Making more time

Over the last few posts I’ve talked a lot about having more success in 2015. In addition to more success, learning to delegate, prioritizing and focusing your time, and building your team of 100, can add something else to your life – more time.

Time is the one thing that we never seem to have enough of. This time of year you routinely hear people say “I can’t believe how fast this past year has gone.”

Despite the title of my post “making more time” the reality is that there is a finite amount of time in any given day, week or year. The real goal for each of us is to make the time we have each day more meaningful and the best way to do that is to eliminate all the waste that creeps into our day. Taking a chapter from my days in manufacturing organization one of the best ways to do that is to become Lean!

Lean is all about taking waste out of a process. Our lives are made up of hundreds of processes that we routinely do every day. From our morning routine of getting our families and ourselves off to school or work, to the processes we use to do our work. Appling the lean concepts to these everyday processes can give you back what you need…more time. More time to focus on family and friends or to dream up the next big idea.

Simplify your life – use the 5s lean approach

One of the key tools in the Lean toolbox is the 5s philosophy and the end of the year is a great time to embrace this simple to use approach.

1. Sort—everything starts here and the old adage “if you haven’t used it in a year or two you’re probably never going to” applies. Imagine that all your stuff feels like stones in your backpack. You carry them around with you. Over time you get so used to their heft that you don’t even notice them. Getting rid of the things you don’t use or need any longer is like taking the stones out of the pack. With each stone removed you feel lighter and more energized.

Use this approach in your home and work environment. Sort everything, including your computer files. Actual household items and office equipment that you aren’t using can be donated to a local organization, allowing you to get a tax deduction and feel good about yourself all at the same time.

2. Set in Order—anything left needs its own place to live. How many times have you gone from room to room looking for that screwdriver you need to fix that loose screw? Or searched through 4 years of computer files looking for that document you need to reference. Each item itself is simple and takes almost no time – fix a screw, read a document. However, the time spent looking for the key ingredient takes 30 minutes of time. Wasted time. 

Find a spot where each item can be easily stored and retrieved when needed. Clear plastic boxes with lids and removable labels are a must for this step. When it comes to your office files, convert as much as you can to electronic and set up a clear naming convention that will allow you or others to quickly find the document you need. Also, when it comes to surfaces, always store things in a vertical manner. Piles of papers, documents and stuff just begets more papers, documents and stuff.

3. Shine—let the light shine in! Call in the window washers, carpet cleaners and HVAC repair to make sure your homes and offices are as clean as possible and the heating and ventilation systems are in excellent working order. Having a clean work and home creates a sense of calm in our brains. We don’t spend our very precious time stressing about things that need to be done.

4. Standardize—develop your process for maintaining the order you created. To me this is the most important step in the process. It’s easy to clear the clutter. It’s harder to make sure it doesn’t creep back in. The best way to do this is to develop procedures for keeping the changes in place.

For instance, labels on shelves and packages act as a great visual reminder of where something is supposed to go and ensures everyone is working with the same information. So if the screwdriver from our example above is stored in the kitchen with other tools, use a Sharpie marker to write the word Kitchen on the handle. Likewise label the storage bin it goes into with the word Tools. Your brain will feel compelled to bring the two of them together. Computer files should be handled in the same way. Set up a naming convention that is intuitive and could be understood by anyone.

5. Sustain—practice does make perfect. As you develop these great habits your brain and muscles establish new patterns that over time will make these simple changes permanent. Most importantly, these changes free up precious seconds, minutes and hours over time allowing you more time to spend with family and friends or achieve your next big idea.

Join the Conversation:

How much time can you make when you 5s your life?