5 Days of S-mas: Sort

Welcome to the first day of S-mas everyone!  Throughout this week we’ll be examining how to apply 5S methodology to your mental life, to become more efficient, happy, and peaceful no matter what you’re faced with.  Just in time for the craziness of the holidays too 🙂  Today’s “S” is “Sort”, so let’s get started!

The “Sort” step in a factory setting would usually involve taking inventory, grouping things by type, and getting rid of unnecessary or broken items.  For our purposes, this means inspecting your subconscious thoughts and feelings to identify which ones are helping you move forward and which ones are holding you back.  Getting rid of toxic thoughts, behaviors, and people (and preventing the accumulation of new ones!) is the ultimate goal.

It can be helpful to group your perceptions and assumptions into 3 categories, and deal with them accordingly.  For simplicity’s sake, I’ve chosen to group by usefulness:


Useful thoughts, relationships, and “Invisible Scripts” are the ones that help you move forward, improve, or just make you feel good in general.  These can be things like goals, affirmations, and friendships that make you feel alive and energized!  While it can be hard to pin down what you *really* want in life, recognizing the things that make you unconditionally happy is a great place to start.

Identifying these thoughts is all that’s necessary at this point, but tomorrow in “Straighten” we’ll explore ways to keep these thoughts at the front of your mind throughout your normal routine, and keep them from getting pushed back during tough times.

2)Sometimes Useful

Ideas and interactions that are sometimes useful are either ones that are necessary but don’t really energize you, or ones that take a considerable amount of effort to get your desired results.  Oftentimes, these are thoughts and relationships that occur throughout daily life and work, such as thinking about errands you need to run today, or interacting with your coworkers.

Identifying sometimes useful mentalities might be the most difficult, because they’re often sourced from things that can either frustrate us or aid us.  When considering a thought that doesn’t particularly energize you, but you don’t feel is particularly harmful, the key is generally to ask yourself if it’s consistently holding you back.  If yes, it likely falls in the next category, if not it can be considered at least sometimes useful.

During “Standardize” we’ll be exploring ways to either re-frame items in this category to make them useful, or automate them so they cause as little stress as possible!

3)Not Useful

While toxic relationships, judgemental thoughts, and negative self-talk are all distinctly part of this category, more subtle mental clutter is also considered not useful.  In general, anything that makes you feel sad, frustrated, angry, or upset needs to go.  This can include anything from general negativity to relationships where the other person is actively tearing you down.  These aren’t hard to identify, but they can be hard to get rid of.  Oftentimes we’ll rationalize that an invisible script we hold isn’t *that* bad, and that annoying “friend” that just drains your soul isn’t *completely* the worst.

Don’t do this to yourself!  If you recognize that something or someone is holding you back, acknowledge it.  In manufacturing, this is called “red-tagging”.  Note that this thought or relationship is problematic, mark them as such, and move towards getting them out of your brain ASAP!  If you really just *can’t* break free at the moment, still red-tag appropriately to deal with it later.  You deserve freedom and happiness, especially in your own mind.


Alright, that’s all for “Sort”!  Your challenge today is to write down (or comment below) 3 Invisible Scripts, random thoughts, or relationships in each category, and try to get rid of at least 1 that’s not useful!  We’ll be dealing with the rest tomorrow in “Straighten”.  Hope to hear from you then!




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *