5S method: Improve personal organization to improve efficiency with low effort
5S method: Improve personal organization to improve efficiency with low effort
12 July 2022 - Author : - Categories : Blog

5S method: Improve personal organization to improve efficiency with low effort


Are you able to find the report of the last project kick-off meeting you attended in less than 10 seconds?

Do you often search through all the icons on your desktop or taskbar?

Do you have multiple applications that do the same thing?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you will probably learn some useful things in this article.

When I first joined 1-more-thing, some of our team members were complaining that they couldn’t find the right document quickly and were getting lost in the maze of their folder trees. Their computer desktops were cluttered with useful but rarely used applications. A common problem for almost everyone was the list of icons in the different versions of FileMaker, which until version 19 were visually similar or identical. So together we experimented with the application of methods I used to use in quality management.

Work organization and rationalization methods have been used in industry for more than 70 years. The Japanese were pioneers in the design and application of these tools. They came up with simple new tools to improve work efficiency without losing quality. One of my favorite Japanese methods is the 5S method, which can easily be used to improve the organization of a computer workstation.

The 5S is a method that aims to continuously improve the organization of a workspace.

It was designed to help workers minimize clutter, organize tools, prevent clutter and encourage efforts to maintain tidiness. The 5S method takes its name from the first letter of the 5 principles:

  1. Seiri, which means “remove what is unnecessary” ;
  2. Seiton, which means “to choose a place for everything”;
  3. Seiso, which means “to make shine”;
  4. Seiketsu, which means “to standardize the rules”;
  5. Shitsuke, which means “check the results and improve the rules”;

This method has been shown to improve the working conditions and well-being of workers. It also reduces the consumption of time and energy to find each thing and decreases the risk of error. Finally, it has increased the quality of production. Indeed, one can easily imagine that a clean and orderly workshop is a better place to do a proper job than a dirty and messy one. Creating certain rules helps to maintain order and also makes it easy for other people to find something. This results in better, faster production with fewer mistakes.

So how do you apply this to the organization of your computer workstation?

First, let’s get to the first S: Seiri.

Set aside a time to clean up your computer desktops. The main goal is to keep only the tools you need on your desktop and taskbar every day. Delete unused and temporary files and folders. If you are used to having things on your desktop (I mean the physical desktop), put away anything you don’t need on a daily basis.

Let’s continue with the second S: Seiton.

Among the things you removed during the cleaning step, there are bound to be items that are sometimes useful and need to be easily found. The purpose of this step is to create a place for every other useful file, folder and icon. For example, you can keep program icons in a dedicated folder on your taskbar or desktop: a single folder for all other programs. For your FileMaker icons, you can also create a dedicated folder to keep all older versions. You can change the icons to differentiate them easily. Just keep the version of FileMaker you use daily on your taskbar. To organize all folders and files, you can use the “document” folder on your computer.

The next step is Seiso…

just remove the dust and dirt from your screen, mouse and keyboard to go to the next step. You can also make your computer desktop look nice with a nice wallpaper!

Seiketsu is the logical continuation of Seiton and asks you to create your own organization rules.

On your computer, it will be a matter of finding a way to organize all your folders and files. For example, one folder for each project, and within each project, one folder for agendas and meeting minutes, another folder for technical documents, another for specifications and user interface templates… Find your own rules, the most important thing is that you are comfortable with them, and that you can quickly find everything you need.

Finally, Shistuke asks you to pause regularly and observe your workspace:

Is it still clean and organized? Have you followed your rules? If the answer is no, you need to remind yourself of the rules and reapply them. The rules can be adjusted as your organization improves


Before Seiri


After Shitsuke

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