The start of a new year is a terrific time to let go of what no longer works, and, a powerful Lean office approach known as 5S is a great way to get started. The freedom and creative energy that result when you clear the clutter will astound you and propel you forward in areas and passions of your life you may have lost sight of. This includes physical things you haven’t used for years or, mental/emotional baggage you’ve been hauling around for decades!
Using a simplified version of Lean Office 5S; start by clearing some clutter from a digital repository. Go ahead; find a single bulging digital file folder and spend 15 minutes with the following exercise.
1. Sort: Review the file contents (using preview pane will help) and begin sorting the necessary from the un-necessary. Anything that no longer serves a purpose which you have stored in this particular file folder is archived, deleted or returned to its correct “home”, i.e. another folder.
2. Set: Next, review all the document’s that remain and set them in some type of order. Can you create a few simple folders? Do you need to re-name documents or folders?
3. Shine: Take a few more minutes and ask yourself what else you could do to create a “wow” factor in this area. Tag a file folder with an icon rather than the default manila digital folder for easy visual identification. Is this a folder you frequent daily – if so, create a short-cut on your desktop for speedy access.
4. Standardize: Take a moment and think of ways you would standardize naming conventions that would promote searchability and sort ability within this folder.
5. Sustain: Develop a plan that will help sustain this effort such as setting aside an additional 10-15 minutes once each week to focus on another digital file, or, a reminder of some kinds that prompts you to use a consistent naming convention for documents.
Great work! Note the progress you made in this brief period of time, and more importantly, note the feeling it evokes and the energy it creates. Target another small area and continue to take small incremental steps that will result in large scale efficiency benefits. This is what Lean Office is all about.
Move to a bigger project, such as the icons that obliterate your computer desktop or the emails in your in-box, break the project into smaller steps, and, by all means get support if needed.
* Photo Credit: Michael Ruiz<http://www.flickr.com/photos/simax/>
About the author: Tracy Parks is CEO of Simplicated, LLC, Productivity Consultant, trainer and speaker.