Home office organization, how do you keep it?

home office organization

Are you still working from home? If the answer is yes, then it may be a challenge to keep your home office organized.  I published some tips to create a home office area that maximizes productivity.  Today, I will focus on how to set up equipment and materials to keep them organized.  With them will be easier to keep your home office organization.

Set in order to create and keep the home office organization

Following the second 5S steps, Set in Order, assign the best location for the equipment and materials you need.  The frequency of use and ease of access and return determine the best place.  Most used items go closer to the user.  For example, if you use different color pens or highlights frequently, keep them on top of the desk and not in a drawer.

If you are using the space as your home control center, keep clear boundaries between both worlds. That is to say, do not mix work or home documents in your files. As a general rule, home or personal items should go farther from your work area.

Take advantage of the walls to hang calendars, whiteboards, or task boards.  Also, you can use shelves to keep binders, books, or folder organizers.   Open shelves are always better than cabinets because you see at a glance where your items are.  Similarly, if you need boxes, use them clear to see through.

Use drawer organizers or containers to keep small items in place.  Organize your drawers or shelves into categories.  The following are examples of frequent classifications.  

  • printing and filing supplies – paper, folders, index pages, binders
  • writing – pens, pencils, markers, highlighters, note pads, sticky notes
  • mailing supplies – envelopes, labels, stamps
  • tools – scissors, rulers, staple, staples remover, hole puncher

Use visual management to signal when something needs your attention

To manage your time better, you would like to minimize the searching time.  Therefore, it is a good idea to use labels or color-coding.  If you use cabinets or boxes to file or keep materials, label them to know what is inside.  If it is necessary to keep files at home, classify them.  For example, some divisions are budget, marketing, and inventory.  After that, establish a different color for each category.

The space you use as a home office is prime.  Maximize its use by avoiding excess office supplies inventory.  One way to do that is by creating inventory rules.  First, you set minimum and maximum levels for each item.  Then, mark the inventory limits to make them visible.   For example, use color paper to signal when you need more paper.  When you open the new rem, put a red or orange sheet at the appropriate height.  Once you take a bunch containing your mark, it is time to buy more.

When other family members are at home during your working hours, you need a system to communicate your availability.  To avoid interruptions, create signage to inform your status.  For example, that you are busy in a phone call or video conference.  You can use color-coding here too!  One sign that does not need explanation is the traffic light analogy.  Use green to signal that it is ok to knock on the door and yellow to inform that you are busy.  If it is red, it means that you are on a conference call.  Like with any other signage, communicate the purpose and meaning.

In conclusion, working from home requires the same organization and time management skills as working in the office.  The challenge is that the space is not off-limits to other members of the family. To keep the organization, you need to establish systems to identify at a glance and correct when something is out of place.  

Small Steps philosophy as a way of life

The first time I read Gemba Kaizen by Masaaki Imai, I was a junior manager responsible for several production lines.  The concept of improving processes by taking small steps at a time capture my attention.  It was the beginning of a never-ending learning process in continuous improvement.  I believe in this philosophy; it drives the way I work and make decisions.  I don’t remember when I started, but one day I realize that kaizen or the art of improving by taking small steps was my way of life.  I was learning and improving how I do things all the time.

Small steps as way of life 

After that realization, I started to consciously apply the basic concepts of some tools in my house.  For example, I started to use 5S to ensure I kept everything in my kitchen, closets, and garage organized.  My father learned that if he put things in their place, he wasted no time when he needed them again.  I also use kanban for my groceries to ensure that I don’t run out of my favorite items or over-stock the less used items.  Visual management becomes a staple in my calendars, inbox, and agendas.  

Over the years, I roll out my home CI initiatives to improve home tasks, from cooking to gardening.  I used PDCA to cut time, distance, and other types of waste.  The strategy I follow is to change things in small steps.  I create small steps by breaking a task into smaller pieces.  I do a plan for each assignment, test it, learn the result, and adjust.  

When I started gardening, I had no clue what I was doing.  In the beginning, I bought grown plants at local stores.  After work, I used to relax while taking care of them.  That was fun, but I wanted more. Therefore, I start reading and learning what types of vegetables grow in my area. The first year I took note of everything I did.  At the end of the season, I noted what worked and what didn’t.  I kept doing that every year, learning more and taking small risks at a time.  My gardening skills are much better now, and the number of vegetables harvested each season is growing.

