Organization Basics

 Apologize in advance for the length of this post.

I have always considered myself a pretty organized person. I like my closet organized by color and season. And I like my jewelry arranged by type. I keep my magazines in stacks according to topic. I just arranged in the way that made sense to me. But I always have a hard time maintaining my organization.

Until I started at my current job, I never had a philosophy of organization. But after working with retired engineers, xGE employees, and manufacturing people for 4+ years, all their 5S training is starting to wear off on me quite a bit.

Here is the description of 5S:

“ ‘5S is the name of a workplace organization methodology that uses a list of five Japanese words which are seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu and shitsuke. Transliterated or translated into English, they all start with the letter “S.”

Sorting– Eliminate all unnecessary tools, parts, and instructions.

Stabilizing or Straightening Out– There should be a place for everything and everything should be in its place.

Sweeping or Shining – Clean the workspace and all equipment, and keep it clean, tidy and organized.

Standardizing – Work practices should be consistent and standardized.

Sustaining the Practice – Maintain and review standards. Maintain focus on this new way and do not allow a gradual decline back to the old ways. ” (in my opinion this is the hardest part) Wikipedia

When I was first introduced to this concept it all seemed like a bunch of corporate verbiage. Like someone sat around in management and tried to come up with another project to keep employees busy. But the more I have studied it and found ways to incorporate it in my everyday life the more I realize how practical and useful it is.

A few examples of how I use it in everyday life:

  • I store all my kitchen staples in see-through labeled containers. No open bags or boxes allowed! I can quickly tell what I am running low on and my staples don’t go stale. Rice, oatmeal, sugar, cornmeal, grits, chocolate chips, salt, etc. I love these containers, and they come in lots of sizes! I have been collecting them for years. They are also great for powder laundry detergent, dryer sheets etc.

You can buy them at Target but I frequently find them at Marshalls and TJ Maxx for half of what Target sells them for. The labeling part is fun (to me at least). Martha Stewart has a line of labels at Staples right now that are to-die-for. She even has chalkboard and dry erase labels in vintage designs.



  • Another way I am attempting to use the 5S method is with my daily schedule.  I try to maintain a regular schedule (with a room for flexibility, of course), but I am eliminating unneeded errands, determining the required activities, being deliberate about what activities I participate in. It really is a helpful way to reason when evaluating whether or not to accept tasks or undertakings. I tend to take on too many things and then become overwhelmed and overly tired. Then I am not a happy camper. I am still working on fact that it is okay to say “no” to extra things that I really don’t have time for! But in a community where being “too busy” is the norm, I think this way of thinking is necessary in order to stay sane!

So if you are getting in the spring cleaning mode and don’t now where to start, I hope you find this helpful.

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