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Five ways to apply LEAN to your personal life

Five ways to apply LEAN to your personal life

By now you must have heard of it, LEAN management is the new way to go. Eliminating waste is the buzzword. We do not want it anywhere on the work floor, but neither do we want it in our Lion’s den at home. But then how can we apply LEAN in our personal lives?

First let’s explain what LEAN is and why would I want this in my personal life? The LEAN philosophy aims to maximize customer value and eliminate waste. The forms of waste LEAN considers are related to labour, overproduction, space, defects, unnecessary human motion, inventory and transportation. So LEAN methods are based around simplicity and not overdoing anything, not wasting any efforts. More importantly, it revolves around continuous (self) improvement. Applying this to your personal life could save you time and effort, but still keep your personal projects effective and fun. Wouldn’t that be ideal? Let’s get into five ways of applying LEAN tools to your personal life.

1.     Visual management for your physical progress

Trying to get and stay fit can be quite challenging. Instead of tracking your progress by checking your weight, try to track your progress by taking weekly pictures of your body on your phone. For the picture, make sure to wear the same top and shorts and stand in the same pose every time to see the best results. While your weight can fluctuate, the number on the scale can be quite deceiving when it comes to your fitness progress. Another way to apply visual management is by making a dashboard regarding your fitness and health. Examples of elements and graphs to include in your dashboard:

  • A histogram with the number of workouts per week, extra fun to do with your significant other or friends. A little competition never hurt anyone. Putting this data into a boxplot also gives you visuals on your best and worst weeks, which will be shown as the outliers.
  • A line graph with weeks on the X-axis and body fat percentage on the Y-axis. With this graph you can track your fat loss.

This dashboard is made in Microsoft Excel. For the Windows users among us, Excel worksheets can be imported into Microsoft PowerBI (free to use) for even nicer visuals. 

2.     Create flow and establish pull in your fridge

Treat your fridge like a one-piece flow. The concept of one-piece flow means moving one object between two work cells. This way the objects flows through the work cells and do not accumulate in a certain spot. In this case, one-piece flow entails that you may only buy groceries for your fridge that are directly required for your meals. Inventories, or in this case groceries are not allowed to build up and possibly go to waste. This way all your groceries are used up and will maximize their value. Jamie Oliver’s saving tips can help out a lot with the execution of a LEAN fridge.

3.     5S to tidy up your Lion’s den

Having a clean house to come home to after work is one of the best feelings in the world. But how does one decide whether clean is clean enough (I mean, let's be real, we do not want to waste time over cleaning)? Try to use the 5S tool to define the standard of the cleanliness of your living space. 5S stands for: Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain.

To give you an example:

  • Sort all the clutter and prioritize it by frequency of use.
  • Set all items in order. The ones that are not used on a daily basis have to be stored in a place where they are not visible. Having a sorted storage system, labelling boxes in an Ikea Kallax shelf unit can be an option.
  • Shine up the place by dusting all surfaces.
  • Standardize the process by doing it on a certain day in the week. In addition, make a checklist with all the cleaning activities.
  • Sustain the routine by setting a weekly reminder on your phone.

A combination of 5S with visual management can also be applied. For instance, clean the space and put all items in their intended place to subsequently take a panorama picture. By taking a picture, it will be easy to figure out where everything goes and visualised your cleanliness standard.

4.     Set based strategy for holiday destinations

Having a busy schedule, calls for some holiday time to unwind. It can be quite challenging though, to pick out the right time and the right destination for a specific time of the year. Using the “set based strategy” means that several alternatives will be elaborated on until the very last moment. In this case specific make a top 3 of holiday destinations, gather information on the recommended seasons of the destination. Instead of focussing on only one destination, multiple alternatives are researched with a set of criteria. At the last moment, when it is actually time to pick the destination, you will have plenty options that all have been explored thoroughly and meet the criteria. Maximize your holiday fun by preparing with this strategy!

5.     The LEAN purse

Last of all, the LEAN philosophy can be applied to your handbag. We all know the drill: you pick a handbag, put in the essentials, and at the end of the week your bag feels more like a kettlebell rather than a purse. Only to come to the conclusion, when clearing away all the stuff that has accumulated in the bag, you’ve basically dragged along five lipsticks, three packs of mints, and four kinds of chargers. To avoid dragging your entire life we only need to bring what is necessary and leave all other stuff out. Start with an essentials purse and expand according to the day’s activities:

  • Daily purse: wallet, phone, keys, earphones, lip balm, mints.
  • Work: laptop, charger, work phone, access card, water bottle, notebook, pen.
  • Working out: towel, membership card, shoes, outfit, water bottle.

I know what you men are saying: "What about a LEAN closet? You don't need that much stuff!" Well believe me when I say (on behalf of all women): YES, WE DO! If you would like to read more on the LEAN philosophy, check out LEAN for dummies. Just curious, were you familiar with the LEAN philosophy and how would you apply this to your life?

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