Small steps to create or break a habit, or develop a skill

CI is useful for creating a habit, break a habit, or develop new skills.  The formation of a new habit has three steps, a trigger, the routine, and the reward.  Make sure that the new routine is a small step.  I know it works but, I could not explain why until I read the book One Small Step Can Change Your Life:  The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer.

In his book, he explains how to overcome fear and procrastination with seven small steps.  He also talks about how the reptilian brain governs the fight-or-flight response that keeps us alive in the face of danger.  When something triggers fear, this response kicks in to sabotage your intentions.  The trick to achieving change is to think of small steps.  Maurer recommends asking your brain what one small step you could take toward reaching your goal.  Small questions or small steps keep the fight-or-flight response in off position.

Fear paralyze us, use small steps to keep going

Fear or uncomfortable feelings keep us from doing things that we don’t like.  When you faced a situation you don’t like, the flight mode kicks in.  As a result, you ignore the event until you can’t anymore.  By then, it is a hot mess, only because you did not deal with it before.  It is better to listen to the warning signs and gut feelings that tell you that something is wrong. Once you recognized the warning, deal with a small problem and not a big one.    

A different way to see and do things

The secret to your success is to take small steps.  Sounds funny, even silly, but it works.  Before we learn to run, we learn to crawl, take one step while holding onto something, and then walk without help.  Breaking a task into smaller pieces makes sense.  It allows you to grasp the situation and deal with it with greater chances of success.  Many small wins add up to a big win.  Do not let fear paralyze you.  Keep going, one small step at a time.

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. Mark Twain

Getting organized at home


According to the site Days of the Year, January is the month to get organized.  Workplace organization is a recurrent subject for us in Better Process Solutions.  However, today I will focus on home organization. 

Home is where we go at the end of the day to wind down and recharge our batteries.  But we cannot accomplish that if the house is cluttered.  For instance, clutter is a significant source of stress in our lives.  

Why clutter affect us?  

Sherrie Bourg Carter wrote about why clutter causes stress in the Psychology Today blog.  In her article, she indicated that clutter blasts our minds with excessive stimuli.  As a result, our senses work overtime on stimuli that are not necessary or important.  She also mentioned that clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be.  Besides, it constantly signals to our brains that our work is never done.

As a result, our brain is switching focus from the task we intend to do to the clutter around us.  Every time we look at the mess, we start to have negative feelings.  For example, you can experience guilt or embarrassment.  Clutter causes anxiety and makes it more difficult to relax.

Benefits of getting organized at home

  • Reduced stress and anxiety levels.  
  • More time and space around the house.
  • Save money, because you will not buy things to replace what you cannot find or will not pay your bills late.
  • Be able to relax, focus on what is important, and be more creative.

How to get organized at home

One of my favorites continuous improvement tools is 5S.  5S is a five steps method for housekeeping and organization.  You can read how to organize your kitchen, closets, and garage in previous posts.  

Practicing 5S at home can be a fun way of getting organized.  When done in the workplace, 5S is a team activity.  The people that work in the area participate in the process and contribute with ideas.  You can do the same thing at home, with your spouse and kids.  


Clutter hinders creativity and productivity.  It increases your levels of stress and anxiety.  Not only that, looking at the mess around you will cortisol.  Elevated levels of cortisol cause depression.  Thus, practicing organization is a way to keep your mental health in check.

In addition, can help to control your weight.  While researching for this post, I came across the book Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight.  The author, Peter Walsh, build upon a study that showed that people with cluttered homes were 77% more likely to be overweight or obese.  He thinks the reason is that people can’t make their best choices in a cluttered, messy, disorganized home.

In conclusion, getting organized will help you and your family to be healthier, have more creativity and productivity, and enjoy each other.


Bourg-Carter, S. (2012, March). Why Mess Causes Stress: 8 Reasons, 8 Remedies.  [Blog post] Accessed 1/6/2021.  Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/high-octane-women/201203/why-mess-causes-stress-8-reasons-8-remedies

Mail handling, is that a hassle for you?

