Most of us have spent the majority of this year stuck in our homes, working virtually and only going out for essential needs. Tables, normally used for dining, now double as desktops, dishes are piling up in the sink, and the trash always seems to need taking out.
During this pandemic, the crossover of our business and our personal lives has caused more than the normal amount of clutter in our homes. However, what is all this doing to our minds? Our brains prefer order and structure. These constant visual reminders of disorganization and mess are causing our stress levels to rise, which is affecting our physical and mental health.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the warning signs that stress might be affecting us include the following:
• Muscle tension or pain
• Upset stomach
• Sleep problems
With the pandemic, politics, riots, and the holidays, we have enough to worry about. It is time to do something about your life — the only part we can exert control over.
5S is a “lean workplace” organization method that follows five Japanese steps: seiri (整理) “to sort,” seiton (整頓) “to set in order,” seisō (清掃) “to shine,” seiketsu (清潔) “to standardize,” and shitsuke (躾) “to sustain.” This “lean” methodology helps companies organize for better efficiency and effectiveness and can be used in your life as well.
Here are the steps to apply 5S to your life.
Dedicate some time to sorting through everything in your house and doing what they call “red-tagging.” You do not have to use the physical tags, but the concept is the same. Dedicate a day to each cluttered room in your house. Review every item in that room (whether in drawers, cabinets, closets, or desks) and make a red tag determination. You should either:
• Leave the item where it is.
• Relocate the item to where it belongs.
• Dispose of the item by throwing it out.
• Recycle the item and either make money from it or give it away.
If you are unsure what to do with an item, you can put it in a holding area. An offsite storage place is good for this. Once you have completed sorting your entire house, go back to your holding area and make a final red tag determination on each item.
Now that you have gone through everything in your house, it is time to ensure that all items left are organized, and each item has a designated place. Organize all the items left in each room in a logical way, so they make it easier for you to access and use the items.
• In the kitchen, make it easy to access your typically used spices.
• In your closet, place commonly used clothes near the door.
• In your bathroom, strategically place regularly used items easily within reach.
The key quote, typically related to 5S, actually came from Benjamin Franklin and was, “A place for everything, everything in its place.”
Now that you have sorted and set everything in order, it is time to clean everything and then set a routine in place to keep everything clean. This involves routine tasks such as vacuuming, mopping, and dusting. However, it also involves recurring maintenance activities such as changing out batteries in smoke alarms and remotes, updating clocks on appliances, and replacing furnace filters.
Now that you have everything uncluttered and clean, establish a documented routine to keep it that way. If you have kids, take a picture of their room, closets, cabinets, and drawers, and put them in a small book. You can do the same for the other rooms in your house. Set a schedule of shine activities and routine 5S reviews — once a quarter is usually good enough. Make sure you inspect rooms using the standards you set.
Sustaining over time is probably the hardest task with 5S. But recognizing your continued success and making a game or competition out of it helps. Give your kids extra allowances or buy small gifts if rooms are kept clean. Go out somewhere nice to eat as a celebration if the whole house is kept up to standard. Perfection seldom happens, but it should be easier and easier to keep everything in line every quarter.
With just a little dedicated effort, you can declutter your life and reduce a lot of unwanted stress on your whole family. Follow these proven lean steps to a brighter future in 2022.
This article has been reprinted with permission from John Knotts’ Forbes page.