decluttering, drEAming, fEAsible, nEAtening, organising, random thoughts, rEArranging, simplifying, taking stock

learning to live a little leaner…

My final day at work yesterday for a whole week – yay! – I am winding down today but as soon as I can pack a few things and jump in the car on Saturday we are headed for Scotland.  Of course we will have to stay in a rented cottage as our own is still not ready (or even close) but we will be able to go in the garden which has probably reached jungle proportions by now.

After my initial decluttering of the toiletries, my underwear drawer and the cleaning products I have ground to a bit of a halt and nothing much is getting done in the house at the moment due to my continuing heavy work commitments.

You may remember my post in February about work and how I had decided to leave but I was asked to stay if they could make things better; well rather than winding down towards retirement it seems my ‘career’ is having a sudden late onset revival and after agreeing to stay on I have been promoted this week!  It is actually the same job in essence with a new title.  Although I think much more will be expected of me  – earning my keep as it were,  and I keep wondering if I really want this right now but I won’t make that decision until I have tried it out.  I have been given full authority to sort out our department (I can’t say too much about this here as it is a touch political) and make it more efficient and organised.  A bit like decluttering I think!

With all this organising, decluttering and efficiency required both at home and work I have been reading a lot about the Lean methods used by the Japanese and I must say it makes sense to me.  Although the principles of Lean refer more to the manufacturing process and giving customer value you can use these same principles to apply to your life or other situations.  Lean concentrates on adding value – if your activities do not add value then they are wasteful in Lean terms.

Below in bold are the main ‘wastes’ associated with Lean and are taken from Lean for Dummies Cheat Sheet.

Consider the questions of each type of waste which have been translated by me into the more domestic situation of Household Management – are you able to identify with any of my wastes or perhaps you have different issues.

Apologies here to any truly Lean followers if my interpretations are a little loose. 

  • Overproduction

    – do you provide more information than is necessary or spend unnecessary amount of time on paperwork? Do you overproduce generally creating future waste?

Whenever you produce more than you need, you are creating waste.

Buying too much, making too much, storing too much can all be examples of waste in the home.  When we waste we end up throwing the waste away.  A lot of effort can be put into buying, making and storing and this is needless if you end up with waste.

I thought about this question with regards to my emails and paperwork.  My emails can be wordy – perhaps my posts are too – don’t answer that one!

In respect of the paperwork – it takes a long time – I have a lot of it – files and files in fact – do I need to hang on to it?

I also thought about the overproduction involved in managing the grocery shopping and cooking.  There is no doubt good meal planning prevents waste but can the act of meal planning be simplified by doing one menu for the month for each season – then that is it – no more planning.

Could I simplify our accounting in some way – I love my money program but is it really necessary to know where every penny was spent?  I am working on this one.

  • Waiting

    – do you spend too much time waiting for information from others or is there a time lag between production steps?

I can identify here with the time lag – I have time lag between washing and ironing the clothes and the putting away – so our house constantly resembles a Chinese laundry (am I allowed to say that these days?)

We do not wash up immediately after eating in the evenings (bad habit)

We constantly buy things and then do not get to use them – instances of this are all over the house from those little flossing brushes to a whole bathroom suite.

  • Inventory

    – work in progress – Do you have large stocks of materials and is your work in process inventory too high?

Obviously after seeing all my cleaning products together I can only say yes to this and a lot of the other ‘stuff’ in my life.  The garage is testimony to this along with the craft items, an oversupply of food in the cupboards and freezer.  I also have half-finished craft projects and maintenance projects on the go.

  • Transportation

    – Do things flow efficiently.  Could you combine deliveries or deliver things more quickly?

This can cover a number of household issues from the flow of a room – how you might organise the kitchen for instance – to the flow of doing tasks and combining errands and tasks.

Decluttering I find actually helps the flow.  Far too often I find that I am keeping things in the wrong place because something else is resident in the right place.

  • Overprocessing

    Do you needlessly work on something more than once?

Almost certainly – the constant decluttering for instance!  I might also begin something that I cannot finish and then have to come back to it later and start over.

  • Motion

    – how is work passed along the team – do people understand what is required at each step?  Do people and equipment move between tasks efficiently?

