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What is 5S and how can I use it at home?

What is 5S?


5S is a methodology of management consisting of five steps that are repeated in a manufacturing or industrial setting to ensure quality, limit waste, and maximize employee time and efforts. 5S was developed in Japan and was documented during a study of Japanese manufacturing methods in the late 1980’s. It was first heard of as one of the techniques that enabled what was then termed ‘Just in Time Manufacturing’.

What does all of that mean and how can I use it?

What it means is that somewhere along the way, managers figured out that mediocrity could no longer stand to be the norm. Improvements in quality, standardization and overall business practices were necessary to raise the bar across the industry.

What it means for you is a guideline to improving your own personal processes. Individuals can implement the same 5 S’s into their own lives and see results. Let’s take a look at the 5 S’s and how you can use them at home:

1. Sorting (Seiri )

Eliminate all unnecessary tools, parts, and instructions. Go through all tools, materials, and so forth in the plant and work area. Keep only essential items and eliminate what is not required, prioritizing things per requirements and keeping them in easily-accessible places. Everything else is stored or discarded.

At Home:
Keep only what you need and remove everything else. Clear the clutter and assign places for everything. Sort out your belongings and keep them where they should be.

2. Stabilizing or Straightening Out (Seiton)



There should be a place for everything and everything should be in its place. The place for each item should be clearly indicated.

At Home:
No difference here, there should be a place for everything and everything should be in its place. Define locations: The spatula in the utensils drawer, the lawnmower in the garage, the socket wrench in the bottom drawer of the toolbox.

3. Sweeping or Shining (Seiso)

Clean the workspace and all equipment, and keep it clean, tidy and organized. At the end of each shift, clean the work area and be sure everything is restored to its place. This makes it easy to know what goes where and ensures that everything is where it belongs. Spills, leaks, and other messes also then become a visual signal for equipment or process steps that need attention. A key point is that maintaining cleanliness should be part of the daily work – not an occasional activity initiated when things get too messy.

At Home:
Keeping your home, garage or workspace clean before and after each usage is important. Everything is in its place before you start a job, everything is in its place during a job, everything is in its place after you’ve cleaned up a job. Spills, accidents and the like are evidence that there is room for improvement in the organizational system or task performance. Cleaning up is always a part of the job.

4. Standardizing (Seiketsu)

Work practices should be consistent and standardized. All work stations for a particular job should be identical. All employees doing the same job should be able to work in any station with the same tools that are in the same location in every station. Everyone should know exactly what his or her responsibilities are for adhering to the first 3 S’s.

At Home:
Everyone in the house should know what the standards are and where to find whatever needs to be found.

5. Sustaining the Practice (Shitsuke)

Maintain and review standards. Once the previous 4 S’s have been established, they become the new way to operate. Maintain focus on this new way and do not allow a gradual decline back to the old ways. While thinking about the new way, also be thinking about yet better ways. When an issue arises such as a suggested improvement, a new way of working, a new tool or a new output requirement, review the first 4 S’s and make changes as appropriate.It should be made as a habit and be continually improved.

At Home:
Keep it up! Continue to refine the process or at very least keep with it. Consistency is key in industry and at home.


Start Today

You can begin implementing these 5S’s in your home today. Do you already run a similar system in your own home? Let us know how you stay organized in the comments below!

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