Three More Ways to Increase Personal Productivity through 5S

The discipline of 5S increases personal productivity by making your work environment simpler, more structured, and safer. Much of the time that is saved is time not spent looking for things by being able to see right away whether everything you need to be productive is ready or not.
There is a good summary of 5S on The Thinking Blog titled getting things done with the 5S philosophy.
As a bonus, there is free 5S wallpaper. Click one of the images below for the free 5S wall paper at The Thinking Blog.
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There are three more ways to improve personal productivity by taking 5S beyond the physical environment, to the mental environment. We can get a hint by reflecting on how the Japanese use the word seiri (整理 – or sort in English) in combination with other words:
Sort your feelings (気持ちの整理)
Each day before you get started with your work, get rid of negative feelings. Put your positive thoughts and feelings first. Relax. Set aside worries or concerns for later. Give thanks.
Sort your work (仕事の整理)
This means prioritizing what you need to get done TODAY and what can wait. Which customers are you serving, and what requests are you fulfilling? Be clear in what is job #1 for the day, and what’s next after that. This is the difference between efficiency and effectiveness. Getting things done versus getting to work on the right things.
Sort your head (頭の整理)
Structure your thoughts. Break complex issues down to their simplest parts. Here is some wisdom from American writer Mark Twain:

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.

What are the most important ideas, needs, desires or motivations that are guiding you today? What things in your head distract from them? What are the main things you want to communicate to others today?
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Whether you do physical work or whether you do what is called knowledge work where the tools and materials you use are mostly in your head or on a computer, these three ways will help increase personal productivity through 5S applied to your mind.

1 Comment

  1. Dan Markovitz

    July 6, 2007 - 7:04 am

    There’s an additional value to 5S for knowledge workers: the process of sorting work — going through papers and emails — makes our commitments visible and enables us to fulfill those that need to be handled, and discard those that we *shouldn’t* be doing at all.