual activity.

So the lesson from Lifehacker is a good one — for work or home. Don't immediately throw all items into the trash. Some items are obviously trashable, but some items might be of questionable value. Some caution might be in order, as the post says:

…the Zen Habits blog suggests creating a “Maybe” box, stashing non-dire items in there, and …

Then store the box somewhere hidden, out of the way. Put a note on your calendar six months from now to look in the box. Then pull it out, six months later, and see if it's anything you really needed. Usually, you can just dump the whole box, because you never needed that stuff.

Good advice! In a workplace, we often set up a “Red Tag area” or a “boneyard” where questionable items can be set aside. I often do this for just a week or two, not necessarily six months. This time frame is a “buffer” to make sure everybody has a chance to look to see if items can really be disposed of without harming operations. The night shifts and weekend shifts deserve a chance to review items. This way, decisions are not made exclusively by the day shift or those who happened to be around while the 5S sweep was taking place.

Subscribe via RSS | Lean Blog Main Page | Podcast | Twitter @MarkGraban

Please check out my main blog page at www.leanblog.org

The RSS feed content you are reading is copyrighted by the author, Mark Graban.

, , , on the author's copyright.


Get New Posts Sent To You

Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

  1. Anonymous says

    Amen! If we all did this (5S at home) we would have smaller, cleaner homes. When I used lean in interior design, I told my clients if you buy a 4,500 sq ft house you will fill it. And if you buy a 2,500 you will fill it. Often with unnecessary stuff. What happened to living within our means instead of beyond? Perhaps the mortgage crisis woudn’t be as bad at the moment…

  2. Joe says

    Great example on the power of 5S in the home. This is just one of the many lean tools that can improve the effectiveness of activities at home. .

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.