The Toyota Production System was developed to maximize efficiency on the auto production line, but some of its guiding principles — "just-in-time" and "built-in-quality" — can be applied to daily life as well.
Sure, the every day routines of individuals and families are vastly different from a manufacturing process where the similar tasks are repeated at a high frequency. People are not machines, and it's important to have space and time to adjust, connect, be spontaneous and enjoy the lighter moments in life all while accomplishing daily tasks.
Here are five steps to follow as you try to manage your daily workload and make it more efficient.
1) Assess what needs to be improved. Ask yourself: What really needs improvement? What's causing confusion? What's wasting time and effort?
2) Sort, stabilize, sweep/shine, standardize and sustain. At Toyota, we call this "5S." It's a methodology for organization that can be applied to an area such as a work space to maximize effectiveness.
3) Consider bulletin boards for yourself or your family where you can map out tasks in a clear, visual way. (See how New Tech City applied it to podcast production here.)
4) Analyze your habits and routines. Use and improve them to make them smoother and apply "built-in-quality" and "continuous flow." That means taking an inventory of what tools you need to do a task like laundry, dishes, or washing your car and then listing out a sequence of events to follow.
So here's how it could work in action with a simple example.
"Built-in Quality" Applied to Cleaning Your Home
Look for a process or routine that your family does on an ongoing basis. Take a look at the chore closely so it can be executed more effectively. Take cleaning the family room as an example.
1. How often should it be cleaned?
2. What cleaning supplies are needed?
3. What parts can adults do? What parts can the kids do? Make a list of what needs to get done that's broken down into these parts.
4. How long should it take? This is helpful to know to understand whether your ahead or behind in achieving your goal of completing the task.
5. Once the job is done, ask yourself: Was the job completed to your satisfaction? Why or why not?
Achieving efficiency is a process, not a simple fix. It takes iteration, awareness and constant adjustment to find the right flow. Hear more about applying Toyota's principles of efficiency to daily life and, in particular, Manoush Zomorodi's daily work routine in the latest New Tech City podcast.