5S is one of the several lean manufacturing tools developed in Japan to improve work place efficiency through organization and cleanliness. 5S is all about keeping the workplace neat and eliminating wastes. What better place that need organization and cleanliness than our homes? At home we have a lot of time wastage and financial mismanagements going on that sometimes we are overwhelmed and we decide to settle. Most of the time we use 5S in the workplace, especially in manufacturing but have you ever paused and thought just how useful a tool it could be at home? What of having a lean home environment?
Well it is very much possible. Let’s look at each of the 5S and how we can apply them in our home environments.
1. Sort (Seiri) – This is the first step and it is all about eliminating all the unnecessary things and keeping only that which is needed. At home there are a lot of things we hold on to that need to have been rid of yesterday. In our homes some of the elements to reduce or eliminate include poor financial management, unnecessary television shows, poor eating habits, laziness, poor storage methods just to mention a few. Eliminate whatever it is that you consider as junk during this stage. Undertake a major cleaning and reorganize those activities that do not add value to your life.
2. Set in Order (Seiton) – “A place for everything and everything in its place.”Get committed to establish a neat layout for storage in your place. After sorting out and eliminating what you do not need, then embark on replacing some bad habits with better ones. For example decide to store everything in its rightfully place and even label some. Make a decision to eat home more frequently instead of eating out. This stage aims at eliminating search time and unnecessary spending.
3. Shine (Seiso) – This step ensures keeping things tidy and organized. Just like every household is different so does the cleaning methods too. Establish a cleaning method that is commensurate with your household needs. What works for my house will probably not work for yours and vice versa. But whatever you decide on, involve everyone, including children. This is the stage where you need to answer the question, what is it you want to achieve as a family? First ensure all your goals are clear cut, shine them and align them to your everyday activities. All this is to achieve zero waste and zero dirt.
4. Standardize (Seiketsu) – This S calls for maintaining the above three .Strict enforcement of rules here won’t work. Just like in the workplace, you have to come up with better, innovative, and visible management methods. The challenge comes when you have to rid of habits a long time. If you are going to teach an old dog new habit, then you have to go about it not only with a sober mind, but also smartly and innovatively. You can introduce recognition and reward methods. When somebody does something good, notice, praise and /or reward. You be the judge which system to use if not all. Along the way when people feel appreciated they feel incredibly satisfied and this gives them motivation to go on. Another way is to lead by example. This is the case of preaching water and drinking the very same water.
5. Sustain (Shitsuke) – This is the last and the most difficult S to achieve but the most beneficial stage of the 5S process. This is the stage to ensure that all the small changes you made are permanent by establishing procedures of orderliness and neatness. To be honest this stage cannot be implemented by word of mouth. Because if you keep telling people to do things and they keep saying they forgot well there is only so much you can achieve. To hack this last S it’s better to get what works for your house best for the 5S to have longevity. For goals you can decide to have a checklist and do a daily, weekly, or monthly review. For home cleaning come up with a role for everyone living in the house. It doesn’t matter how small the role is, after all 5S is all about small comprehensive and constant changes that make overall big changes! Another thing you can decide to create an atmosphere of friendly competition. If you have kids this will even be more fun, kids love to compete. Decide on a reward system and have fun practicing the 5Ss.
Why 5S your home?
1. It allows you to see and solve problems faster.
2. If everything in your household is in its place and there is a place for everything you will be able to notice when something without a place arises. It could be a behaviour change in your child or even yourself.
3. It exposes wastes and makes it easier to eliminate to increase productivity.
4. It improves safety in the home.
Remember for 5S to succeed, there should be commitment and visible support for the program for top management, which in this case is whoever is in charge of the household.