How to handle your mail efficiently

Remember the one-touch rule for emails? I indicated in that same post that it is useful for regular mail too.  Today, I will expand into the idea of a one-touch rule for mail handling. Before going into that, let me show you some fun facts.

Mail Fun Facts

  • In 2019 the USPS delivered 142.6 B pieces of mail, 75.7 B of them were marketing.
  • On average, Americans receive 605 emails and 16.8 pieces of mail every week.
  • 58% of the mail American households receive is marketing mail, this is about 454 pieces per year.
  • Periodical mail volume received and sent in the United States in 2019 was 4.2 B pieces.
  • Per USPS, 98% of people check their mail daily and Americans spend upwards of 30 minutes with their mail on a single occasion.

What types of mail do you receive most of the time?

Regardless you pick-up your mail daily or once a week, you need to create a process to handle it. Before you start to design it, learn what type of mail you receive.  Common categories for receiving mail are bills, invoices, letters, promotions, magazines, bank statements, and health insurance.  Do you need to file any of the documents you receive?  Anything that you would set aside to read later?

Create your mail handling system

For efficient mail handling, it is better to have a mail sorting and handling area.  In this area, you would need a desk or small table, a shredder, a trash can, and maybe a filing system.  Also, if you pick-up your mail daily but are going to manage it weekly, you would need a temporary storage area for it.     

The ideal situation is to touch your mail only once.  That is to say, that, if you pick-up your mail every day, you should handle it daily as well.  However, some of us do not have time to do this task daily.  If that is your case, it is ok to do it weekly, but you need to create the habit to do so.  For weekly sorting, you need an area to store the mail until that day.  For example, you can use letter trays or a wall mount letter holder.  

There are documents you need to keep. Therefore, you are going to need a cabinet. However, if you don’t have that many, you can use a binder.  For different categories, like pet’s vaccines records, house or auto, you can have one binder with divisions or multiple binders.  For more than one, you can organize them in a magazine holder or a kitchen baking sheet organizer.

If you have doubts regarding what you should file, this document from the Student Money Management Center of the University of Nebraska Lincoln contains a useful list of things to keep.

Schedule your mail handling time

One more step to design your system is to schedule when you are going to handle your mail.  For example, depending on your schedule, maybe a Saturday afternoon or Sunday evening would be ideal.  After deciding the day, estimate how much time you will need for this task.  You can start with one hour, and later you can adjust as needed.  

Schedule this task on your calendar to help you make the habit.  You can use a reminder for one hour or so before the time.  A reminder helps you to organize your time and set your mind on the upcoming task ahead.

How to sort your mail

First, read or browse each piece to decide what to do with it.  For example, you can determine to pay, call, or clarify information, put aside to read later, archive, destroy, or trash.  Second, act upon your decision to trash or destroy.  Keep a small trash can and shredder machine in the same area so you can dispose of everything that you won’t need right away.  For security reasons, you should use a shredder to destroy any document that contains personal

For other actions, you can create little piles with documents for reading, pay, and others.  Therefore, you are focus on the sorting task before moving on to the next step.  After that, you can start with your piles, one at a time.  

Benefits of a mail handling system

According to a study published in Harris Interactive, 23% of adults say they pay their bills late because they lose them.  When this happens, they also have to pay late fees.  Avoid this situation with a simple method like the one described above.  You can minimize the amount of mail you need to handle by going paperless.  Also, you can take advantage of autopay options.  

Another benefit of efficient mail handling is saving space and keep your documents organized.  All these ideas are common-sense. They are just a simple way to keep yourself organized.

How can you organize your garage?

Is your garage a mess? If the answer to that question is yes, you are not alone. Around 50% of homeowners rate the garage as the most disorganized place in the house. It is where garden equipment and tools, sports gear, and holiday decorations end up. Do you think there is not enough space in the house for all the stuff you have? The fact is that 80% of the clutter in most homes is a result of disorganization, not lack of space.

Use 5S to organize your garage

My recommendation is to 5S your garage. You know already that 5S is an excellent tool for organization and it works everywhere. Let’s use it for the garage!

