The Japanese 5S Method to Harmonize Life

The Japanese 5S Method to Harmonize Life

Last update: 29 August, 2020

The Japanese 5S method is composed of five basic principles that can improve our quality of life. Said principles are built on two foundations: order and cleanliness. This Japanese technique can be applied in our work or personal life. Many companies choose to implement this method to increase their production and improve their processes.

Toyota implemented the 5S method in the year 1960 to guarantee a more organized, hygienic, and efficient workplace. The company sought to increase its labor productivity with the Kaizen method.

Since then, the 5S method is used in various organizations due to its wide dissemination. In addition, it can also be applied in the educational field since it encourages hygienic habits from an early age. Thus, its psycho-pedagogical foundation is based on promoting a cultural change in terms of cleaning habits that educational institutions impose.

What is the 5S method?

The Japanese 5S method is composed of 5 fundamental principles that begin with the letter S. Since it doesn’t require any prior preparation, anyone can apply this methodology in their daily lives. However, it’s important for people to be rigorous in order to maximize its results.

woman organizing her closet using the Japanese 5S method

The ideal thing to do would be to practice it in an orderly and systematic way. In fact, perseverance is one of the keys to this method. Let’s see what the principles are:


Seiri is a process based on leaving the unnecessary aside. The person makes an analytical effort to identify what they really need and separate it from those things that they feel only take up space. After classifying, the person should throw away everything they don’t use.

Another advantage of classifying things is that it allows people to identify elements that they need but don’t have. An established criterion you should use to know if the object is important or not is asking yourself when you last used it. If you haven’t used it in a year, it’s time to throw it away.

This way, the act of classification prepares the working material for the next stage, which is choosing the best place for each object.


This is the second stage. Organization is its main characteristic. It’s based on placing objects where they need to go as well as identifying those that are most important and placing them in more accessible places.

This will allow you to delimit and label certain classification areas. It’s all about organizing your entire workspace so you don’t waste time or energy looking for something specific.


In this stage, the person carries out the cleaning process. The idea is to remove all existing dirt and grime to be able to achieve a spotless workspace. The most important thing here is to identify what makes the place dirty and remove it.


It’s based on detecting anomalies and solving them to avoid generating a chain effect. This stage helps people remember just how important it is to keep places clean in order to avoid clutter.

Book shelf in the shape of a head.


Last but not least, you must establish a doctrine so you can keep on improving day after day through discipline. It’s important to always keep the 5S method in mind while doing your work. It’ll definitely help you remember all important keys: order, hygiene, and efficiency.

Applying the 5S method at work is a good way to take control of your space and optimize time. However, it’s important to bear in mind that you can apply this methodology in your personal life as well. Don’t be afraid to use classification, organization, and cleaning methods. They could facilitate your path to wellness.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.