Everyday Lean: Tips and Tricks to Use at Home

While I spend a good deal of time learning and writing about how companies use Lean Six Sigma practices and Minitab Statistical Software to improve their processes, I also enjoy bringing Lean fundamentals into my everyday life at home.

In fact, maybe I’ve taken the whole “Lean in my everyday life” thing too far:

  • I slyly use 5-Why Analysis to solve minor disagreements with my spouse. (Don’t tell!)

Maybe I’m overdoing it with the Lean stuff, but you know what? I think I have Lean concepts built into my core inner-workings. I like working efficiently and I hate wasting time, especially at home with daily chores. I cringe a little inside each night as I watch my husband slowly wash the dishes after dinner! His whole process is done at a snail’s pace and I know that I could wash five dishes in the time he takes to wash one. (However, please don’t interpret this as me complaining, because I do appreciate the fact that he does the dishes so I don’t have to!)

As Lean’s goal is to eliminate waste, here are a couple of time-saving, waste-of-motion reducing tactics that I definitely need to implement around my home.

1. Instead of placing wrapping paper rolls in plastic tubs that always seem to be buried in storage when you need them the most, string a piece of wire at the top of a closet to store wrapping paper for easy access:

String a piece of wire at the top of a closet to store wrapping paper for easy access.
2. If you’re like me and have only a small cabinet beneath your sink to store cleaning products, maximize the space you do have and keep everything in one place (to eliminate the waste of excess motion while cleaning) by installing a tension rod to hang cleaning products with spray-bottle heads:

Install a tension rod to hang cleaning products with spray-bottle heads.

3. Use bread or bagel bag ties to label tangled cords in your office. Not only will the cords have a clutter-free look, but when you need to trouble-shoot, these visible, labeled cords will really be a time-saver (eliminate the waste of waiting to find the cord you need).

Use bread or bagel bag ties to label tangled cords in your office.

I’ve recently started using Trello to manage both my work and personal to-do lists. Trello is neat because it is essentially a tool that keeps all of your to-do lists in one place (it’s like a list of lists!). It’s especially helpful for managing many lists with a group of people, (planning a family vacation!), and I really like that instead of having to-do lists scattered around on sticky notes and in various notebooks, all of my lists are electronic and viewable from one location online.

What kinds of Lean tips and tricks do you use at home?


Name: Carly • Monday, February 27, 2012

Hi Omar,
Thanks for your comments and for sharing my post! I love your tips about being Lean at the Supermarket, and I'll definitely be using them!
Check out this post I wrote earlier about other Lean tactics Supermarkets use:

Name: Joseph • Saturday, January 18, 2014

I am a test engineer who really believes in lean six sigma. I do much of the same around my house. I also do test driven analysis where I will determine the test for whether a improvement was successful before I start the improvement. It does mean that I will intentionally do it in what I believe is probably a less efficient way a few times after I think of an improvement to get a base line, but I get to feel the accomplishment of knowing that I made a measureable improvement. I also use 5S, and I have a set route that I clean that only changes once I have collected enough evidence (Time Study) to know whether a change has made a statistical difference. My wife thinks I am nuts, but I do most of the house work and it doesn't really take me much time so I don't mind. I too am very efficient. Some may think the extra time of taking measurements is a waste, but it doesn't take that long to measure a time and the pay off in better processes has saved me hours per week.

Name: Carly Barry • Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hi Joseph - Thanks for reading and for sharing how you use Six Sigma at home. I appreciate your desire to be efficient and constantly improve your household processes. Keep it up! :)

Thanks again for reading,

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