We are a team of two normally and will be once again when team daughter and partner move out LOL.  I do not think the housework is split 50:50 in our team of two.  Hubby works longer hours than me so it would seem unfair.   Hubby is generally on waste management and fix and repair, whilst I am on meal planning and production, laundry production and household maintenance and cleanliness.  It is hard to ‘pass along’ on a team of two – although I can think of a good example of this where I generate the waste and hubby moves it!  I think co-ordination could work better and I believe a bit more effort to take note of what is required at each step  – the finishing off process – would not go amiss.

  • Defects

    – how often do you find mistakes – do you make the same mistakes on a regular basis?

Oh I definitely think we do in this household – even something as simple as the washing up inspection when dishes are rejected as not properly clean and need to be done again, or items of clothing not put out in time for washing and are not included in the wash.  Receipts not being presented on time when I am trying to balance our accounts, shopping put away in the wrong place and has to be swapped around, out of stock items not being put on the shopping list ready for the weekly shop and toilet rolls not being replaced by the last user – need I go on!

  • Workforce

    – do you use time wisely?  Do you spend most of your time on activities that add value and are a high priority?

Obviously not as I am writing this post now when I should be maintaining the house and packing!


Reading both Marie Kondo’s book on decluttering, the Zero Waste Home and the Minimalists book I can see how Lean fits into all these concepts quite well.  Tightening up on all the above areas of waste could make life simpler and my stuff more manageable.  I am certainly going to give this a lot more thought over the Easter break and look at how I can apply a no waste policy to our household.



Have a good Easter x






15 thoughts on “learning to live a little leaner…”

  1. Congrats on the promotion. And enjoy your Easter break.

    Reading the lean, I’m like, oh my god, nodding, nodding, that’s me. Offer too much info? Yes, long posts (yours are fine, by the way), too long on the phone, too chatty when I run into people.

    Till I got to errors. Thought that’s not me. Then you broke it down. Yes, I lose receipts. Oh, yes I make errors.

    So I definitely need some lean in my home and household routine. Why can I be so efficient and lean at work, yet so not at home?

    Great post!


    1. At this precise moment I am sitting in the living room of a cottage that we have rented in Scotland near to our almost derelict one! This place is wonderful – spacious, clean and beautifully decorated – just what I need for a weeks holiday. However getting here with everything but the kitchen sink was a bit of a stressful nightmare. We did not pack until this morning, then had to bring two pairs of hubby’s jeans straight out of the washer with us because I forgot to check if they were clean yesterday – they are drying on a radiator now LOL, we had to do a detour round by my daughters to drop off baby L’s easter bunny as I didn’t have time to put it in the post – all this just shouts that I definitely need Lean in my life.


      1. Yes, I vote ‘normal’ too!

        But it would be wonderful to use the points in your post to stream-line things. It would mean so much less life stress. I love this post – great time-management tips!

        Congrats on the promotion!!


  2. Congratulations on your promotion. I will have to take those lean questions to work too! Hope you are having a good time up in Scotland. I’m glad you have managed to get into your cottage garden, hope the back has recovered! Sarah x


  3. As someone who works in manufacturing, I loved your comparison to the home. It’s funny how I used to compartmentalize ‘work’ and ‘home’ but now since I do them both from the same place, I see them colliding all the time. I’m reading “Better than Before” by Gretchen Rubin in hopes that I can create good, long-term habits to address this! Enjoy Scotland!


  4. Congratulations on the well-deserved promotion. Clearly they value your gifts, and that alone must feel good. I hope it’s enough to sustain you and make things a better fit at work.

    I read Marie Kondo’s book on the plane and have passed it on to a friend. There were a few things I didn’t agree with or find practical (like emptying my purse every day) but I like her approach and her idea that you only need to tidy once (on a big scale), then should be able to maintain from there.

    Just this morning I asked my teenage sons to bring me the clothes they’re no longer wearing, and the piles were a testament to letting them make the decisions. I’ll take the items to a local charity shop, as they are all in excellent shape.

    It is so nice following your journey here.


    1. Thank you – I find I am having to work even longer hours at the moment since my promotion which is not the way I wanted to go – but hopefully things will get better soon and I can get back to my decluttering.


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