Home Organization

Framework of Organizing Discipline: The Japanese 5S System

Framework of Organizing Discipline: The Japanese 5S System is an overview of the system that I used in my articles about home organizing. As I mentioned in my previous articles, that you need to follow a process for de-cluttering and in finding the place for everything in order to make your organizing journey a success. Those processes or steps are based in the Japanese 5S System Methodology.

What Is The Framework of Organizing Discipline: The Japanese 5S System?

The 5S System originated in the manufacturing industry at Toyota. It is a process and a method commonly used in manufacturing and other business industries like hospitals, warehousing and offices to eliminate the 7 manufacturing wastes. This is done in order to improve the quality of products and services and to eliminate workplace accidents. Its main goal is to have an organized space and to make it easier for people to do their job effectively, efficiently and safely. I know it sounds technical and you’re probably thinking what does it have to do with you wanting to get your home organized? But your question should be if the 5S system promotes quality and safety then the 5S system should also be commonly used in a household setting since we all want to improve our quality of life and keep accidents from happening.

To improve the quality of your life is one of the many reasons why you want your home organized. You want to get rid of the stress that comes from clutter and bring back the sense of control in your space. You want to feel relaxed and have peace of mind because you want to feel safe when you are at home. However, you will not able to have that feeling if you have a cluttered house. Therefore, the need to have a more organized home arises in order to improve the quality of your life!

Since the home and business industry are aiming for the same goals (good quality and safety), the 5S system should also be a common process in a household setting.  Unfortunately, in the household setting, only few know how to apply these methods and they are mostly professional organizers. Professional organizers might not use the technical words that are used in the manufacturing industry but they will usually use the following terminologies such as purging/de cluttering, putting things in order, activity zones, labeling, logical sequencing, habit and more. Those common terminologies actually have their equivalent word usage in the 5S System (stands for 5 Japanese words that start with “S”) and they are as follows:

Japanese Word  = Home Organizing Word

1st   S – Seiri         = Sort/De-cluttering or Purging

2nd S – Seiton     = Set in Order/Everything In Its Place or Activity Zones

3rd S – Seiso        = Sweep/Tidying or Cleaning

4th S – Seiketsu  = Standardize/Stay Organized

5th S – Shitsuke  = Sustain/Household Discipline or Habit

The 5S system is the Framework of Organizing Discipline, it should not be a method only known by professional organizers but it should also be a common method for every household setting as it improves quality of life and safety.  This is the method that once you have learned the application of the system, you will literally be able to organize any type of space or room in your house, plus, you will be able to eliminate the 7 manufacturing wastes that are also very common in every household.

7 Wastes

As I mentioned earlier, the 5S System is used by the business industry to eliminate the 7 manufacturing wastes to improve the quality of products or services and safety of the workers. Below are the equivalent household wastes that can be eliminated using the framework of organizing discipline:

7 WasteManufacturing WastesHousehold Wastes
1.Mistakes/Defectsproducts with poor quality or did not meet the standard design or service or did not meet customer expectations.-you are baking a cake and you mistakenly used salt as sugar.

-failed to notice a small drip from a pipe before it became a major plumbing problem.

2. Transportationmoving materials from one place to another. 

-when you need to go back to the grocery store because you forgot to get the list items that you need.

-during meal preparation you make a lot of trips to your walk-in pantry.

3. Waitingrefers to wasted time when another employee in charge of the next step is waiting for the previous step to get it done. 

you are searching for a certain spice from a different part of your kitchen that is needed to cook a meal that you have planned


4. Motionsunnecessary movement of items or people within the work space. 

unnecessary bending and stretching to get ready to cook a meal.


5. Overproductionproducing more products than the demand. 

-cooking too many meals/more than what is needed or more than what can be eaten within a certain period of time.

-buying in large quantities because the items were at a great discount even if you cannot consume them before the they expire.

6. Over Processing 

doing work that does not bring additional value or adds more value than required.


buying expensive and heavy dinnerware that you do not want anybody to use or buy food that nobody wants to eat.

7. Inventorystoring products or materials that are not needed at the present time 

-food or canned foods that are not used by the expiration date.

-buying kitchen equipment that you probably will not be able to use.

-cabinets full of office supplies such as pencils, papers, etc.

-buying food in large quantities that you cannot eat before they expire.

Waste Elimination is very popular in the business world because it is one of the most effective ways to improve profitability of any business. But there is also a similar movement happening in the “household industry” called Zero Waste Living.

Zero Waste Living is gaining popularity right now. This is because of its perceived environmental benefits. It encourages people to reduce items that will create more waste, live less or buy only what you need and to gain control over consumption and spending. When you stop and compare the WASTE ELIMINATION with the ZERO WASTE LIVING, they both have the same goals which are to get rid of things that you do not need, only buy things that you need and maximize the usage of every essential item that you buy.

  • Getting rid of things that you do not need
    • Waste Elimination For business industry  –  getting rid of things that they do need or things that do not add value to the product or service will help workers focus on the things that are essential while eliminating unnecessary expenses.
    • Zero Waste Living For “household industry” – getting rid of things that are not needed means reducing the creation of more waste.
  • Only buy things that you need
    • Waste Elimination For business industry – excessive inventory or buying items that you do need at the present time means stagnant money.
    • Zero Waste Living For “household industry” – buying excessive amounts of food that may end up in the trash because they will expire before you can consume them, not you only wasted money but you creates more trash in the environment.
  • Maximize the usage of every essential item that you buy
    • Waste Elimination For business industry – all business industries want to make sure that they will get their money back with profits for every investment they put their money into, the longer they use machinery and other essentials the better.
    • Zero Waste Living For “household industry” – buy items that you can use longer, items that are well made, that are warranty-backed and do not need to be replaced right away.

