Many large companies have a program based on Japanese principles of minimizing waste of time, effort and product in manufacturing. I’m going to be trained in this, so I’ve been grazing over the materials, and I have to tell you, I’m psyched.
I am, you may have noticed, an organization nerd. A neatness fanatic. There is just nothing as peaceful as when everything is in its place, and every one of those places makes sense. (Get your rush however you want. I get mine organizing. Shh.)
And so, it was with joy singing in my heart that I read this quote by Taiichi Ohno, who created the original lean-manufacturing system at Toyota.
“Make your workplace into a showcase that can be understood by anyone at a glance.”
We’d’ve been pals, me and Taiichi. I’ve learned from examples, good and bad, to develop a very similar belief.
In one job, I had two bosses who each worked by a particular philosophy. The first believed that her desk should be clear at the end of every day. The second believed that he should work each day so that if he was hit by a bus, someone could come in next morning and pick up seamlessly where he’d left off.
On the other hand, growing up, my father had family over twice a year, and he always took on massive, heavy-duty cleaning and DIY in the days before, leaving him with big bills, skinned knuckles, scabbed knees, sore muscles, and very little money or energy to enjoy his visitors when they arrived.
And so, I keep my work organized and nearly paperless, and my home such that I can sanely welcome guests anytime. (Although, of course, nobody’s perfect.Â As I write this, there’s a bag of sweaty sparring gear in my entry waiting to be cleaned, and I wouldn’t wish that on any visitors. Worse, my office/study/library is in the midst of a redesign and is therefore full of old furniture, new furniture, not-yet-assembled furniture, and all of the contents of all of those pieces piled on and around them. It looks like the “before” in those TLC shows that shame hoarders into repentance, and much of it is indeed papers and books. But life is a journey of improvement, yes?)
Anyway, in addition to soothing my obsessive soul, neatness isn’t just window dressing, as my buddy Taiichi understood. It makes life easier.
Even with little things: like, my house keys go in the dish near the door. Sure, this looks nicer than if I throw them wherever, but that’s not the point. More importantly, I can leave without running around digging through coat pockets and couch cushions to find my keys. They’re always in that one place.
You can make life prettier AND easier with the same changes. I love that.