My Lean Journey: Continuous Home Improvement

My Lean Journey: Continuous Home Improvement

As an advocate of lean, I talk a pretty good game. I love to tell people all about LeanCor and how we make things efficient and how the principles are applicable in daily life. Reducing waste, increasing velocity and streamlining processes—what’s not to like? Implementing lean concepts on the assembly line is one thing. But if you’re like me, liquidating inventory at home is a constant challenge.

But as any lean expert knows, 5S is just the tip of the iceberg. Hansei and consistency and is the name of the game, and boy did I need to take a good hard look at my place.

At that time I was living in a 500 square foot college apartment with somewhat of a hoarding problem. My teeny place was filled with craft supplies, furniture I found on the side of the road that “just needed some attention” and way too many clothes.

It so happened that we were moving to Houston that summer and it was my first opportunity to show what I had learned. My first big-girl purging.

As a very sentimental person, getting rid of all that stuff was a gut-wrenching experience that I learned only eases with practice. One thing that has really helped me get over my emotional attachment to clutter is a wonderful show on the Style network called “Clean House.”

I watched as the talented hosts would go through a home filled with “nonsense and shenanigans” (as host Niecy Nash would put it) clear out the clutter, throw out the trash, and sell nearly everything else in a yard sale. They would use the money in the yard sale to buy new furniture, flooring, and organizational storage. Sometimes it would take a lot of finesse and bargaining tactics to pry the owners from their “foolishness.” But by the end of it all, there was a tidy house and a happy family.

Which left me asking myself, is this junk worth it? Most of the time, it wasn’t and I could hold my head high as I donated the usable and threw out the un-salvageable.

Fast forward three years and one-fifth the amount of stuff.

A friend said the other day “I hate my apartment, that’s why I never have anyone over.” I asked him what about it he disliked so much; he said that it’s just too small. And then he said he had to go, he needed to go to the bookstore before they closed. I asked what books he was going to buy, and he couldn’t remember! I asked “ if you can’t even remember the titles, do you really need them?”

Then I grabbed my handy-dandy LeanCor calendar and explained the River of Waste. “See, sometimes we think we need stuff when in truth we just need less.” I felt like a lean yogi with enlightened knowledge about the link between consumerism and temporary happiness. But then I turned around and saw the boxes of goodwill donations I have yet to donate and remembered I still have a long way to go.

River of Waste

Continuous improvement is my favorite and the most difficult of all the lean principles because it acknowledges that perfection doesn't happen overnight. In fact, it’s not even the end product of a diligent dedication to a new year’s resolution, you might get really close but there’s always something that can be improved upon. Like my mom says “there’s no such thing as perfect, only better.”

Set Goals.

Get a clear picture of your ideal space, go through design magazines, and clip inspirational photos. When you can envision the end state, it will be easier to see what doesn’t belong and might even inspire some creative repurposing!

Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Focus on one area at a time. If it’s your closet, seasonal assessments are a great opportunity to realistically evaluate what you did and didn’t wear. Toss out or donate anything you haven’t worn in the two years. Oprah says 6 months, but she has an Oprah wardrobe budget.

Get in the rhythm.

Deep cleaning is great, but doing it all in one day can be a daunting task. Start a cleaning schedule that rotates from week to week; scrub down the bathroom one weekend, vacuum the dust bunnies under the couch the next. Keeping up with the cleaning beat means an ever clean household and an unburdened you.

Written by Liz Cooke, Lean Creative Specialist at LeanCor

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Posted by LeanCor Supply Chain Group

LeanCor Supply Chain Group is a trusted supply chain partner that specializes in lean principles to deliver operational improvement. LeanCor’s three integrated divisions – LeanCor Training and Education, LeanCor Consulting, and LeanCor Logistics – help organizations eliminate waste, drive down costs, and build a culture of continuous improvement.

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