Leveraging Lean in Your Daily Activities at Home
What does lean really mean at home?
Lean is defined as a set of management practices to improve efficiency and effectiveness by eliminating waste. The core principle of lean is to reduce and eradicate non-value-adding activities and waste (ASQ, 2019). Without knowing it, most of us apply lean thinking in our home habits. At home, it is possible to use the 5S system (sort, straighten, shine, standardize, sustain) when organizing items and separating or discarding the ones that are not used or needed (sorting).
If you relocate items closer to your area of work, you are straightening—say you iron after drying your clothes; therefore, you move the iron and iron board near or inside of the laundry area for quicker access. Shining could consist of cleaning up after cooking, leaving the kitchen in excellent condition. Standardizing would look like creating a chore list for each day of the week and adhering to it. Finally, sustaining would be reevaluating all the tasks above, adjust where needed to fine-tune the process.
Focus on Value-Added Activities
As a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, I am always looking for new ways to streamline processes and add value to my day. Understanding the importance of value-added and non-value-added activities can have a considerable effect on experiencing productivity. Many of the things we do daily are not considered value-added. In business, lean value-added activities can make or break the competitive edge in an organization. If the activity does not add value to the end product the customer will receive, then it is not value-added. Outside of work, we must decide what is truly important to add value to our lives. For example, taking a loved one who is in town for the weekend to the movies may be more enriching than raking leaves.
Kanban to Minimize Waste
When my children were younger (they are all adults now), I would make a weekly chore list for each day of the week, with assignments, and red/green dots. Of course, if the chore was completed and performed correctly—a green dot was placed on the chart. If a task was not completed, the dreadful red dot was charted. Soon, from a distance, I could see who was doing what and if it was completed. The Kanban is a visualization system for managing work as it moves through a process. This system captures workflow to identify potential bottlenecks in-process and fixing them to have efficient and effective throughput.
In conclusion, incremental improvements should be celebrated. Practicing lean means looking for ways to eliminate waste by identifying processes and resources that add value to your work and home life. Doing this at home can simplify your life and save you time and money. Once you learn how to identify wasteful habits, you can apply waste reduction techniques for efficiency. It is incredible how lean can simplify your life!