Computer Kaizen

computerI have a question for you.  If I asked you to locate a random file I knew you had on your computer how long would it take you to find it?  Less than 30 seconds?

What about the performance of your computer?  Is the Internet moving a little slower than it used to?

Perhaps it’s time for a computer 5S kaizen event.  Here are some ideas I, along with some of my friends, have come up with for such a task.

Sort (Seiri)

  1. Delete, yes delete, old files from your computer.  If you can’t stand to completely rid yourself of them back them up on an external hard drive or CD and label it well.  But get them off your computer as they are taking space which slows things down, clutters things up, etc.
  2. Uninstall old programs you don’t use anymore.  This is especially true for redundant programs (i.e. 3 that do the same thing).  These programs really “kill the registry” according to my computer whiz brother in law.
  3. Reduce the number of system tray items to only the most critical.
  4. Keep the final version of a file but delete the 21 revisions of the same file.  Again, if you want to keep them for some weird reason burn them onto the aforementioned CD and move on with your less cluttered life.
  5. Remove files (Word, PowerPoint, etc.) from your desktop.  My IT buds tell me this slows your computer down.  I can’t validate this but I take their word on it.  Get these files into nicely labeled folders (to be discussed soon).
  6. Remove shortcuts of rarely used applications from your desktop.  They just clutter things up.
  7. Clean all spyware and adware… they are nasty creatures and need to die.

Straighten (Seiton)

  1. Use the “My Documents” folder and store all files in it.  Save a shortcut to this folder onto your desktop making it easy to access.
  2. Assign a specific folder for all files.  This is a crucial step so think critically about the naming convention and how it is you will be able to find the files later.  Be careful to not overprocess here and have 18 subfolders to a master folder.
  3. Use the “align to grid” feature which keeps all files nice and straight.  It’s easier on the eyes this way.

Shine (Seiso)

  1. Clean your keyboard with a damp rag and if possible use compressed air to clean out the little bits of Pop Tart that fell in between the keys.
  2. Clean your monitor being careful to not scratch it or damage it.  Normally a damp rag works fine… but proceed with caution depending on the type of monitor you have.

Standardize (Seiketsu)

  1. Be consistent with placing files in their appropriate folder instead of being lazy and always saving to the desktop (a huge challenge for me).
  2. For critical documents ensure at least one person knows where and how to access them in case you are out of the office. You know sort of like an area map for your computer.
  3. Setup automatic virus and adware/spyware scans to run in the evening when you are asleep so you don’t waste time on this during the day.  Make sure automatic updates for these programs are enabled.

Sustain (Shitsuke)

  1. Do this computer 5S kaizen event with a colleague and then audit each other from time to time.  If want to get really nerdy about it set up an agreed schedule for audits and allow at least one unannounced audit per 6 months.  If you fail the audit (agree to the standards) you must buy the other person lunch, dinner, beer, etc.
  2. Set up a “sorting” schedule (perhaps every 3 months) in your calendar so you can repeat the items in the sort section above as needed.
  3. Set up a cleaning schedule (keyboard, monitor, etc.) in your calendar to remind yourself to wipe the grime off.
  4. As mentioned already, automate as many of the “cleaning” programs as possible.

Apply many of these same principles to your email which in some cases may be in worse shape than your hard drive!  Can you think of anything I missed?

6 Comments

  1. Kevan

    June 13, 2007 - 1:34 pm

    As you state email is my biggest issue. I cant seem to bring myself to delete anything. There must be some psychological help I can get to just press that damn shift+delete.

  2. Ron

    June 14, 2007 - 2:01 am

    I hear you Kevan. I am a pack rat myself… but just today I did a major “sort” job of some files. There is something nice about a good cleaning though… it makes me think more clear. Weird, maybe. But true.

  3. Mark Graban

    June 14, 2007 - 1:12 pm

    One case where there’s no need to delete… online mail systems like Yahoo or Gmail. There is infinite storage and Gmail, in particular, allows you to search and find files very quickly.

    My corporate email server space, however, is very small (grumble grumble).

    As my laptop fills up, I have a system for moving old client files (stuff I won’t access as often) to a portable hard drive, a good 5S principle, I think.

  4. Helen

    March 31, 2008 - 7:23 am

    Looking for menu directories for LAN to provide user friendly menu driven access to files and the organization of same. Any one know of anything?