I’m busy trying to follow the principles of David Allens ‘Getting Things Done’ over the last couple of weeks. One of the key practices envolved is getting rid of clutter (which actually is a tough one for me – and for most people I know -, but I got a little bit help from my iBook which crashed; I got the harddisk replaced and just reinstalled the data and tools I really need or want). Clutter is defined as everything – objects, files, thoughts – that is not at the right place.

I recently rediscovered the 5s Process which originates in Japan as part of Kaizen. It seems to be a nice complementary technique / conceptualisation for addressing ones clutter – sometimes a term does the trick:

SEIRI: create tidyness. Throw away all unused stuff, file away the rest.
SEITON: keep evertything at the right place. Keep the tools you need accessible, hide materials you don’t need regularly.
SEISO: keep your (work-)space clean, remove all traces from the previous task before starting the next.
SEIKETSU: develop a personal sense for organizing your things. Develop routines, optimize your system according to your needs.
SHITSUKE: stay disciplined doing the above, make it a habit and permanent practice.


thanks for this good posting (and many of your others). good reading and a nice hook to hang some new habits on.
it’s interesting to read other web pages on this topic and think about how organization of the workspace (your “clutter” tag) fits in an industrial setting where there are lots of opportunities for physical objects to get in the way.
posted by Edward Vielmetti : 2/13/2005 08:00:30 AM

Thanks for a well written statement of fact. I was just browsing the internet to get the %s facts. Seems that our CEO wants to include 5s as part of our company presentation to potential customers. I am in the process of writing a empowering book called the 6 bin system. It uses many of the 5s principles.
It should be out on the market in September. I am looking for people to try out the 6 bin system for my book. You may be interested.
posted by Carl Beard : 4/17/2006 06:04:08 AM

Saurier, I found this link on Kaizen and the desktop which is worth a read.
I am struggling with tidiness at the moment having inherited three boxes worth of stuff in a new job (that I’m supposed to understand or perpetuate or otherwise make sense of and add to).
posted by Edward Vielmetti : 5/10/2006 10:24:16 PM