Remove everything and place it on the driveway in like by like categories. Have an area for items that are either broke, don’t need, or you are not interested in keeping. As you removed things, ask these two questions: Do I need it? Do I need to keep it here? For example, the garage is not the best place to store your insurance and mortgage documents. Do you have a shack or closet outside where you can keep garden tools? Have an area for those items and set aside as well. Use a sign to indicate the future location or not needed status.

With the empty garage, you can see how much space you have available. Check the keep in the garage categories to have a sense of how much space you need. Think about the best way to store them and the best location. There are lots of garage organizing solutions on the market. Design the storage areas for the garage. What do you want to do? Do you want to park your car? Do you need a work area?

Examples of organizing ideas

  • Go vertical! Space is a high-end commodity, utilize it wisely. 
  • Create overhead storage for kayaks or bicycles, or to hang bins.
  • Hang heavy items from the wall using gear tracks and hooks. There are hooks of different sizes and styles for light or heavy stuff. Use them for power tools, ladders, hoses, and others.
  • Check on organizers for specific uses like a broom holder and garden tools organizer or a sports gear organizer.
  • Create a shadow board for the most used tools.
  • Use open shelving whenever you can.

Cleaning your garage

Although, you assign a place for everything first and then shine, this time it is a good idea to clean the garage first. It is easier to clean before you start hanging organizers and placing shelves. Pressure wash the garage, starting with the ceiling, walls, and finally the floor. If you don’t have a pressure washer, you can rent one or just use a regular hose. After the cleaning is done, you can paint the garage if you want. Avoid bringing back dirt and dust by cleaning shelves and toolboxes before moving them into place.

Put organizers and shelves in place and then move back in all the stuff you will keep. Start with what goes overhead and then move to the walls. While you put everything in its place, think again if you want or need to keep it. As a rule of thumb, anything that has not been used in the past year should be removed. Hopefully, by the end of this step, you can park your car inside the garage again.

Create some rules

For the standardization piece, you can create labels to indicate what goes where. I like shadow boards because they don’t need an explanation. They are easy to understand and use. If you plan to do some work in the garage, place a trash can to ensure all trash goes to the right place.

Decide what to do with those items on the not-needed pile. Options are: give it away, garage sale, donation, recycle, or trash. Do not move them back to the garage! Keep yourself a deadline to dispose of them. Put in place those items that you decided to locate somewhere else.

To keep the housekeeping and organization, put in the calendar a periodic inspection and cleaning of the area. Make this a family activity engaging everybody in the garage cleaning. That way, they will be more willing to cooperate in maintaining the organization and cleanliness. Now go ahead, open that door and let your neighbors see your state of the art garage. Enjoy!

How to show respect in the cell phone age.

Communication in the cell phone age

The other day I was browsing for pictures for one of my posts.  When I wrote the keywords communication and talking, most of the photos that I got back were people with cell phones or computers!  I know that the result depends on the algorithms used on that particular application, but yet, it was choking me. It drove my mind to think about a simple way to show respect in the cell phone age.

In what world we live, that all the talking is through electronic devices! A lot of the communication in and out of workplaces is through emails and text messages.  You look around, and all you see is people staring down at their devices.  You can see it everywhere, while in line in the supermarket, during break time, and even while in a restaurant with friends or loved ones!  We don’t talk anymore!  

What I am describing here, happens before COVID. Now, virtual communication is a blessing. But I am referring here to what happened before and for sure will continue after the pandemic restrictions are lifted.

Respect for the people, listen and be present

That situation kept me thinking about the continuous improvement tenet of respect for the people and how much we need to apply it to our lives.  I would be hypocritical if I don’t use the principles of CI to improve myself as a person.  Listening is the most basic way to show respect. If we seek to listen to our co-workers daily, why not with family and friends?  What happened with being present? 

Be present, even when not in the same place

This year, the holiday season is going to be harder than ever.  Many of us are going to be away from our families and friends.  Some will have a hard time putting themself in the celebration mood because they lost family members through this year, or a job, or their life savings.  

For all these reasons, it is important to reach out to family and friends.  We can revive those things from the past like a postcard or a handwritten letter.  We can send a care package full of love, simple things like a nice picture of better times, and some treats.  But the ultimate gift will be the gift of being present.  With some, you can be present through a simple phone conversation or any of those video applications.  With those living with you, be present by dedicating time without phones, tablets, or any other electronic devices.  Let’s practice the art of conversation and be present!

