Getting Things Done with 5S

I am working on my "Getting Things Done" techniques, reading the 43Folders blog and the 43Folders WiKi to learn to refine and fine tune my Getting Things Done chops. This in itself is a continuing Project with many more than Two Action Items. I think about the core tenets of GTD and can't help but see a strong parallel to the structures of Zen. One metaphor of concentration and focus in GTD is having a "Mind Like Water". That echos the "Be Here Now" and "When you wash the dishes, Wash the Dishes", of Zen. I recently came across the techniques of 5S and saw the connection to GTD.

In reading the 5S literature, the techniques are most often applied in the industrial and manufacturing world. It ties in with the teachings of W. Edwards Deming, the man that brought the idea of "Do it once, do it right" to the shop floor. He is credited with making the Japanese into the creative industrial giant that it is today. These principles can be applied to Getting Things Done with little change. There are just 5 points, hence the name 5S. To stay within the Zen context I will use the Japanese words for the title of each point;

SEIRI: Create Tidiness. Throw away all unused stuff, file away the rest.

SEITON: Keep everything at the right place. Keep the tools you need accessible, hide materials you don't need regularly.

SEISO: Keep your workspace clean, remove all traces from the previous tasks before starting the next.

SEIKETSU: Develop a personal sense for organizing your things. Develop routines, optimize your system according to your needs.

SHITSUKE: Stay disciplined doing the above, make it a habit and a permanent practice.

It is easy to see how these are applied to making widgets, cameras, cars, or countless other objects made by man or machine. The Geeks and Programmers will see these as valid habits to cultivate. All of these can be applied to the GTD Method.

SEIRI: Collect all of your inputs and dump them into your inbox.

SEITON: Keep all of the items on your lists in the proper context.

SEISO: Keep your mind and your workspace clear of Open Loops.

SEIKETSU: Develop a system that you trust and works for you.

SHITSUKE: Stay disciplined doing the above, make it a habit and permanent practice.

In the world of the "Knowledge Factory and the Information Worker", the creative and the thinker all of these are techniques that bring organization, structure and thereby calm, peace and more time to enjoy a latte, write in our Moleskines and Filofax with our Monte Blanc and Space pens. This is time to be more creative in our lives and our work. Please let me know what you think. Thanks, Jim.

[composed and posted with ecto]