Stop the Procrastination with this One Easy to Follow Tip

2024 businesstips office organization productivity virtualofficeadvantage May 21, 2024

I love a good tip that helps with productivity and organization that is super simple AND I can start right away. This tip is just that! It's called the Touch it Once Principle, and while I don't know who actually came up with the concept - I believe they are a genius. 

The basic idea of the Touch is Once Principle is to handle each item only once. It's a strategy that asks you to take action right away. The huge win with this concept is that it is just as effective at home as it is at work. AND you can get your whole family in on it!

Let me give you a couple of practical examples (and some extra tips to help you out even more):

  • Email:
    • Upon opening an email, decide on the action you need to take right away. Do you need to reply, archive, delete (yes this is ok to do!) or delegate to another team member.

Pro tip: I recommend only checking your email when you are able to take action on it. By "checking" email and then closing it, the only thing that has been accomplished is to add to mental chaos. Your brain will continue to remind you that there are things in your inbox that need attention. And that message will get played on a loop until action is taken. Twice per day is plenty to check and take action on your inbox. It's super effective!

  • Physical Mail:
    • Sort through the mail as soon as you receive it. Decide right away if you need to file it with other important documents, file it to further action (check out the Piles to Files System) or discard the junk mail (yes this is ok to do!).

Pro tip: I recommend having a system set up for what to do with the physical mail that needs to have action taken on it. While it can seem like a good idea to add it to a pile on a counter or desk, a couple of things can happen. One, papers do get misplaced and moved around. Two, when piles are made the items on the bottom get buried which can result in "out of sight, out of mind". 

While this principle is fairly straight forward and seems really simple, the side effects are huge. 

  • Reduced Clutter: This is a winner for both physical and digital clutter! Tasks are dealt with now and not left lying around. 
  • Decreased Stress: Knowing that you have taken action on tasks now, reduces the stress of what needs to be done later.
  • Reduced Procrastination: Small choices now lead to big changes later. By making the quick choice to take action on a small task now, you've cut down on procrastination later on.
  • Increased Efficiency: Handling tasks right away means less time spent revisiting the same tasks and wasted time reorienting yourself each time. 
  • Improved Focus: Minimized distractions and mental chaos, means better focus and clarity.

The best Pro Tip I give you is to get a routine in place and start small. Establishing a routine for handling common tasks will help to integrate this concept into your daily life. A great place to start is with your mail (physical and email). It's a small step but it's super gratifying as you'll know right away when you get it set as a routine in your day. It's also fairly easy to tweak as needed. 

The next best Pro Tip I can give you is to adopt the mindset of making the immediate decision. Dealing with tasks promptly takes away any indecision and procrastination you may have in the moment.

Make no mistake, you will need to use some organizational tools. I would encourage you to use simple systems that make sense to you. I would recommend a calendar, to-do lists, and a filing system like the Piles to Files system to keep you organized in a super simple way. 

If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed or distracted, the following tips may help:

  • Overwhelm is common. Especially when a big project is being worked on. Go easy on yourself. Break down any large tasks into smaller, manageable actions. 
  • Setting a timer is a great way to stop distractions. For example, if you are going to check your email and take action, set a timer for 10-15 minutes. Short time blocks can help keep you on task and also keeps the end in sight for the project you're working on. 
  • Keep at it. It's not easy adding new steps into your day. Set up the systems that support you and be consistent.

The Touch it Once Principle asks you to consciously choose what to do with an item/task, deal with it, and move on with a time limit (usually two minutes). Implementing this concept and significantly increase your productivity and daily organization. Give it a try. I know it will help you maintain a more stress-free and productive life.   




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