Enjoy the holiday season with less stress. This is how continuous improvement can help.

Before we know it, the holiday season will be here.  After such a tough year, we all need a break and the holidays can be just what we need, or not.  The holiday season is known for all the stress generated by all the tasks, activities, family and friends’ expectations, and for some of us, traveling.  This is true especially for those that hosts family reunions, office dinners, and friends’ get-togethers.  The stress can ruin your holidays, but it does not have to be that way.

We can use simple tools to plan and follow-up what we have to do before, during, and after those days. During that time, it is normal to feel all kind of feelings, from overwhelming with everything in your plate, to loneliness, if you will not have the chance to be with your loved ones, or even and overdose of togetherness.  Whatever it is the situation, decide with plenty of time what you are going to do, where, and with whom and start planning.

You can draw an estimate timeline using a normal calendar to mark when and where you will celebrate each activity and then go backwards to see when you have to complete each thing you need to do for the activity. You can follow these tips.

  • For each activity, start with the date and place that will celebrated.  
  • List all the things you need.  For example, if you are driving to see your family in Thanksgiving, what date you are going to drive, car maintenance, route, hotel reservations if needed, and others.
  • For each thing on the list, write an estimate range of days on which you should accomplish it.  Use a range rather than a specific date if it is possible because you are trying to avoid stress, not create more.  Be flexible with yourself, and realistic.
  • If you have several activities, you can use a different ink color for each one, a color code! This will facilitate to identify what belongs to what. 
  • Include time to create your shopping list, buy or do postal cards, and of course, shopping.
  • Prioritize those presents that needed to be mail, as during those days the mailing volume increases.
  • Mark in the calendar when those tasks should be completed following the color code.
  • At the end you will see everything that needs to be done each week.
  • To follow-up the items of each month, use a simple kanban board to know what is pending, doing, or completed.

At the end of the post, you can see an example.

Remember to include time to plan the menus, getting special items for the menu, and include the commuting time when visiting friends or family that lives a lot more than a few miles from your home.   Reflect about the meaning of the holidays for you and prioritize.  Again, you want to enjoy not to make this another work project.  Consider including in the calendar some me time, it is important to take time for you to release the stress reading a book, taking walks or schedule a massage. 

Using a schedule help you to see everything that you want or need to do.  Take a close look at your list, be honest, is it doable?  Be realistic, keep things simple.  I know you want everything to be perfect but when it comes to the holiday’s perfection is about the simple little things like a nice conversation with those loved ones that you haven’t see in a long time.  Nothing is more important than being present.

Home office, how to design the best one.

While the country is still struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses of all kinds and sizes are struggling too.  Many people are still working from home, in some cases, permanently.  The idea of having a home office suddenly becomes as good as having enough living space.  During the first couple of months of this emergency, many people were improvising a small space to work.  Now that it is a reality that you will be working from home either part-time or full time, it is time to stop improvising and start “building” your workspace at home.

Location of the home office

A workspace should be a space dedicated to work only.  Create the habit of working in this area only and do not leave any work items anywhere outside our workspace.  The ideal situation is to have a separate room but, not everybody has a spare room available.  It is helpful to practice 5S around the house to eliminate clutter and create more space.  You can transform an underutilized area like the guest room, the baseman, or even a corner or a wall in your room or garage.  If you have a nice shed with lighting and insulation, big enough to steal space for your office, that will work too!  

But before you choose the space, there are three things that you need to do, understand and learn the purpose of your office, your needs, and how to maximize productivity.

Understand the purpose of your home office

Take your time to plan and create your workspace.  Start with the purpose of the area, are you going to work on the computer only, or you will have conference calls?  Any chance of a video conference?  How about visitors?  What do you need from your internet service?  Are you going to use multiple web-based applications, VPN, firewall? Are you going to print or file documents? 

What do you need to accomplish your work?

Once you know the purpose of the area, think about your needs.  What do you need besides the basics like a desk, chair, and computer?  Be aware that I said needs, not wants.  We all want to have a modern, well-equipped office home, but do you need to have all the equipment you have available at your workplace? Create a list of what you need, what type of equipment, storage, cabinets, and others.  Do not forget internet service speed and reliability, electric outlets, and lighting.  Knowing all these things, you can estimate the space you will need.

