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Monday, May 16, 2011

Lean at Home: My Visual Schedule

I am often asked if I practice Lean at home. In my experience true Lean practitioners don't separate home and work.  They can't shut it off.  They are trained to find waste and put countermeasures in place to improve the situation.  I am continually teaching my family about Lean so we can make things easier  and better.

I thought I would share one example of Lean from our home. My wife and I are very busy with our 3 kids between the ages of 4 and 8. There are school activities, sports, church activities, scouting, youth hockey association (board members), and parent-teacher association (wife is treasurer).  This is probably like most households with young kids.  It is extremely important that we are organized and have a plan.  We use a central calendar on the fridge to keep track of all our activities.

The calendar is simple but the color coded writing tells a message:
  • Black - family meals, we plan out the plan out the entire week on Sunday
  • Red - Kid activities or meetings that we need to go to
  • Blue - Tasks, things we must due by these dates
This helps keep us organized, forces us to plan ahead, communicate our plan, and keep our sanity.

Do you practice Lean at home?  Share your experiences in the comments section.

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  1. Nice colour coded calendar. We plan our meals out as well, but I hadn't thought of writing them on the calendar. Might be good for the kids, so they can see when their favourite meals are coming up.

  2. It keeps the kids from asking what is for diner a dozen times.

  3. That calendar might be effective, but I think it's a bit of a stretch to call it "lean." Not all things that are good or visual are really "lean."

  4. Anonymous, Hard to have a conversation without a name. Anyway, I would agree not all things are good and Lean is not just about visuals. I like to think of it as a problem solving methodology that requires everyone to participate. In this case the schedule creates binary communication, a weekly plan for meals (flow), and increase productivity from an organized plan. To me that sounds Lean.

  5. Tim, I think this is great, for two reasons:

    1) It ensures your children are getting an education in organisation. Thats really important.
    2) Creating a system that holds all the familys best practices is fantastic. Important family time is not left to chance in the midst of busy weeks, but is scheduled to make sure you spend time with the people who matter most.

  6. I know this is an old post that you shared since you are off enjoying your vaca but I just had to comment.

    We don't have kids but I really like this calendar. I have always considered myself and my husband pretty well organized but lately with our schedules I feel like some things are being left to chance and sometimes meals feel like an after thought. I also feel like sometimes we are doing batch work when we are doing things like chores and tasks around the house whereas if we made a diligent effort to spread them out during the week, that would probably make both of us much happier. Also, if he could pick which tasks he wants to do in any given week, it would feel less like a "honey do list."

    Thanks for sharing and hope you had a nice trip.