Make A Spaghetti Diagram To Save Time, Easy and Fun

This tool is so easy and fun, I was saving it for a book… This is peak Efficiency Is Everything, this is the good times, we are in them now.

While a process flow diagram is the go-to tool for finding waste, this is a supplementary tool that may be able to catch moments that the process flow diagram did not. This is also faster than a process flow diagram, it can be completed in 5-20 minutes.

What is a Spaghetti Diagram?

A Spaghetti Diagram starts as an overhead view of a floor. A pen is put down at the starting location of a process. You then hold the pen down, traveling through all the locations of each steps with the pen, never picking up the pen until its finished. When you are finished your page will look like Spaghetti is on it with all the lines.

You will find two benefits from this: as you travel along with your pen you will find waste by simply seeing it and thinking about it. Then at the completion you can look back and find locations that have significant overlap, cause you to move far away, or are repetitive. Now that you can visualize the waste, you can find solutions to eliminate them and save time.

An Example

Below is a poor drawing of my house, but it will get the job done. This is my morning routine when I do exercise, this includes getting my 2 kids showered.

Here is the completed diagram, the highly trafficked areas and far away destinations were obvious. Now these are a major focus for improvement.


  • I’m taking many trips downstairs, some are necessary, one was poor planning, another is that the kids finish showering at different times. I can fix the bad planning and I might be able to find a solution to the different shower finish times.
  • I noted I was taking an extra 3-4 steps to put towels away. We may be able to reduce by moving a towel rack.
  • Again I see that taking the kids in separate moments is wasting time. I can probably lift all 70lbs shared between them…

As a side note, I mention that I messed up the floor plan of the house, drawing a phantom area of a room that doesnt exist in my house. It really should be split between the two closets. It didn’t matter, so I left it. (I keep my clothes on a dresser next to the bathroom.)

How To Make A Spaghetti Diagram

  1. Get a pen/pencil/crayon/marker
  2. Get a (mostly) blank piece of paper, notebook paper is fine, some marks are fine.
  3. Draw your home’s floor plan. As close as you can, don’t worry non-critical mistakes.
  4. Find your starting point. Could be your Bed, Garage, Living Room, etc…
  5. Place your pen/(writing tool) on the starting location, do not lift it up until this is complete
  6. Drag your pen from location to location you would be moving during this process. Continue this until the process is complete.
  7. Lift up pen, look for any areas that have many overlaps and see if there is anything you can do to optimize or eliminate.

Try it!

See how quick you can visualize your waste. Do not dwell on a poorly drawn layout, don’t worry about the proportions, don’t worry about non-straight edges or mild inaccuracies. Don’t let the whole exercise take more than 20 minutes, aim to take 5-15 minutes. Try it!

If you have any waste that you cannot seem to find a solution for, send me your spaghetti diagram and I can think about it. michaelkirk@efficiencyiseverything.com