Step 4 of our Continuous Improvement Plan
Over the past three articles we have been working on and thinking about tools and strategies to build our own personal foundation for change and continuous improvement.
Today, I want to add our first pillar to our mindset foundation; Step 4 – get organized and declutter your life of all things that add little to no value.
Messy or unorganized spaces in your life are a drain on your energy level, reduce other people’s impressions and opinion of you and lower your overall effectiveness.
Have you ever wondered or actually recorded how much time you spend hunting for things you need around your house or office?
A remedial task can end up taking 30 minutes or more to finish if you cannot find that pair of scissors, a pen that actually works or my favorite; the tape measure
Every time you say things like this to co-workers, friends or family you are adding needless, non-valuable thoughts into your mind and negatively influencing other people’s impression of you:
- “Sorry about the mess”
- “Hmmm, I thought it was in this pile.”
- “Jim, have you seen the stapler?”
- “I really need to make time to clean this space.”
Being organized is one of the most effective ways to get more time back into your life and form another strong continuous improvement habit.
I am going to show you a simple, small improvement plan to declutter your life now and get organized with the help of an amazing product, called Kaizen Foam.
The best part of this plan is that the space you work on will stay organized! The absolutely most difficult part of your previous getting organized efforts.
A Closer Look at a Nasty Space – The Junk Drawer
Our World is full of clutter from our email inboxes to that horrifying pit of a junk drawer. These nasty little spaces in our lives create so much wasted time and frustration.
At least with your email you can spend some time setting up folders, filters and that marvelous little field where you can enter search terms to help you find important information.
But, what do you do with those offline areas of your home or office that technology cannot help you with?
I absolutely admire people who have kids, work full-time and have a clean house 90% of the time. I personally do not know any of these people, but I am sure they are out there.
For the rest of us who struggle to be organized at home and at work there must be a product or a system we can follow to save us time hunting for things we need and feel a little less stressed out.
Yes, we can certainly clean out a junk drawer, a closet or a work bench.
We take a few hours on the weekend to masterfully clean up the space and throw things out (maybe) that we don’t even know why we kept them.
You might have even bought some cool looking, plastic organizing tray with a number of different sized compartments in it.
You organize each item and put them all back in the drawer in their own little area of the tray or the drawer.
Yeah! We have decluttered and organized the junk drawer! We are so excited, we want to show our family, our co-workers, friends and even our neighbors how clean our junk drawer has become.
However, this is not our first rodeo, we have a cleaned it before, so we know our work is not done yet.
For the next few days you become the guardian of the junk drawer keeping a watchful eye on anyone who attempts to take anything out of it or put something away.
You give commands like, “you better put that back where you found it!” or “that does not go there, it goes over there.” You also emphasize the importance of your wishes by pointing a finger in the direction you want them to go.
You do a masterful job protecting the cleanliness of that drawer until about the following week when you are sick of being the guardian.
Slowly, but surely that drawer starts to inherit items that don’t belong and items that should be in that drawer have moved to a new, unidentified location.
Is there not a solution where I can declutter my drawers and keep it organized, so I can enjoy my weekend or get things done in the pitiful amount of time it should take?
A Simple Process to Declutter, Organize and Sustain any Space in your House or Office
As a former, junk drawer member I am truly excited to tell you I definitely have a solution that not only will clean up that drawer, but keep it clean and orderly for a very long time. Take a look at the remarkable after picture of my junk drawer to see the results.
The Plan starts by following a system called 5S.
The 5S’s stand for the following:
- Sort – you take everything out of the drawer and sort it into piles. I usually make three piles, so I don’t get too distracted by the decision of what pile things should go in. My three piles are garbage, need, maybe.
- Set In Order
- Take everything in your garbage pile and just throw it out, done. This is actually quite a satisfying step in the process.
