How to use Lean 5S to become more organized, efficient, and productive


The Lean 5S methodology — originally developed in Japan as a system of visual management for the factory floor — may be applied in just about any environment, from the office to electronic filing systems or even to home organization. The process is based largely on common sense. Implementing a 5S program as a part of daily work may improve efficiency and productivity by removing waste and non-value added work.

Seiri (sort): Sort through everything. Get rid of anything that is broken, never used, outdated, or not needed. Keep only what is necessary. Sell, donate or throw out anything that isn't needed.

Seiton (set in order): Organize and put away everything where it will be most efficient. Put frequently used items near the place they will be used. Store items used for the same task together. It should be easy to get what you need with as little effort as possible.

Seiso (shine): Do a thorough, deep cleaning of the area. Make it spotless.

Seiketsu (standardize): Develop procedures for maintaining the now clean and orderly environment. Schedule time for putting things back in their place and cleaning up. Create visual controls, such as labels or paint outlines, so everyone knows where things belong and may easily see when something is missing.

Shitsuke (sustain): Once the first 4 S's have been accomplished, the working environment in the state of orderliness that you have achieved. If it is not closely monitored, clutter and disorder will return. For 5S to be successful, it must become habit.

Tips & Warnings

  • The term 5S is derived from 5 Japanese terms translated roughly into 5 English words all beginning with the letter "S".

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