LeanMail: 5S and One-piece-flow in your inbox

 In Effectiveness, Efficiency, LeanMail, Lifestyle, Productivity

LeanMail: 5S and One-piece-flow in your inbox

If you think about it, your inbox is a factory, and just like any other factory inventory represents a large avoidable cost. LeanMail employs one-piece-flow to avoid email inventory – one of the 7 Wastes in Lean.

Emails that are not being acted upon represent waste as inventory. Every email sitting in your inbox that could potentially be acted upon today – but is not, represents lost time and revenue. The goal then should be to ensure that every email in your inbox that could be actioned today is either going to be executed upon today or strategically planned for another date. Further, the most important and urgent emails should always be dealt with first.  Finally, this should be systemized to remove chances of defects and then sustained.

Here is how LeanMail applies 5S in combination with one-piece-flow:

  1. Sort. Remove waste unneeded mails; archive emails not requiring action; and prioritize the rest according to the Pareto Principle or 80/20 principle. (see it in action here)
  2. Straighten. Act upon the emails that take less than two minutes. Emails that require more time or that cannot be processed are given next actions (in order to avoid having to re-read the email and analyze again what needs to be done first) and deadlines according to JIT (just in time). (see it in action here)
  3. Shine. Review and make any necessary changes to priority or urgency before acting upon these emails throughout the day.
  4. Standardize. Repeat the same process periodically throughout the day.
  5. Sustain. Practice the same method every day – and every time you process email.


Michael Hoffman 

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