What does 5S look like in the Digital Age?

5S in a Modern World

The digital age has brought many changes to the way we work, communicate, and learn. Technology has enabled us to access, process, and share information faster and easier than ever before. However, technology also comes with its own challenges, such as information overload, cyber threats, and digital distractions. How can we make the most of the digital opportunities while avoiding the digital pitfalls? One possible answer is to apply the principles of 5S to our digital environment.

5S is a lean methodology that aims to improve workplace efficiency, safety, and quality by eliminating waste and optimizing the flow of materials and information. The name 5S comes from the five Japanese words that describe the steps of the method: seiri (sort), seiton (set in order), seiso (shine), seiketsu (standardize), and shitsuke (sustain). Although 5S was originally developed for physical workplaces, such as factories and offices, it can also be adapted to digital workplaces, such as computers, smartphones, and cloud platforms. In this article, we will explore how 5S can be applied to the digital age and what benefits it can bring.


The first step of 5S is to sort through all the items in the workplace and keep only what is necessary and useful. In the digital context, this means to declutter our devices and online accounts from unnecessary files, apps, emails, bookmarks, subscriptions, etc. Sorting helps us to free up storage space, improve performance, and reduce stress.
Some tips for sorting our digital environment are:

  • Delete or archive files that are outdated, duplicated, or irrelevant.
  • Uninstall or disable apps that are rarely used or have negative effects on productivity or well-being.
  • Unsubscribe from newsletters, notifications, or social media accounts that are not adding value to our work or life.
  • Organize our bookmarks into folders or categories and delete those that are no longer needed or valid.
  • Empty our recycle bin and clear our cache regularly.

Set in order

The second step of 5S is to arrange the items in the workplace in a logical and convenient way. In the digital context, this means to create a system that allows us to easily find, access, and use the information and tools we need. Setting in order helps us to save time, avoid errors, and increase efficiency.
Some tips for setting in order our digital environment are:

  • Use descriptive and consistent names for our files and folders.
  • Use labels, tags, or colors to categorize our files and emails according to their type, priority, or status.
  • Use cloud services or external drives to backup our important data and sync them across our devices.
  • Use shortcuts, widgets, or folders to group our apps according to their function or frequency of use.
  • Use password managers or biometric authentication to secure our devices and online accounts.


The third step of 5S is to clean the workplace and maintain it in good condition. In the digital context, this means to update our devices and software regularly and protect them from viruses, malware, or hackers. Shining helps us to prevent problems, ensure reliability, and enhance quality.
Some tips for shining our digital environment are:

  • Run antivirus scans and software updates regularly or set them to run automatically.
  • Use firewalls or VPNs to protect our devices and data from unauthorized access or attacks.
  • Use encryption or compression tools to protect our sensitive or confidential data.
  • Use disk cleanup or defragmentation tools to optimize our storage space and performance.
  • Use feedback or rating systems to evaluate the quality and usefulness of our apps or online services.


The fourth step of 5S is to establish rules and procedures for maintaining the order and cleanliness of the workplace. In the digital context, this means to create habits and routines that help us to manage our digital environment effectively and efficiently. Standardizing helps us to sustain the benefits of 5S, ensure consistency, and facilitate collaboration.
Some tips for standardizing our digital environment are:

  • Create a schedule or a checklist for performing regular tasks such as sorting, backing up, updating, or scanning our devices and data.
  • Use automation tools or scripts to perform repetitive or complex tasks more easily and quickly.
  • Use templates or formats that are compatible with different devices or platforms.
  • Use online collaboration tools or platforms that allow us to share information and work with others seamlessly.
  • Use online learning tools or resources that help us to improve our digital skills and knowledge.


The fifth step of 5S is to monitor the performance of the workplace and continuously look for ways to improve it. In the digital context, this means to review our digital environment periodically and seek feedback from ourselves or others on how we can make it better. Sustaining helps us to adapt to the changing needs and expectations of the digital age, foster a culture of innovation, and achieve our goals.
Some tips for sustaining our digital environment are:

  • Use analytics tools or reports to measure the usage, performance, and impact of our devices and data.
  • Use surveys or polls to collect feedback from ourselves or others on the satisfaction, quality, and effectiveness of our digital environment.
  • Use online communities or forums to exchange ideas, experiences, or best practices with other digital users or experts.
  • Use online reviews or recommendations to discover new apps, tools, or services that can enhance our digital environment.
  • Use online challenges or competitions to motivate ourselves or others to improve our digital environment.


5S is a proven methodology that can help us to improve our physical and digital workplaces. By applying the principles of 5S to the digital age, we can optimize our use of technology and information, and enjoy the benefits of increased productivity, quality, and well-being. 5S can also help us to cope with the challenges and risks of the digital transformation, such as information overload, cyber threats, and digital distractions. In sum, 5S can help us to create a digital environment that supports our work and life goals.


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