For those of you who implement Lean principles in your office, you’ll know the importance of the 5S Organizing aspect of Lean Daily Management. 5S is an organizing method that allows you to maintain order and eliminate waste in the workplace by reviewing office items and minimizing clutter.
The 5 S’s are Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain. For more information on 5S and how it can help you, check out our Business Services: 5S Lean Office page on the subject. This method can be applied virtually anywhere.
This month, we are going to show you how to apply the 5S’s over the course of five days. Of course, you can complete them all in one day or two (we lovingly refer to this as the Kamikaze Method. You’ll see why if you try it!). We hope you enjoy.
Day 1 of 5S Organizing Challenge: Sort
To begin the 5S Process, you must first sort through what you have in the space. To begin, you should have handy the following items:
- Garbage bags for sorting recycling and donations
- Cardboard boxes for sorting small items
- Baker Boxes for sorting files
- Post its
- A box cutter
- A rolling cart if you have one available
- A large surface area, like a folding table, if you have one available
- Sturdy shoes
Once you have all of the necessary items assembled, you are ready to begin sorting. Set up your large table nearby, preferably in a separate area from the room you are working in. We refer to this as a “staging area”, where you can place items to be sorted before you begin. Removing the item from its usual location also helps us to regard it with a more critical eye.
Remove all items from the office area to the staging area. This includes all desktop thingamebobs, files from your desk drawer, and whatever is hiding under the desk. You may choose to sort office items in batches; that is fine too. The goal is to move everything out of each area so that you can have access to clean the area and put back only what serves you. The rolling cart may come in handy here, since it allows you to shuffle things more easily.
As you review items, corral them into categories such as “Pass along to co-workers”, “donate”, “take home”, “shred”, “recycle” and “trash”. Label your categories with the post-its and tape to allow for clear distinctions and avoid mix-ups.
Continue this process until you have reviewed every inch of your office. Before heading home, remove the take home items, recycling, trash and shredding, and deliver items to your co-workers. Take donations to your car to drop on the way home. Your office will likely look like a huge mess, but don’t worry! As we like to say, it always gets worse before it gets better.