How 5s Can Help Organize Your Life


We all live on a moment to moment basis, and what gets us through one moment to the next is our routines. Being creatures of habit, that is what it all boils down to with everything in our lives – our routines. But the problem is that our lives are filled with meaningless and mind-numbing routines.

We also find it hard to figure out what is meaningful and worthwhile. This is compounded by the fact that we live in an age where information overload is the norm. And most of this information we come across is the antithesis of meaningful and worthwhile. Before we know it, our lives are spiraling out of control and we don’t know how to get them back on track.

Here, is where Lean Six Sigma can help with one of it’s biggest tools – 5s. Using the 5s, you can organize your life by figuring out which routines are meaningful and worthwhile.

In continuous improvement circles, the 5s are not just buzz words but are an effective framework for organizing and cleaning spaces. They help people create and maintain structure in their space, as well as help improve it on a constant basis, whether it is at home or at the office.


This first step in organizing your life starts with sorting out what is useful and what isn’t. It is easy to get overwhelmed when you have hundreds of items to worry about at once. But once you sort everything out, you discover that not everything is so important nor in need of dedicating too much effort towards it.

You need to make a list of everything on your mind that you feel you should do. Keeping writing until the next list item takes several minutes to think about. That is when you know you are close to completing the list.

Finally, using a rating system of 1 to 10, rate everything. For example, a rating of 1 in terms of importance means that the thing is not important and it won’t impact your life positively or negatively if you don’t do it. A rating of 10 means the opposite of this.


Now it is time to start crossing items of your list, starting with the ones that are very important and take less effort to do. Put them all in order so you know which ones to complete first.

For example, if you have rated an item as 10 in terms of importance with a level of effort of 1 (something that takes you 2-5 minutes), you should start doing that right away. Once you start completing them, you will see progress. This will motivate you to finish out the rest of the list.


With the highly important but less demanding tasks out of the way, it is time to handle the rest. Look at each item and figure out what steps you need to take to get closer to completing it. Once figured out, make an action plan with detailed steps that you can complete in the coming weeks.


Life is rarely static, meaning that other items needing your attention will pop up during the week or existing ones will change in their level of importance and effort. You need to review the list every week and make the necessary amendments to maintain the order in your life. So make sure to have a weekly review scheduled on your calendar.


Sustaining this new order in your life requires commitment, which is the last step you need to master to complete the 5s. Sure, you have set a weekly review in your calendar, but will you stick to it? You need to make it a habit – something you will do come rain or shine. And if you can’t do your weekly review today, try as much as possible to do it tomorrow or the next day, as long as the week is not up.


You are the sum total of all your routines, but when our routines are meaningless and mind-numbing, we find our lives spiraling out of control. With the 5s (sort, set, shine, standardize and sustain), you can stop the spiraling and get back in control. When you’re back in the driver’s seat in your life, you can take the right actions that improve your life for the better.



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