Maximize productivity

After identifying what you need to accomplish the purpose of your home office, you are ready to choose the best space.  Know the area before you start moving or buying stuff to create the office.  Remember that even when you are home, you need to keep your productivity levels.  With that in mind, plan the layout and how you are going to use the space.

Consider some basic ergonomic rules, like the following.

  • The top of your computer screen should be at eye level or a little below. 
  • Position your keyboard so that your forearms are parallel to the floor. 
  • Adjust your chair so that your feet rest on the floor, or a footrest if you’re short.  

While planning the layout or how you are going to organize your equipment, follow these organization rules.

  • Set minimum and maximum limits for office supply items.  
  • Identify the best location for each item based on the frequency of use and ease of access and return.  Most used items go closer to the user.  
  • Incorporate 5S into the area from the beginning, use visual management.  Mark the location and inventory limits of each item visible.  Use color code for your filing system and create signage to communicate to your family that you are busy in a phone call or video conference, have visitors, or in time-out (no interruptions).

Create the right home office environment

Also, use these tips to create an environment for better productivity.

  • Privacy and the appropriate environment to foster concentration and productivity are critical considerations.  
  • Boundaries are necessary to keep separate home and office spaces.  You can use partitions and free stand dividers to create a physical limit.  
  • Also, thick carpets and drapes, bookcases, and plants will help to soundproof the area. 
  • Follow your work routines or create new ones, like getting dressed, work schedule (clock-in and out times), and time for your breaks.
  • To keep focus and feel connection with other humans, you can get out of your home office and work from the library, a co-work office, or a nearby cafe every once in a while.


Create your space and start using it.  If something does not feel right, change it.  The beauty of a home office is that you don’t need to ask for authorization to change things.  If you follow all the steps indicated before, you plan how to create the office, create the office, start using it and identify what did not work to change or adapt them.  

You just follow PDCA and 5S as guides to create the best workspace you can.  You can follow these same guidelines if you are in need of creating a space for your home-schooling child.  To create the best workplace at home start with understanding the purpose of the space, know your needs, and design the area to maximize productivity.   

How do you plan your days? What journal or agenda is the best to increase productivity?

Personal organization is as critical for success as the workplace organization is.  Being organized helps improve time management, which increases productivity.  There are so many electronic and hard-copy planners and agendas on the market to help you to organize your tasks and meetings, that it is easy to be confused.  I goggle planners, and I got 520 million results!  There are generic planners, customized, different sizes, colors, and formats.  They can be daily, weekly, or monthly.  Some are specific for projects, marketing, blogging, personal items, academics, and others.  Journals, agendas, or planners need to work for you if you work fine with any of those on the market fine, but if not, this article is for you.

Through the years, I used almost every planner or journal on the market while looking for my perfect match. I needed a system to plan, execute, and follow-up on my personal and business goals and projects.  I hated those planners with tight formats.  They pretend that every day, week, and month are the same!  You have plenty of space to write every task, meeting, and activity to the hour, but little to no space to write your thoughts or ideas.  You either end with a bunch of empty lines (which is waste) or give up on your attempt to organize your life.  The third option is to persevere, observe, learn, and design the system that works for you.  That is what I did.

Years ago, I learned about the Bullet Journal Method, created by Ryder Carroll.  His book, The Bullet Journal Method:  Track the Past, order the present, design the future, is an international best-seller.   The official web page describes the method as the mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system. For me, the best part was that finally, I had a tool that I can customize my way, that gave me total control of what I want to include, or not, how many pages I want or need for this week, or even be creative and write quotes, make drawings, or put a fun sticker here and there.  I could use the very formal, very bore classic black ink or as many colors as I want.

In the spirit of continuous improvement, I have been experimenting with different formats for years.  My goal is to have a planner-journal to keep me organized, productive, and mentally sane.  I managed to combine my entire self in one book, my personal life with bills payment included along with my business goals tasks and projects.  I have a very colorful, organized, and informative book that is as diverse as I am.  It works because I created a process to work with it, a standard that, if I follow, is effective to guide me through my days and help to plan, execute, follow-up, study, and redesign my tasks, projects, and goals from dream to accomplishment.

