The 8 Wastes of Lean Manufacturing and How They Apply to You

*Two months ago, I started this blog by talking about lean manufacturing – what it is, and how you can apply it to your daily lives. If you are a first time reader, you may be interested in going back and reading my first post called “Understanding Lean” and also my post about Continuous Improvement.

Lean manufacturing is a method of cutting out waste to improve efficiency.

Waste is not a good thing. Most of us think of waste as garbage… and yes, that’s technically what it is. But I’m not talking about physical garbage that belongs in a trash bag… I’m talking about any kind of garbage that causes us to be less efficient, costs us money, eats up our time, or anything else that has a negative impact on our lives. But the good news is, we can learn to identify things that are considered “waste” and remove them. There are an infinite number of things we can do in our lives to cut waste. Removing waste will help us in your journey to think leaner, save time, money, and have a more orderly schedule. So, let’s begin by identify some of these wastes.

According to experts in lean manufacturing, there are eight wastes that they consider “deadly” to the business. Those are:

  1. Defects
  2. Overproduction
  3. Waiting
  4. Not Utilizing Talent
  5. Transportation
  6. Inventory Excess
  7. Motion Waste
  8. Excess Processing

After reading that list, you’re probably thinking, “Lean manufacturing sounds like it belongs in a factory! What’s the point of learning this?” Well, let me tell you something: When I first heard about lean manufacturing, I thought the same thing. But the more I learned about it, I realized that it is like an advanced form of organization. And that’s exactly what it is! So why not learn a new way to organize, utilize it in our homes, and make ourselves more efficient?

In light of this, I would like to talk about the first four wastes and how we can remove them.


Defects are mistakes that cause time, energy, and money to fix. When we produce a defect, (say, we don’t take the time to measure out the correct amount of fabric, sew an entire dress, try it on after it’s finished, and realize it looks worse than if a one year old child made it (I just did that last week)) we waste not only our own time, but also money. Because I made the mistake of trying to eyeball my dress size out of laziness, I not only wasted a ton of fabric, but I also had to rip the dress to shreds and start the entire thing over again.

In order to get rid of defects, make sure to properly do the work. Measure everything out, take your time, and make sure it’s a good product. Even if it seems easier to cut corners, in the end, it probably will be shoddy at best. Worst case scenario, you will have to take the time to do the whole thing over again. Honestly, I could take my own advice here. I am the queen of corner cutting, especially if it’s something I want to get over with. It usually doesn’t end well for me.


Overproduction can refer to anything we do in excess that isn’t needed. One thing I used to have a tendency to do is to buy too much food at the grocery store. Then, after a few weeks of it spoiling in the pantry, neither my husband and I would eat it and it would get tossed in the trash. Luckily, I started calculating how much I was spending on food and the cost of the amount of food I was throwing away a month. It was eye-opening. I am now much better at only buying food that I know will get eaten.

Try to think of something you are doing in excess. Is it worth the time and possible money you are putting into it?


Waiting is a problem when it comes to time management. Unfortunately, it often can’t be helped. We have to wait in traffic jams. We have to wait while we are put on hold for an hour. We have to wait for our husbands to get out of the bathroom before we can get ready in the morning. We have to wait in a long line to purchase our groceries. Imagine how many other things we could be accomplishing instead of waiting around for who knows how long? My advice in these types of situations is to do what you can. If there is something else that needs done, do it instead of just twiddling your thumbs. If you are standing in a long line, maybe check and answer some emails on your phone. If you are on hold, you could be cleaning or paying bills. If you are waiting for your husband to get out of the bathroom, you could be making some lunches to take to work.

Not Utilizing Talent

This one is probably the most self explanatory out of the bunch. If you aren’t utilizing your talent, you probably won’t be very efficient. It is very important to use your talents for the best. Sure, we all have lazy days, and I completely understand that, but the problem comes when we start having too many lazy days and not enough efficient days. That is when you must realize that something needs to change. Do your best to get motivated. Read things that inspire you to get moving and surround yourself with positive things.

These are the first four wastes that will eat up our time, money, and efficiency. It’s a good idea to identify these now so you can learn to nip them in the bud early on. Then your chores and daily tasks will become easier than ever before!

Stay tuned for the next post in this series to learn about that last four deadly wastes and how we can remove them! Let me know in the comments how you feel about this post and if you have any questions at all!

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