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How Lean Thinking Can Improve Your Daily Routines

By Ozlem Aydin

According to Wikipedia.org, Lean Thinking is a framework that aims to provide a new way to think about how to organize activities to deliver more value, while eliminating waste.

Implementing lean concepts to eliminate waste is a great mindset to adopt in our daily routines. Focusing on how to maximize our efforts throughout the day enables us to reduce the time and energy we spend on tasks, frees up space and generally doesn’t cost a thing.

I’m definitely a fan of the Lean Thinking concept, and I look to prioritize efficiency when and wherever possible. I look for ways to make my morning routine flow smoother, which helps me to navigate my day more mindfully.

Taking the time to periodically declutter my space does wonders too. It provides structure when I’m able to locate items with ease and get rid of anything that no longer serves a purpose. It enables me to sustain a healthy work-life balance that flows easily where I’m able to manage stress better.

I also like to utilize lean as a motivational tool. Every time I’m able to implement Lean Thinking, I feel inspired to identify more ways to make things easier not just for myself, but for my family, friends, and colleagues as well.

One of my favorite lean concepts are the 5S:

  • Sort: Sort out and separate what is needed and not needed. Routinely declutter your space and eliminate what no longer serves a purpose.
  • Straighten: Arrange items that are needed so they are ready for use. Clearly identify locations for items so that anyone can find them and return them once the task is completed. Straightening will also help to quickly identify when items need to be reordered.
  • Shine: Clean your space and equipment on a regular basis to maintain standards and identify defects promptly. Routinely cleaning and maintaining your space will also make you feel good about working in that space.
  • Standardize: Revisit the first three of the 5S on a frequent basis and confirm the condition using standard procedures. Get familiar with the process and implement lean practices as available.
  • Sustain: Keep to the rules to maintain the standard and identify ways to improve every day. As we continue to evolve, we must also look to enhance how we do things. By focusing on eliminating waste, we sustain an efficient lifestyle that frees up resources that we can utilize in other needed areas.

You can apply 5S to just about anything, whether you’re identifying efficiencies at home or looking to eliminate waste at work. Adopt Lean Thinking as a mindset, and it will eventually become a worthwhile habit.

It may take time to acquire and grasp, but it’s worth the investment in the long run. Like everything else, our way of thinking and doing things also needs to evolve for it to continue providing the value it once served.

Take control of your routine and implement actions that will make things easier for you. The more we’re able to eliminate waste in our daily activities, the more time and energy we can have to spend doing other things that bring us contentment.

Ozlem is a senior management official working in the Office of Communications at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). She’s been employed at the IRS for 16 years, possessing a wide range of experience from Collections, Engagement & Retention Office and the Strategy and Organizational Office to name a few.

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