The ‘Touch it Once’ Approach
When your to-do list is filling up, and things are coming at you from all directions, it’s easy to push even the simplest tasks aside. You may find yourself repeatedly looking at the same paperwork or email and promising to get to it later, or moving things around at home from one temporary place to another while the clutter builds up. But this kind of procrastination can really get in the way of actually getting things done.
A simple solution is to use the ‘touch it once’ approach: as soon as you touch something, whether it’s a piece of post (physical or virtual), or something that’s not in its proper place, you act immediately. That could be to complete the task, or to decide on your next actions that will move things along.
This approach can be applied to many different areas of our lives and save us time by avoiding coming back over and over to the same tasks. It can also declutter your mental space, as all those yet-to-be-completed tasks niggle at your mind, which gets in the way of your ability to fully process whatever you are doing in the moment.
So, how can this work for you in practice? Here are some examples:
Allow 30 minutes for these scheduled ‘touch it once’ email blocks. Open your email and either:
- Deal with it on the spot
- Delegate and forward to someone else
- Delete it (and maybe unsubscribe)
- Calendar it for future action
In the House
- Take your shoes off and take them straight to where they are kept.
- Take dirty plates straight to the sink to rinse (and put them in the dishwasher if you have one).
- Use a laundry basket, or something similar, to go around the house picking up items that are in the wrong place and return them to their rightful place all in one go. Do not dump things on the bottom of the stairs!
- Put shopping away straight from getting it from the car or leave it in the car until you can do this.
- Open the post when you have time to act on each item straight away.
Following this approach ultimately comes down to discipline, but once you have established this time-saving habit, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been doing it like this all along! It’s obviously helpful to teach the rest of your family to have a ‘touch it once’ approach too!
Leave a comment if you have any of your own ‘touch it once’ tips, we’d love to hear them!
We look at ways to build healthy habits not just around food, but also around other aspects of mental wellbeing, in our Healthy Whole and Free course, which starts on Monday 26th September. Registration is now open and you can find out more and sign up here.