How to Measure and Reduce Motion Waste

Motion - Road at Night. This image is CC0!

How do you measure motion waste?

On a large and medium scale, time and distance are good measures. On a small scale, distance alone should suffice. For mental motion, count the tasks you are performing per hour and multiply the number with the average task duration, measured in hours. If the product is larger than one, there is motion waste. The bigger the product is, the higher the waste.

How to reduce motion waste?


As usual, the first step should be to question the unavoidability of motion, and how much value is attributed to a certain motion. For example, if you love to ride your bicycle, that motion is in general not waste. Even it is absolutely avoidable. On the other hand, commuting may be unavoidable waste, at least if you do not want to change your employer.

For classical motion, you can use one of these approaches, combinations possible as usual.

  • Arrange the things in your surroundings differently, so that they are easier to reach. For example, put pots near the stove and plates near your eating place. Even small changes can help a lot.Try new arrangements from time to time even if you think you have reached the optimum. Sometimes you need more than one minuscule changes to get the right idea. This can also be something bigger, like moving around furniture.
  • Change your surroundings. For example, look for a new apartment more towards the city center, or in the neighborhood of shops for your daily needs. Swapping office rooms to bring team members closer to each other is also a good example.
  • Make motion more efficient. For example, a good waiter never walks empty handed through a restaurant. Coming from the kitchen, he will carry plates with fresh food. Going back, he will always look for used plates to bring into the kitchen.At home, if you go into the basement to fetch something, look for things that need to be brought downstairs. As you will see, a lot of motion waste is transportation waste, too. Reduce transportation waste and you may also reduce motion waste.
  • Reduce avoidable motion, if it indirectly adds value. Use a shopping list so that you do not forget things to buy, which requires a second run into the shop. Put it another way round: Use your head to save your heels.
  • Stop avoidable motion if it does not add any value.

What is your motion waste? What are you doing to eliminate it? I’m looking forward to your comments.

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