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The 5S method of home organizing

5S method of home organizing

Various sources offer great home organizing tips, including professional organizers who share their tidying habits and design pros who provide insights on organizing dos and don’ts. However, I’ve come across one of the most helpful approaches that originates from an unexpected source: the Japanese automotive industry, particularly the 5S system for organizing spaces.

The 5S method, a Japanese automotive manufacturing concept, aims to enhance efficiency. Its name derives from five Japanese words — Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, and Shitsuke — which loosely translate to Sort, Set, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain in English. This structured system can also be applied to home organization. Let’s explore how.

What is the 5S method?

Originating in Japan, the 5S method is an automotive manufacturing concept that has been adopted by manufacturing and healthcare enterprises worldwide. Its objective is to improve efficiency and maximize utility by reducing unnecessary components and implementing a streamlined system that is easy to maintain. The 5S derives its name from five Japanese words, which can be roughly translated into English as follows:

Sort: Identify items without a purpose and either store or eliminate them.
Set: Arrange frequently used items in a way that allows easy access and efficient storage.
Shine: Ensure that each item is clean and in working order.
Standardize: Develop a checklist or routine for completing the first three steps.
Sustain: Repeat these steps daily.

The effectiveness of the 5S method for home organization lies in its ability to provide a framework for establishing and maintaining systems. While the first step focuses on decluttering, the subsequent steps emphasize regular tidying, cleaning, and maintenance. The 5S system can be applied to various areas of your home, such as your workspace, kitchen, shower, and garage.

What do the experts say?

Rebecca Enberg, a home organizing expert and the creator of the Substack “Your House Machine,” attests to the effectiveness of the 5S method. She recently implemented it in her kids’ playroom. Enberg designated specific places to store her kids’ toys, such as the gray storage ottoman and wooden bookshelf, and foam blocks under the record cabinet at the end of each day. Additionally, she installed an IKEA SKÅDIS pegboard, shelf, and set of hooks above the table to organize art supplies and her kids’ artwork. To facilitate recycling, she placed a small round container on the table as a mini recycling bin, which her kids empty after each project. Finally, she introduced a Montessori-style bookshelf, like this one from Amazon, that her kids can easily reach.

“The main purpose of the 5S system is to have only what you need and ensure that everything has a designated place,” explains Enberg. “It eliminates decision-making, making it easier to involve your kids in the cleanup process.”

Whether you have children or not, implementing a 5S system can simplify the process of finding items and alleviate the decision fatigue associated with putting them away. Moreover, it allows you to store your belongings in a more aesthetically pleasing manner, enhancing the beauty of even the smallest area in your home.

It appears that my mother had a simpler system called “Put that away.” Alternatively, she would say, “Wipe that off and put it away.” Based on the Before and After photos, it seems that the process involved removing the little tyke. That was likely the most important step, but I cannot think of an appropriate “S” name for it.

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