5S: The Antidote to Clutter

5S is an effective approach to managing the work through the elimination of waste.

Practitioners of 5S have discovered that it can be applied in contexts far removed from its origins in car manufacture. Indeed, it works any place where you want to get results: in your office,  your home, in cyberspace or even in your own head.

Know The Practices of 5S

Originally developed in the context of the Japanese motor industry, 5S is named for the Japanese words that describe its 5 core practices:

  1. Seiri (整理) Tidiness, Organization (Sort / Clear-out and Classify)
  2. Seiton (整頓) Orderliness (Straighten or Systematize / Configure)
  3. Seiso (清掃) Cleanliness (Shine / Clean and Check)
  4. Seiketsu (清潔) Standards (Systematize or Standardize / Conformity)
  5. Shitsuke (躾) Discipline (Sustain / Custom and Practice)

See The Benefits of 5S

Some of overall benefits of the 5S approach are:

  • Greater efficiency in achieving goals
  • Greater readiness for new tasks
  • Fewer hazards
  • Less spending on replacing lost or damaged items
  • Less stress
  • Less waste
  • Greater self-esteem
  • More space

Understand Seiri: Tidiness

The Practice of Seiri

Sort through everything in the workplace / home:

  • Keep the essential.
  • Store the useful.
  • Discard everything else.

Discarding should be without regret, for everything that is left should promote productivity.

A technique often used in the context of Seiri is “Red Tagging”. Rather than removing items that don’t belong immediately, a red tag is immediately placed on items that need to be removed. The advantage of this is that work needn’t stop to deal with misplaced items – they can be dealt with later. Tagged items may be temporarily removed to a holding area, and genuinely redundant items can be disposed of.

The Benefits of Seiri

  • Fewer hazards
  • Less clutter to interfere with productive work
  • Simplification of tasks
  • Effective use of space
  • Careful purchasing of items
  • Save money on storage

Understand Seiton:  Orderliness

The Practice of Seiton

A place for everything & everything in its place.

Organise and design your home / workplace to promote efficiency. Arrange tools and materials in assigned places where they can be accessed quickly, thus promoting work flow.

  • Keep tools and equipment where they will be used.
  • Order items to eliminate ‘extra motion’.
  • Allocate a location to each item.
  • Label each location to identify what is kept there.

The Benefits of Seiton

  • Good work-flow -> Achievement.
  • Things can be found -> Less frustration.

Understand Seiso: Cleanliness

The Practice of Seiso

Keep your home / workplace clean as well as neat.
See your environment workplace through the eyes of a visitor: keeping a high standard of cleanliness to make a good impression.

  • Maintain cleanliness daily, not just occasionally.
  • Make cleanliness a part of the work, not an extra.
  • Cleaning is done by everyone.
  • No area should be missed.

The Benefits of Seiso

  • A good impression
  • Better health
  • A better quality of life
  • Improved self-esteem

Understand Seiketsu: Standards

The Practice of Seiketsu

  • Operate consistently.
  • Everyone must know their responsibilities.
  • Use your five senses:
    • Make it easy to spot anomalies.
    • Detect abnormalities and correct them immediately.

Examples of using senses (sometimes called “Visual Management”):

  • Colour-coding
  • Outlining tools on a tool board

The Benefits of Seiketsu

  • You can always find what you’re looking for
  • You can easily see when things are out of place

Understand Shitsuke: Discipline

The Practice of  Shitsuke

Finally, maintain standards. Learn not to need reminding about the 5S way.

  • Make 5S’s a way of life.
  • Focus on the 5S way.
  • Eliminate bad habits.

The Benefits of  Shitsuke

  • No gradual decline back to the previous way of operating.
  • You don’t need to be reminded to practice 5S.

Further Reading