5S, offices, sustainablity, and other key words

We have lived in seven different houses and apartments. It seems like we always have one room that is the gathering place for all the things we don’t know what to do with. Right now that room is the office which is also Eden’s room. It needed to be cleaned and organized. Really, the room is basically unusable.

There is a printer on top of the shelves. It’s really easy to get to when loading paper.

So, we got to it:

We sorted, got rid of a bunch of stuff, found places for things, not perfect, but much better!

The problem is that a couple months later the room is back to its old self as a holding place for things we don’t know what to do with. We need a new plan, something that will help us get things in order, but also maintain that order.


I took this picture a few hours ago. Not as bad as the room started, but starting to get filled with stuff again!


In manufacturing, there is an idea called 5S Methodology. 5S is a way of putting things in order and maintaining that order. It has five parts:

The first two are pretty obvious. Sort and Set in Order. In Sort we get rid of unneeded things. Think going though your closet to get rid of clothes you don’t need anymore. In Set in Order we decide where things should go and give them a place. We add labels so we know where things go. These two steps are pretty straightforward and satisfying. It’s nice to clean everything up and put things in place. The problem is that just like our office/nursery it takes about 2 days for all the work to be undone when we have some random stuff we can’t figure out where to store.

We missed the last 3 Ss. A lot of people do. Shine, Standardize and Sustain are about how we maintain the order created in Sort and Set in Order. This is the hard part. When we clean the office again, how will we make sure that we do a little bit of tidying up regularly? How will we make sure that Beth and I both organize things in the same way? And how will we keep ourselves accountable for maintaining that organization? For some people, this all comes naturally. Not for us, so we need to learn from industries that have figured this out through 5s and develop a system that works for us. This one is a work in progress, but I am pretty sure if we get one of these really ugly posters and put it up in our living room it will help.

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