How do I use 5S method for organizing data files?

Data Cleaning Week, from 16th to 20th of December, challenges University of Helsinki researchers, as well as staff and students, to check their data management routines and organize data files. In this blog post we go through how to get started in organizing files with 5S method. Follow and join data cleaning week at Twitter using #5sdata hashtag.

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Probably many of us have faced the problem that computer memory runs out or the desktop starts to look like a mess. 5S method helps in deleting unnecessary data files and organizing the remaining files – this is what the Data Cleaning Week is all about.

5S method is a five-step protocol for workplace organization that has been originally developed in Japan. The method is a lean tool, which aims to improve work efficiency and standardize protocols that will help to sustain systematic organization. 5S can be used for example in offices, production lines or IT systems. 5S method is useful for researchers to organize research data files, and everyone in the university from administrators and experts to students can adopt this method. The 5S stand for:

  1. Sort
  2. Set in order
  3. Shine
  4. Standardize
  5. Sustain

The idea is that you start by sorting your data files: check all folders and remove files that are not necessary. After that set remaining files in order; make the structure and naming conventions that suit your needs. Third and fourth is about shining and standardizing: develop a method that will support the new practices and make it part of the daily routine. Last, but not least, sustain your new system, and teach it to your group and colleagues so that good practices spread. 

More tips on our 5S-webpage!

Participate in Data Cleaning Week!

Take the challenge and participate in the Data Cleaning Week by posting a picture of your cleaning effort to Twitter by using the hashtag #5sdata. The picture can be about folder structure, new file naming system for your group, space created by cleaning – you name it! Remember to challenge your colleagues too!

You can also participate in Data Cleaning Week by sending an email to Data Support: We convey your message through the Think Open blog, Twitter and web site.