I start with my goals divided by quarters or by months.  That is my baseline for projects and other activities because it ensures alignment between goals and tasks.  Every month I listed my tasks, events, confirmed projects or contracts, personal appointments, and others.  Some of these goals come from my business plan and others from projects.  I allocated each entry within a specific week of the month.  At the beginning of every week, I will revise the corresponding list to add or delete items.  I decide which weekday I will work on each of those items.  Be realistic about the number of tasks you assign for a day, count with interruptions, unexpected meetings or phone calls, and things that don’t go as planned.  I found that my weekly tasks list is no more than six items, one for each day plus one, just in case I can get ahead.

You can create your system and design your agenda too.  Start with a plain, cheap school notebook, and draw whatever you want your agenda to be.  If you don’t like it, tomorrow create something else.  It took me years to get to a point where I feel good with what I have, but as a CI student and practitioner, I know that I will change it sooner or later.  The best planner or agenda, it the one that works for you! Do not give up, keep trying until you find the right one.

How good is your wardrobe or closet organization? Is it a good place for 5S?

wardrobe or closet organization

Every morning you stand in front of the closet looking at the clothes, wondering what to wear.  Probably, you have a couple of suits that you rotated every week.  The reason is not that you are trying to have a uniform or be practical, but because the closet is cluttered, and you cannot reach some areas.  You may have clothes that you have not seen in years.  If that is the case, then you need to work on your wardrobe or closet organization.

5S and your wardrobe or closet organization

All the house closets are perfect targets for 5S. However, this time I will focus on the bedroom closet. Follow the five steps for cleaning and organization, one at a time. The best way to see everything you have is to empty the closet. If you are using more than one, place all items in the same place to start sorting. When you finished sorting, decide the best location but do not put anything back until you clean the area. This time is going to be the best moment ever to vacuum and clean the entire closet. Find below a couple of tips for each step.


Sorting through the closet items should be an easy task.  Look out for these things that you can get rid of without hesitation. 

  1. Old clothing, shoes, and accessories that you never wear, either because you don’t like them anymore or do not fit.
  2. Mismatched socks
  3. Clothing that is either in bad shape, broken or stained.
  4. Eyeglasses with old prescriptions. 
  5. Old towels and bedding

You can do the following with the discarded items.

  • If the clothing is in good condition, donate it.  
  • Donate old eyeglasses.
  • Fix or have someone fixing for you those items with missing buttons, broken zipper, of need a little adjustment job.
  • If you have dogs, you can use towels and other linen for them.  You can also use some and donate the extras to your local shelter.

The wardrobe or closet organization is better when you Set in Order

  • You need to be able to see what you have without opening drawers or boxes.  Use open shelves and boxes when need it. 
  • Organize hangers to maximize the use of vertical space.  For example,  you can have blouses and shirts on top hanging space and below it another for skirts and pants.
  • Use drawer organizers and dedicate each drawer to one item type, for example, socks.
  • Divide your items by use or season, work clothes vs. home, summer vs. winter, and others.
  • If you have one available, you can designate one closet or space for bulky winter items.
  • Use shoe racks whenever possible, avoid using shoe boxes unless they are clear.  

Shine the area

  • Clean all shelves and hanging systems.  
  • You can paint the insides of the closet now.
  • Look for missing knobs, broken parts, loose screws, and other things.  Repair what you can and replace what you need.

Standardize your wardrobe or closet organization

  • You can use temporary labels to identify what goes where, at least until you get used to it.  Unless you do your laundry, you need to ensure that everybody sees, understands, and does the same.  

Sustain the results

  • You don’t need to wait until spring to clean your closet or wardrobe.  Put in a calendar to check your closet every other month or so.
  • As soon as you grab something that does not fit anymore, decide what to do with it.  If you do not want to get rid of things that fast, designate a small area to put those items and check them as part of your closet review per calendar.

To clean and keep the house clean is everybody’s responsibility.  You can make 5S a family activity, teach your kids how to do it, and have them check on their closets the same day you do.  Doing this regularly, you will avoid planning how or where to build additional closet space for your clothes.