5S Sweep � Improving Your Environment In Just 2 Minutes5S Sweep � Improving Your Environment In Just 2 Minutes

You might be an organized individual but there is a difference between being organized and being clean. Believe it or not, you can have one without the other, however it�s optimum when they�re combined. Those familiar with 5S and Lean Office techniques recognize what is referred to as the 5S process. Those steps include:
1. Sort
2. Straighten
3. Sweep
4. Standardize
5. Sustain

As Toyota refined their Lean Manufacturing methodology they paid close attention to the maintenance of their assembly line equipment. In time they saw the number of breakdowns decrease but also the cost to repair a breakdown decrease as well.

In offices today cleaning crews are scheduled to come in at night to empty garbage cans, vacuum the floors and clean the bathrooms. They do not, however, pay close attention to the amount of dust collecting on the top of your filing cabinet, the dust bunnies living amidst your computer cables, or the dirt collecting on �stuff� piled throughout your office. They also completely tune out the layers of sticky notes lining the perimeter of your computer screen or bulletin board.

In the Sweep category a clean space consistently insures quality and efficiency. The catch phrase often used for the Sweep step of 5S is �The best cleaning is to not need cleaning.� I wish my teenage son could grasp this concept for his bedroom.

Here�s your challenge: Take two minutes � that�s only 120 seconds � and do one of the following items. You�ll probably love the outcome so much that you�ll take additional time to tackle more.

� Wipe down all flat surfaces with a damp paper towel or anti-bacterial cloth. Studies have proven that there are 400 times more bacteria on your desk and phone than on a toilet seat.

� Remove programs on your computer that you never use. To view a list of existing programs, click on the Start button > Control Panel > Programs > Uninstall a Program. If you�re unsure of what a program does, speak with someone in your IT department before removing it from your machine.

� De-clutter your computer desktop. Review the icons and shortcuts on your computer screen. Remove those that you no longer need/use. For the remaining icons, arrange them on your computer desktop so you can easily find what you�re looking for. I.e. Cluster Word documents in one corner while arranging spreadsheets or PowerPoint presentations in another corner.

� If you have plants in your office make sure they are healthy ones. Wipe off dusty leaves with a damp cloth, remove dead leaves and stems and check for moldy soil and leaves.

� Dust/wipe off picture frames, knick-knacks or other items that gather dust but are rarely cleaned.

� Using a can of air or a product like Cyber Clean, clean your keyboard and the touchpad of your phone, fax machine and cell phone.

If you need a little motivation, ask yourself if you are �tour ready�. At any given moment, would you be proud to show your office to your customers or vendors? Perhaps a little cleaning is in order.
by Audrey Thomas
References and Bibliography
Audrey Thomas is a Minneapolis-based speaker, author, and Lean Office expert. Her most popular presentations are Entangled in E-mail, Getting Organized with MS� Outlook and Introduction to Lean Office. Thomas serves as the Past-President of the National Speakers Association-Minnesota. She can be reached at Audrey@OrganizedAudrey.com 1-866-767-0455. For more information go to: www.OrganizedAudrey.com or http://www.LeanOffices.com
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