Spring Cleaning: Tackling Clutter

Do you struggle keeping your house tidy? Can’t blame you, so do I.  I love a system. I create them with everything I do. Years of architecture and design school have trained me to do just that.  So, I will let you in into a magic tool that will turn your life around: Lean 5S’s.

The Lean 5S’s? is a methodology inspired by Japanese minimalism. Luckily this method works for workplaces and homes as well. We are aiming for you to feel that heavenly sensation of accomplishment when you turn around to that space you were tackling and see it neat and clean.

Need an example? Take a kitchen pantry and apply the 5S theory:

SORT. (Seiri). Take everything out. Do not cheat. Use your kitchen table or counter and make three distinctive areas for sorting: Toss, Keep, Give Away. Toss expired or stale items. Set aside the ones you know you use frequently. Finally, put any giveaway items inside a reusable bag and take them to your nearest elementary food drive or food bank.

STRAIGHTEN. (Seiton) Now, the only items that should be visible are the keepers. Make three groups based on frequency of use. Sort them by category inside of their groups: pasta items, grains, cans (by sizes), cereal boxes, etc.

SHINE. (Seiso) Before arranging your items back on the shelves scrub them down, give them a good wipe.  Consider additional shelving or lighting to improve access and visibility to your most used items. behold the space.

STANDARDIZE. (Seiketsu) Lets think on shelf “real estate value”. The shelf at eye sight, the one that is the most comfortable to reach to, should house the items you use the most. Place your first group (previously straightened) and arrange according to usage amount. The top shelf should have things like: plastic cups, plates and utensils for parties, extra paper napkins to refill a napkin holder, a clear bin with a candy stash, etc. Congratulate yourself, you have now created a standardized shelf system for your pantry goods!

SUSTAIN. (Shitsuke). Call your family to gather in front of your new pantry system. Explain where things go and why. You may want to put some labels on the edge of the shelves with group names, so everyone understands where to put the bags of chips back. Or when someone asks: “Where’s the extra ketchup” your answer will be: “In Its place”. Even better, when the groceries are unpacked there will be a system in place to keep things tidy, organized and efficient.

Next up: The Garage!