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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