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Living Lean: How I Applied Lean to My Morning Routine

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Getting out of the house in the morning on time with everything you need for your day is a challenge everyone can relate to. Now that my daughter is in junior high with more activities and assignments to remember, it has become more challenging for our family. After working with Lean in healthcare facility design for eight years, I asked myself if it was possible to apply those same principles to my personal life. The answer is “yes you can!”

The central idea of Lean is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. My goal was to streamline our morning routine and reduce the time it takes to get our family ready to leave the house. Creating a morning routine that was less stressful is what I value as the customer. Here is how I used the 5S methodology to revamp our morning routine:

  •  Set in Order: Make finding things easier with a place for everything and everything in its place
    Once items were sorted, it became easier to see the pain points. I could see that we needed to create a better “drop zone” for my daughter. As a junior high student, she needs a place to charge her Chromebook every night. Something I’ve learned though designing healthcare facilities is the idea of decentralizing supplies and bringing items to the patient to reduce motion. This same strategy can be used at home. To reduce our own motion, I invested in another toothbrush. This simple fix allows my daughter to brush her teeth on the first floor, so she doesn’t need to go back upstairs, saving time and reducing footsteps.

  • Sort: Eliminate everything that isn’t necessary whether it’s waste time or outdated habits
    The primary entry we use at our house is the back door. I looked at the space we have available and how we were using it. I sorted the items we were storing here and purged any outgrown shoes and outerwear.

  • Shine: Clean and tidy
    Give the space a good cleaning! I kicked out the dust bunnies living under the shoe rack!

  •  Standardize: Define repeatable routines and make them habits
    The biggest change was creating a spot for my daughter’s Chromebook to be charged every night. Now she can plug it in after she comes in the door, a repeatable, standardized task that has become a habit. To make sure that we have everything we need when leaving the house, we standardized our “work.” My daughter developed her own checklists for the morning and evening, keeping her on track and the rest of us sane.  
  • Sustain: Maintain and review
    The toughest part of 5S is sustaining routines. We need to review what’s working and what isn’t and adjust the process as needed. Remembering to use her checklist is still a work in progress for my daughter. Our morning routine process isn’t perfect yet but implementing this Lean methodology has certainly helped make leaving the house in the morning less chaotic. My daughter only forgot her Chromebook once this school year!

Little improvements like this can help create better flow in your life, whether it’s at home or in your workplace. How can you apply Lean thinking to improve your life?

Lean-led Design Expert