- Now go to your need pile. Look at each item in the pile and ask yourself why do I need this, who needs this, is this the right place for this item and how often do we use the item? At this stage you may also want to discuss with other junk drawer users to get their thoughts on the matter. I did this with my family and it turned out to be a fun exercise for everyone. Items that you decide are no longer needed can be put in the garbage or put in a box or container or put it back in another location (where it belongs).
- Move on to the maybe pile and ask yourself or team the same questions you asked yourself about the need pile. There will be one of four possible outcomes for these items.
- They go in the garbage
- They are put back where they belong.
- They remain a maybe.
- They may actually move to the need pile.
- Shine – This is the easiest step. You clean the drawer and any items that need it.
- Standardize – This is the most crucial step of them all and you will need my number 1 solution to achieve not only this S, but the fifth, most difficult S to achieve and that is Sustain. Like we have all experienced in the past, sustaining that clean, organized and decluttered drawer is impossible. We don’t want to be guardians anymore, we just want it to stay the way we want it!
- The next step is to order an amazing product called Kaizen Foam. I have met the owner of this company and I absolutely endorse it 110%. It’s really easy to use and you can customize it any way you would like. You can use it on tables, in drawers and on walls.
- Take your maybe box or container, label it with a date and put it in storage just in case you do need something out of the box later. After about three months if you have not missed anything in the box there is a good chance you never will; donate the items, sell them if they have any value or simply throw them in the garbage.
- Sustain – The objective of the last S is to follow the first four steps and make them a habit. You also want to monitor the drawer, make sure everyone knows how the drawer will work from now on and re-evaluate its contents periodically.
- The beauty of the Kaizen foam is that everything has a set place and nothing else will fit in its location.
- Anything that might go into that drawer that does not belong can be spotted within seconds. Whoever might be attempting to put something in the drawer that does not belong will certainly think twice about it.
- Visually, you can quickly see if something is missing and what is missing.
It’s a good idea when designing the layout of your Kaizen foam that you keep an area for future items just in case you want to add something of value you did not think of in the beginning.
If your initial design needs improvements in the future, no worries, simply cut out another piece of foam and redo it.
Declutter Process Checklist and Recap
Order Your Kaizen Foam by following the arrow…
- Determine the thickness you need based on the size of the items in your drawer.
- Pick a color; black or black and white. This is just personal preference. I like the Black and White because when an item is removed the underlying white foam makes it very easy to see the item outline and that it is missing.
- Pick a drawer at home or work to declutter and organize and take a before picture.
- Work through the 5S process. You can do the first three steps while you are waiting for your foam to arrive.
- Watch the Kaizen Foam instructional video below to see how it works.
- When your foam arrives, cut a piece of foam to the size of your drawer.
- Layout out the needed items from the drawer on top of the foam and organize it how you would like.
- Trace the items on the foam with a Marker or a box cutter, Exacta knife or a Kaizen Blade.
- Cut the foam to the desired depth of the item.
- Use your finger to peel back the layers of the foam until you reach the desired depth.
- Place the item in its place to ensure it fits.
- You may have to do a little more trimming or peeling to make it fit perfectly.
- Place all of your items in the foam and put the foam back in the drawer.
- Take another picture of your masterpiece, completed.
- Share your success by posting another comment. I would love to hear about it.
- Make sure everyone who may use the drawer understands what it is and how it works.
Kaizen Foam Instruction Video
What Happens after my first Kaizen Foam Project?
Once you get one project done I bet you cannot wait to start your next 5S project at home or the office. You will likely have enough foam left over to do one or two more spaces, so keep going.
I have used Kaizen Foam to sort my tools on my workbench and my office drawer.
It’s a really awesome product that I know you won’t be disappointed in and no other plastic tray or gadget will give you the sustainability of the foam.
I would also appreciate your comments and encourage you to bookmark this page as you will want to come back here once your Kaizen Foam arrives for tips and a review of the checklist.
Remember: one of the best parts of this declutter and organize project is that you can change or alter your foam if you want to add an item later and you can customize your drawer any way you want. You are not restricted by a pre-made, plastic tray with a restrictive layout.
To getting organized,