Floor Tape Store

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Is Disorganization Holding You Back?

Many of us think we are organized and are not aware of how the contrary affects us. It is not always obvious how disorganization is affecting the quality and efficiency of your work.  Let's try is this short test to see if you are disorganized:

1. Do you spend a large part of your day looking for things, rummaging through piles, files, and drawers?
2. Do you forget important appointments and important tasks?
3. Do you spend less than 60% of your day focused on your most valuable tasks?
4. Have you missed deadlines or been late with responses to requests?
5. Do you complete lower priority task first?
6. Have you led a meeting without sending an agenda or missed to follow-up with minutes?
7. Do you have action items on your To-Do list that have been there for a while?
8. Have you discovered papers that needed your attention ages ago and now it is too late?
9. Do you have trouble retrieving files easily when needed?
10. Does it take you a while to find a key contacts information when you need it?

If you can answer yes to any of these questions then disorganization may be causing poor job performance. Being disorganized affects job performance and how others perceive you. Being disorganized can cost you and your company money, time and customers.

You've probably heard the saying, "Time is money."  Let's consider the cost of disorganization for you and your employer for a moment.  For example, suppose you are just spending one hour a day looking for things and your pay just $20 an hour.  In one week you have cost $100 and over a yearly period of 50 weeks (with two weeks off for vacation) the cost to your bottom line is $5,000.  Now, if your business has 100 employees and each of them is wasting one hour a day for 50 weeks of the year your bottom line is impacted to the tune of $500,000. Wow, that is a lot money!

There are other costs to you and the organization like buying duplicate and triplicate of things you can't find now only to locate them later.  Missed deadlines can result in customer dissatisfaction, missed product launches, and lost revenues.  Time is probably the largest impact to you and your company since it can never be replaced.

If you're always wading through clutter, misplacing key information or losing things in plain sight, then you need to start getting organized.  An organized space is simply one in which the things you need the most are close at hand, the things you need often are easily found, and the things you need rarely are out of the way but easily retrieved when needed.  The old adage often found in 5S describes an organized space as "a place for everything and everything in its place." You should be able to find things when you need them so you don't waste more time and money duplicating your efforts. That means that organization has to meet your needs, not some imposed notion of cleanliness.

Don't wait for something to happen, make something happen.  Apply 5S to organize your life and work area to gain efficiency.  5S originates from Toyota and is defined in English (and Japanese):

Sort (Seiri)
Set (Seiton)
Shine (Seiso)
Standardize (Seiketsu)
Sustain (Shitsuke)

5S is a process and method for creating and maintaining an organized, clean, and high performance workplace.  It enables anyone to distinguish between normal and abnormal conditions at a glance.  5S can be the foundation for continuous improvement, zero defects, cost reductions and a more productive work space.  The 5S methodology is a systematic way to improve the workplace, processes and products through employee involvement.

Staying organized will save you time and money and allow you to focus on your tasks effectively thus increasing your personal productivity.  Don't let disorganization hold you back.

If you enjoy this post you may want to connect with me on Linkedin or follow me on Twitter.  You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.  For those Facebook fans join A Lean Journey on our facebook fan page.


  1. Great post, and very timely! My desk was starting to look a bit like the picture above and on Sunday I took the time to sort, set, shine & standardize my office space. I've used labels to mark where specific office products belong and created visual ways to see what priorities I have. Now the hardest part - sustain!
    Thanks again,

  2. Tim,

    I call the phenomenon in your picture 'Flat Surface Syndrome'. Some people find clear space anxiety-provoking, and feel the need to cover it up.

    I always love when people run the numbers like you did. Amazing how quickly waste adds up.


  3. You'd be surprised how Toyota, who set off with 5S, now is one of the most disorganised organisations in the automotive industry. Good policies only are valid when there are the best leaders implementing same.

  4. Holly, did you take any photos as examples we can share with others? I am glad it helped at least in some way to motivate your improvement.

    Jeff, I will have to remember that one and steal shamelessly.

    Fernando, I think Toyota has made some mistakes recently. But if you look at their contributions to manufacturing in general. They are the probably the single most influential company in the last 50 years. I believe they will learn from their mistakes and they will be better for it in the future. Good improvements do come from good people.