Theory: Identifying the 7 Forms of Waste


The intended purpose of this website is to teach fundamentals of Industrial Engineering to everyone, so it can be applied to home.

You are the expert of your own life, once you learn the tools, you will be able to apply them.

While we live on 19,000 dollars a year, the goal isn’t to be cheap. The goal is to live life and to meet our specifications. Allocating time and money resources optimally to hit defined qualities.

There are only 2 sections, The Concepts, and Tips By Example. The first section puts a significant emphasis on the concept, while the second is application. As you read through the first section, take the time to think about where you have this in your own life.

The Concept- Forms of Waste


In The Factory- The movement of products. Transportation from one factory to another, transportation moving a product from one assembly line station to another, packaging the product, and moving it. Two major notes to remember about transportation-

  1. The customer doesn’t get value out of transportation
  2. Transportation is one of the largest forms of waste

At Home- Moving yourself, essential items for living, and non-essential items.


In The Factory- Raw materials sitting around costing extra warehouse space. Money spent on unused material that could otherwise be invested until additional material is needed.

In The Home- Bulk purchases can often mean buying too much causing expiration or storing it for a long time.


In The Factory- While transportation is movement, motion is the action. A machine having to open and close for each cycle is Motion waste.

At Home– Looking for a tool while performing a taste is a non value added movement. Adjusting a shirt that is getting ironed is Motion waste. You want to be ironing the shirt, not moving and flattening in the preparation of the ironing process.


In The Factory- Huge form of waste, although it can be spotted quite easily. Machines not performing actions, Humans on their cellphones.

At Home- Waiting for other people to ‘Get Ready’, waiting for water to boil or food to cook. If the waiting is significant, multi-tasking is popular. If waiting during a home task is repetitive, it may be worth optimizing. Although we have phones now, that makes waiting more enjoyable.

Over Processing

Think of Over Processing as “Trying too hard”.

In The Factory– This is irresponsibly exceeding quality expectations. If you are making white lights, creating a light that also changes colors is an unnecessary expense. If you are making a smooth bowl, you might go above and beyond to make the bowl smoother than needed. This costs time and money that could otherwise be passed down to the customer.

At Home- Imagine if you spent all day making a french cuisine for your in-laws, only to find out they are Ohio State fans 😛

Or if you enjoy offbrand 3$ Moscato, buying a more expensive brand because its ‘nicer’. As long as 3$ Moscato meets quality expectations, the extra expense is waste.

Over Production

In The Factory- Making more products than needed. Consider the effects of making 2x more product that is immediately needed. Those products need to be Transported, put in Inventory, and wait to be bought. If your customer changes their buying habits or product specifications, you will be left with Inventory you cannot sell.

At Home- Bulk preparation is fine, as long as its used. If you ever meal prepped so much food that you got sick of it, or it expired, you have over produced.


In The Factory- Defects mean:

  1. Reworking defects out of a product
  2. Scrapping a product

Reworking takes time, often takes material, and is an interruption to a fluid process. Scrapping is the complete loss of product, disposing of the time and material used to create that process.

At Home- Remember that defects must be severe enough to cause extra processing. If you can eat slightly burnt food, that meets quality expectations. If you cut off the burnt part or throw away a batch of burnt food, this is an example of dealing with defects. Defects can also happen on processes, like doing your hair or setting the temperature on your shower.

Examples- Tips To Reduce Waste In Your Life


Transportation is such a gigantic and frequent waste, even drinking water can be optimized to save over 1000 hours in your lifetime.

Transportation is often a repeatable, daily occurrence. I’ve conducted time studies to optimize my route to work. Saving 6 minutes per trip to work adds up to an entire hour a week.

Consider Why you are moving around the house. A spaghetti diagram can be used to visualize transportation during a routine. For this, draw your home layout, put your pen down at a starting point, and dont lift until you finish the routine. Overlap of lines are opportunities to consolidate actions.


Buying/renting too much space. The worst offender is Cash. Having USD means losing value every year to inflation. I havent talked about investment, but I should start. I personally recommend a blend of liquid assets(stocks), tax advantaged accounts(401k and IRA), cryptocurrency, and gold.

Also consider renting things instead of buying. A quarter million dollar mortgage on a vacation home gives you the ability to visit the location of your home. Could that quarter million dollars be spent on vacations ‘Just In Time’? The potentials of investment and constantly changing world makes buying things only when needed very valuable.


It would be a waste of water to clean a car from the wheels to the top. Shuffling through boxes trying to find a tool is waste. Watching water heat up to a boil. These might be difficult to solve immediately, but knowing the waste means thinking toward long term solutions.


While everyone waits, I want to point out a life changer-

Clean while you cook. As you cook dinner, put away dishes, wipe off dirty pans while they are still hot, throw away packaging from ingredients. Do this while you wait for water to boil or while meats and veggies are cooking. Find time, but make sure food doesnt burn.

While waiting, I have a cocktail of information from Instagram, Pinterest, and Reddit. Making the most of this down-time.

Over Processing

Quality is the ‘name of the game’.

How low cost and quick can you live? Can you live off flour? Or do you need a hearty meal of vegetables for your nutrition and sanity?

Tying shoes is a preventable waste. However, if you want to be faster than a shoe horn, you would need to sacrifice style for slip-ons. Do you need nicer shoes to meet a social status?

Consider what is needed, not what your income can afford. If you want a phone with a nice camera, look up phones with great cameras, THEN compare by price. Often people buy the latest iPhone without any research into competitor quality.

Apple Soapbox- I find Apple products a terrible value. Their phones are relatively slow compared to the competition, however iPhones have a fantastic camera. The cost for the phone dwarfs other phones with fantastic cameras. Further limited Apps and no widgets make me wonder what quality metrics people are paying for. The Apple Logo?

Over Production

Buying in bulk can be deceptive. You will often consume more, faster. Think of what happens when you buy a 2L of soda. Or 1750ml of liquor.

This could also be buying things ahead of needing them. You might think you need to buy a dog leash because its on sale, and someday, you might own a dog. However there is a very real risk of losing the leash, it consuming space in your home, motivating you to buy a larger home.


If defects are common, checklists can be used to prevent re-work. This can be used to make sure you leave your room with all the clothing items needed for the day, or make sure you have your lunch, ID, and laptop before going to work.

Starting the shower too hot or cold puts you at high risk for a defect in your morning routine. Solve this by Error Proofing your shower.

Think About Waste

As you do chores around the house, think about moving around, think about expectations. Can you find ways to save seconds on a process or save money on things you enjoy?

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