The above examples are just a few of the many similarities between Waste Elimination in the business industry and Zero Waste Living in the “household industry”. Below are a few examples that the framework of organizing discipline will require you to do to stay organized at home and at the same time practice the Zero Waste Living:

  • Stop buying things you do not need
  • Buy clothes that match your style, that really fit and you absolutely love and not because they are on trend and at great discount.
  • Eliminate food waste! Buy only what you need and what you can eat. Do not buy food in large quantities that you can not eat before it expires.
  • Donate your unwanted items to charity or thrift stores, don’t just throw them away. This also helps you to stop the useless  accumulation of items that do nothing more than attract dust and occupy your precious space.
  • Plan your meals as this encourages you to cook your own food and to avoid takeout. It will also help you stop buying foods that will expire before they are consumed.

How The Framework Of Organizing Eliminates The 7 Household Wastes

The Framework of Organizing Discipline : The Japanese 5S System describes how to organize your home in a more efficient way by identifying essential items, where to store them and how to maintain and sustain the new order. By implementing the framework of organizing discipline you also eliminate the 7 household wastes and they are as follows:

1. Sort/De-cluttering or Purging

  • In my article Decluttering Your Home In 5 Easy Japanese Steps, this is the process that will guide you to how to sort things properly in order to identify the following:
    • what are items to keep also known as essential items,
    • what are the items not to keep also known as items that are no longer needed or have not been used for a long time,
    • and how to go about doing the whole process.
  • By doing this, you will able to gain back valuable space by getting rid of useless items and will reduce the amount of time spent looking for these items because you will be able to dedicate a space for all your essential items. Therefore, you will minimize if not eliminate one of the 7 wastes which is WAITING.

2. Set in Order/Put Everything In Its Place

  • My article Organizing 101: How To Put Things In Order The Japanese Way is about the 2nd S of the 5S system and how to apply it in a household setting. This method is about finding the right place for every essential item and putting everything in its designated place.
  • By following the 4 Organizing Steps To Know How to Put Things In Order , you will able to arrange your essential items where you can easily access them when you need them and easily put them back after usage.
  • The set in order method will help you to eliminate the following household wastes:
    • Motions – Unnecessary bending and stretching just to get one task done.
    • Transportation – A designated place for essentials will help you to spot the items that need to be replenished and will trigger you to put those items on your “To Buy List”. This will help to eliminate unplanned trips to the grocery store.
    • Inventory – If you have an unorganized pantry just like picture below, you will not able to identify items you have in stock and items which are low. Most of the time, you end up at the store to buy the items rather than spending time to look for the items in your unorganized pantry. This could result in overstocking of pantry staples cause you to have pantry staples that will not be used by the expiration date.

3. Sweep/Tidying or Cleaning

Organizing Discipline

  • In my article Why Cleaning Keeps Your Home Organized, when you are doing the house cleaning on a regular basis, you naturally put things back in order, throw away every useless item spotted during cleaning, and you can determine the essential steps to keep your home organized.
  • Besides the two reasons mentioned above, cleaning also helps you to spot future problems quickly because you will notice if there is something missing or unusual. You will also see things that need a quick fix before it become they become major problems that will cost you a lot of money. Therefore you will able to eliminate the Mistake/Defect waste.

4. Standardize/Stay Organized

Organizing Discipline

  • In my article How To Stay Organized At Home,  forming a new habit is necessary to keep doing what you have done to get your home organized. There are 3 ways that will help you to stay organized and they are as follows:
  • By doing this method, you will able to eliminate the following household wastes:
    • Overproduction – a grocery list that matches your needs will prevent you from  buying in large quantities even if the items are at a great discount. Why? Because you know what you and your family need and buying outside of your needs causes waste.
    • Over Processing – a grocery list that matches your needs will also able to remind you not to buy foods even if they are at a great discount especially foods that no one in your family eats. The same is true with clothing, do not buy clothes that are not your style even if they clothes are in trend and at a great discount because you will end up not wearing them.

5. Sustain/Household Discipline or Habit

Organizing Discipline

  • The Sustain Method is to ensure that you consistently put into practice all you have done to get your home organized without procrastination!
  • A consistent implementation of the first 4S’s (Sorting, Set In Order, Sweep and Standardize) will lead you to create a new habit that will eventually turn into your new household discipline or also known as organizing discipline.
  • Organizing discipline can be achieved by involving your loved ones to obey and understand the new way of doing things to keep your home organized by doing the following:
    • Educate Your Loved Ones! Staying organized at home is not a one- time action but a continuous process which means it is not a one man or one woman job. It will require a collective effort of the whole family to make your organizing journey a success.
    • Make A Regular Inspection through regular checking of your family’s compliance to the household rules and setting up a regular family meeting to give praise to those who deserve praise and to discuss areas that need improvement.
    • Be A Good Example! Practice What You Preach as you need to set a standard on how to do things around the house so your family and loved ones will not come up with a reason why they cannot follow the new rules.

Organizing Discipline Final Thoughts

Learning the Framework of Organizing Discipline and how it applies to your home will not only help you keep your home organized but will definitely also improve your quality of life because the common household wastes that cause you stress and anxiety will be eliminated. Therefore, you will able to accomplish your household chores effectively, efficiently and safely and at the same time practicing Zero Waste Living! You can now relax, feel safe and just enjoy being at home.

Leave a Reply