How to Lean Out Your Physical Workspace

lean out Apr 21, 2020

If your physical workspace has you feeling stressed out or overwhelmed, it's time to "lean out" by evaluating what's currently working, what isn't, and what you want to bring with you into the new normal, whatever that may be.

A great place to start leaning out is in your physical workspace. 

I recommend starting here because it's usually the easiest and it leads to an immediate return on time investment - improving your focus and productivity, and giving you the momentum you'll need for some of the more challenging areas of leaning out, such as your business model and offers.

We love leveraging the lean 5S method for organizing physical workspaces, whether that be your office, your studio, your store, etc.

What is 5S?

5S is workplace organization method that uses a list of five Japanese words: seiri, seiton, seisō, seiketsu, and shitsuke. These roughly translate to: 

  1. Seiri = sort
  2. Seiton = set
  3. Seisō = shine
  4. Seiketsu = standardize
  5. Shitsuke = sustain

After working with numerous clients over the past 2 decades to implement 5S systems into their businesses, I have added 2 additional steps - 6. make it safe & secure, and 7. make it sexy.  You can learn more about these steps and get detailed instructions on applying the 5S method in your business here.

Ready to lean out your physical workspace?  Great!  

Here are a few questions to consider before you start leaning out your workspace:


Who do you want to become in your next level?

  • How does your physical space reflect your next level?
  • How is it in or out of alignment?


How does your space make you feel?

  • Does it feel overwhelming, suffocating, stressful, confining, like there is no room for growth?
  • Does it feel open, expansive, inspiring, like there is room for growth and possibility?
  • Does it inspire or block creativity?
  • Does it help keep you focused or distract you?
  • Does it make you happy or sad? Is it beautiful to you?
  • Are you surrounded by things that feel “heavy” and weigh you down, like unpaid bills, incomplete projects, unfulfilled commitments?
  • Are you surrounded by “light” and supportive things you are proud of, fulfilling accomplishments or feedback, your word/intention for the year?


What do you want to create space for?


Tips for Leaning Out Your Workspace

Once you've considered these questions, we recommend you dedicate a 30 to 60 minute block of time to leaning out your physical workspace. 


Set yourself up for success by:
  • Watching our free training on how to lean out your physical workspace - you'll find it inside our private Facebook group
  • Putting on your favorite music or podcast for background inspiration
  • Wearing comfy clothes you don’t mind getting dirty
  • Having all your cleaning and organizing supplies ready
  • Remember to keep things super simple
Here are a few tips to optimize the time you invest in this activity:
  • Start with the things in your immediate surroundings that are most visible.
    • LEAN TIP:  Don't just shift the problem and move items out of your workspace and put them somewhere else.  Unapologetically get rid of the things that aren't helping you level up.  Leaning out is all about eliminating anything that isn't adding value.
  • Finish the unfinished.  Y'know those things you've been putting off forever?  That pile of unpaid bills?  That unfinished project?  As much as you don't want to, taking the time to finish them can 10x your productivity.  It's like a weight is lifted when you finish things - it is one of the best ways to get unblocked and reignite your focus and motivation.  
    • “I learned how much of my energy and power was being consumed by the things I’d left unfinished and un-whole. I discovered how much energy, lightness, and power I could feel by completing things and making them - and myself - whole.” - Gay Hendricks, The Big Leap
  • Once you finish the things you need to finish, begin organizing (or beautifying) the rest.
Success Tips:

I recommend that you take an incremental approach to leaning out your workspace.  It should feel manageable & inspiring, not overwhelming & stressful.  That's why I recommend a 30 - 60 minute focused time block and starting with quick wins.  You can repeat these steps as many times as you need to and in as many workspaces as you need to.

As always, remember to celebrate your wins!  There is no better way to recognize how far you've come than with some before and after pictures, so be sure to take pictures before you start, and after each block of time you dedicate to leaning out your physical workspace.

  • We'd love to celebrate your progress with you - share your photos in the Lean Out Circle Facebook group, and let us know how this activity goes for you in the comments below.
Once you've finished leaning out your physical workspace, what's next?

Keep the positive momentum going and move from physical to digital.  Next, it's time to lean out your digital workspace

by Crista Grasso

Crista Grasso is the go-to strategic planning expert for leading global businesses and online entrepreneurs when they want to scale.  Known as the "Business Optimizer", Crista has the ability to quickly cut through noise and focus on optimizing the core things that will make the biggest impact to scale a business simply and sustainably. She specializes in helping businesses gain clarity on the most important things that will drive maximum value for their clients and maximum profits for their business.  She is the creator of the Lean Out Method, 90 Day Lean Out Planner, and host of the Lean Out Your Business Podcast


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