How 5S Organization Transformed My Home: Practical Tips

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Do you feel like your life is in disarray? Is your mind cluttered? Are you like me, recognizing the mess but struggling to see the disorder? Do you want to feel more energized in your daily life? I have a tip about a method that has worked for me. I’m not claiming to have become Mr. Pedantic since we started considering 5S at home, but undeniably, we’ve achieved better order and structure in recent years with 5S.

But what is 5S? The first time I encountered 5S was when I got a temporary job as a consultant for a nationwide retail chain intending to streamline its local store inventories and establish a common order for all stores. I didn’t realize right away why I was the right man for the job, but the recruiter who hired me must have had some sixth sense. I had been working partially with 5S for years without knowing it. I had a strict and very organized system in my truck, which I drove around selling bread. My wife couldn’t understand anything when she accompanied me for the first time to my truck; she wondered how I could have such order at work and such disorder at home. For me, it was a necessity to manage my work; at home, there was no such need.

5S is fundamental for implementing lean production and stands for the Japanese words: Seiri (sorting), Seiton (orderliness), Seiso (cleanliness), Seiketsu (standardization), and Shitsuke (discipline). I usually say it briefly: Sort, structure, clean, standardize, and maintain. It’s a simple yet incredibly effective method now used to varying degrees in nearly all industries.

I’m not saying everyone should implement Lean at home, but next time you spring clean, consider how you organize your home. It’s time well spent. Taking things out of the cleaning closet, cleaning the cabinet, considering what items are useful to have, and then organizing doesn’t take long, but you’ll save a lot of time over the years just by not having to look for that radiator brush. I won’t write detailed instructions on how to implement 5S simply because there is already a lot of literature on the subject. However, I can write a bit about what we’ve accomplished at home. Here are the 5 “S”:

How many cabinets do you have that look like this?

1- Sorting/Classification.

Perhaps the hardest part for me personally. Opening a drawer and seeing what I use often and what items are just shelf fillers. Do I need to keep that keychain from Disneyland 2003, or should it be stored/sold/thrown away? Once you start this journey, you’ll quickly realize you have many items you’ve never used and never will. I’m not saying you should throw away Grandma’s bowl, but if you don’t have it out, maybe a cousin would appreciate it more. At least Grandma will appreciate that more than the bowl being tucked away in the back of the china cabinet. So inventory your items, ideally into three or four categories:

  1. Important/keep,
  2. good-to-have items/long-term storage,
  3. unimportant/sell/donate.
  4. unimportant/throw away,

2 –Shine/Cleaning.

Ensure your storage systems, cabinets, shelves, and similar are clean. Also, clean the items in the first category (important/keep). The result will make your home feel clean and tidy.

Everything is in order and have a lable.

3- Structure/Organization.

The most fun part of all. This is when you decide where the coffee maker should go and in what order the cutlery should be in the drawer. In our home, we’ve also been clear about labeling many organized places. I realize it’s overkill, but for me, it’s an invaluable help. All kitchen drawers have a label that helps me when putting away dishes or getting a whisk bowl for the cream. In the garage, all tools have their own place or their own storage box, all labeled and structured. Overkill for me is labeling the drawers in the walk-in closet, although I would probably still find my underwear. When working with 5S, it’s also common to mark out where each item should be on a workbench. Some might need that, but we don’t. Everyone knows where the toaster, phone charger, and coffee maker belong.


If you go all the way with 5S at home, you might consider creating your own style for labels, storage boxes, and similar. I promise you, if you take your 10 different binders and buy 10 new identical ones, it will have a calming effect on you next time you file an insurance document or a letter from the tax office. The same goes if you only have one type of box in the walk-in closet or matching bookshelves. We use the Dymo a lot, and Ikea has been our go-to for many of our storage systems. It creates a calm impression when you have five separate shelves, but they are all the same kind. Our next project is to get identical storage bins and replace all the ten different ones we use today.


Have you completed the first four steps? Congratulations, your home has now been transformed into a structured home with a Nordic simple style. But this is where the work begins. Maintaining order at home requires discipline. I, of all people, know it’s difficult, and some corners need constant attention. But you’ve done the big job; now it’s just about continuing. When you bring home a new red T-shirt, put it in the drawer for red T-shirts. Or if you buy a new hall cabinet, make sure it matches your existing storage theme and label the drawers so you know what goes in each drawer. remember to repeat step 1-4 as often as needed to keep your home organised.

Has it helped me?

Yes, I find it much easier to keep things organized now than before. Just cleaning my messy desk has gone from happening at most once a year to at least once a month. It still gets messy, but it’s easy to gather things up and put them away when everything has its place. I also immediately see if something is out of place. The biggest benefit is in the kitchen, though I get annoyed every day by some new thing left out on the kitchen counter. But I can put things away because I know where everything goes, even if I wasn’t the one who got it out.

My Best Tools for Good Organization

  • Dymo Label Maker: The one I use most of all. I’ve even started making a simpler type of shelf edge label with the Dymo.
  • Shelf Edge Strips: Oh, how I love these. I don’t just put them on shelves but also on drawers.
  • Sortimo System: A must for me. It’s used everywhere in the home. All tools have a Sortimo box, and it has even started to sneak into other areas. The battery box and first aid box are good examples. Used by Bosch and other big brands.
  • Dresser Drawer Organizer: Yes, it can bring order there too…

Below are some pictures illustrating parts of 5S. I’m aware we don’t fully achieve it in many places in our home, but I see it this way: It’s better to have a little order in the chaos than no order at all.


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