Lean Office

How to Get Your Time Back

By Jon Miller Published on May 29th, 2007

They say time is the only resource you can’t get any more of. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get your time back? All of that time that was lost, wasted or simply misplaced – if we could only get it back, we would promise spend it more wisely this time…
How to get your time back? The conventional wisdom is that trapped in our four dimensional universe, we can’t. But I’m of a different mind. Without getting into a lot of details at the quantum level, probability, and causality, we can confidently say that all of us are wasting time, and will continue to waste time to the end of our days. But we can get back much of this time that the universe is designed to help us lose. Get your time back… from the future!
How? Dan Markowitz over at Time Back Management shares with us better ways to work. Among these ideas are standard work as the flywheel of society, building on ideas of psychologist William James. He points out that making tasks routine frees up the individual to think, to be creative, a point we can’t stress enough to those who claim standards inhibit creativity.
Some people add the 8th waste to the 7 types of waste, calling it waste of human creativity. The absence of standards causes variation (mura) which leads to workarounds and overburden (muri) and ultimately waste (muda) of time and effort. Creativity in the absence of standards is muda, perhaps an “overproduction of ideas”, if you will. Since thought consumes time and energy, it is not free, despite what some have claim. So creativity should be based on standards. This is one way to get your time back.
One type of standard for the workplace and the materials, equipment and data within it is something called 5S. Dan Markowitz illustrates office 5S mind as well as how 5S applies to data and the time wasted retrieving cluttered data. It is simple yet staggering how much of our time is wasted searching, sorting, arranging. Do 5S and get your time back!
Other than death and taxes, about the only thing certain is that we will waste (lose) time. Observe your work and time it. Take away the wasted steps and define the best of the current method as standard work. Then organize all aspects of your workplace and data environment to support this through 5S. Then unleash your creativity to improve continuously, refining this standard.
How to get your time back? Apply Lean principles such as standard work and 5S to your work. Think of it as reaching into the future and getting back the time that you would otherwise lose.

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