Top Tips for Organizing Small Spaces the 5S Way

How long does it take you to find what you need to complete a specific task in your workspace?

Sure, your space is limited – but your time is valuable. Why continue to waste productive time searching your workspace for the items you frequently use?

If you’ve ever wondered how a space so small can become such an unorganized nightmare, then these 5S tips are for you!

5S practices are designed to help you maintain a workspace that’s effective, efficient, and functional. Below you’ll find a brief overview of what 5S’s mean, and practical tips to help you succeed.

  1. Sort (Seiri)– The preferred strategy is to take everything out of the office, closet, vehicle – whatever the small space is and to start with a “blank slate”, then only bring back what you need – not what you’re emotionally attached to. You could red tag items to identify what doesn’t bring value, that hasn’t been used for a while, and/or needs to be disposed of – like clutter and waste.

Smart Tip: Before you start, take pictures of your environment and again afterward to showcase improvements. Use these pictures in two different ways: 1) to help you determine the next set in order phase; 2) to influence your coworkers to have a cleaner and more productive workstation.

  1. Set in order (Seiton) – Now that you know what you need, it’s time to put what you have back in order – this is the real organizational stage. This step focuses on storage, labeling, and location methods. Using ergonomic principles to locate items where they minimize movement and reduce stress is important, as well. Example, use shelves, containers, labeling, or tool shadow boards to keep your items in order.

Smart Tip: Things to consider: Where are the most logical places to keep items? Storage containers and/or visual displays provide great organizational lean efforts. Remember, frequently used items need to be placed in near for easy access.

  1. Shine (Seiso) – Just like the community refrigerator at work – you can’t clean it once and ignore the untouched leftovers – it’ll start to smell. Your workspace, although small, still requires frequent cleaning, organizing, and up keeping – otherwise it’ll become an unorganized, dysfunctional, and smelly space.

Smart Tip: Make it your daily duty to inspect your workspace to ensure everything is in the appropriate place. Remember, a place for everything and everything in its place.

  1. Standardize (Seiketsu) - Make sure the top three stages of 5S are becoming a habit so standardization is attainable. When you consistently place your tools, clipboards, and work supplies in the correct places, you'll know where to find them right away. Because who wants to waste valuable time trying to find that tool again?

Smart Tip: Create a simple inventory checklist and put aside a few minutes before you leave the shop and check that everything is where it should be.

  1. Sustain (Shitsuke) – The fifth and final phase requires proper support from the entire company. In this phase, routine inspections are 100% necessary to reap all the benefits of 5S practices.

Smart Tip: Conduct 5S audits to measure any faults in the process. If you’re still struggling to find the tools you need, review all phases to find what steps need extra work.

  • Bonus Tip: Remain flexible and adopt new procedures as you see fit so you can make 5S part of your daily routine.

Think of organizing as your friend - it exists to help you maximize your work day – but you can’t get there without the 5S steps and tips above. With 5S practices, your daily work routine will become easier to manage and you’ll become more productive. So what are you waiting for? Start using these tips today! 

Remember, your friends at are always here to help you and provide a full range of 5S-related products.

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