The One Touch Rule –
Declutter Your Mental and Physical Space

The One Touch Rule - Declutter Your Mental and Physical Space

“To touch can be to give life”. – Michelangelo

Through the science of touch, we have learned to appreciate the power in our fingertips. A single touch can convey so much: compassion, empathy, safety, trust, and love. In fact, one touch can brighten a person’s day. However, one touch can also lead you astray. As a child, you may have been told not to touch something: your siblings, items in the grocery store, or perhaps even a stray dog. 

As you grew up, you may have forgotten your parent’s sage advice. As an adult, you may now waste time touching things around your home and in your work life. Touching anything more than once, whether it is literally or figuratively, can cost you time, energy, and perhaps even money. Is there a way to ensure you heed your parents’ advice, while maintaining the power in your fingertips?

The One Touch Rule encapsulates the usefulness of touch, while addressing the wisdom in limiting its presence in your daily life. The rule is self-explanatory: touch everything, whether it is your jacket, a task, or an email, only once. Its effectiveness cannot be downplayed. By incorporating the One Touch Rule into your life, you can declutter both your mental and physical space. Being stingy with the power in your fingertips can streamline your organizational efforts and increase your productivity.

Apply the One Touch Rule to Decluttering and Organizing:

Much of the clutter around your home comes from procrastination, indecision, and holding onto things that require action. Living by  the One Touch Rule will encourage you to build smart practices. For instance, when you walk through the front door at the end of the day, rather than putting your jacket on a chair or a bench in the entryway, hang it up immediately. 

Your jacket represents the clutter of procrastination: putting something off until a later time. Touching it once, rather than at least twice, saves you time and energy. This rule is “so simple, yet so life changing”. Simply by dealing with an item immediately, whether it is your shoes, incoming mail, or your used coffee mug, less clutter will be created. One touch, one movement, equals less effort overall.

This rule can also be applied when you are purging, editing, and organizing. Imagine the peace of mind, time, and energy you will create by touching every item only once. Making an immediate determination to either keep, donate, or discard, will bypass any decision-making angst. By touching your items once, you will simplify your life and your closet, while decreasing your clutter.

Apply the One Touch Rule to Your Tasks:

Adopting the One Touch Rule in your work life, can help you to develop better habits and be more productive. Touching a task once, enables you to complete it fully before moving on to the next. Unfinished tasks can become overwhelming, leading to a cluttered mind as well as a cluttered workspace. As these tasks pile up, they create negative energy and a sense of unfinished business. “These yet-to-be completed assignments niggle at your mind, which inhibits your ability to fully process whatever you’re working on in the moment”. Each time you think about an uncompleted task you waste your mental energy, further decreasing your productivity.

The trick is to only begin things when you have time to complete them. Batching your work into scheduled, focused blocks builds a habit of distraction-free periods of concentration. Begin your day by selecting and prioritizing the tasks you wish to accomplish. Next, schedule blocks of time in which you will complete the tasks in full. Each task will receive your undivided attention, ensuring an optimal result. 

By scheduling time for each job, you remain in control of your day, as well as your productivity. Due to a lack of distractions, tasks will not drag on. By applying the One Touch Rule to your To-Do List, you will not waste your time or energy running in many different directions. This rule allows you to retain your focus on the end goal, while increasing your productivity.

Apply the One Touch Rule to your Mental and Physical “Inbox”:

Following the One Touch Rule not only saves you time and energy, but it can also declutter your mental and physical inbox. As many people can attest, requests and correspondence pile up quickly. To produce more results in less time, working hard is not the answer. Working with a proven strategy will get you results. As you proceed through your inbox, decide right way what you will do with each email. Touching each one once, allows you to clear it out of your inbox, both mentally and physically. Upon reading each email, determine if you are either going to complete the request immediately, delegate it, or schedule it into your calendar.

A good rule of thumb, is to create a time-limit for yourself. For instance, if a response or request will take less than 5 minutes to complete, finish it immediately. If it will take longer, either delegate it, or schedule it into your calendar. Deciding the next steps immediately, ensures you will not waste your time or energy.

Limiting the presence of touch in your daily life, increases your productivity and decreases your mental and physical clutter. The One Touch Rule builds smart practices and better habits. Using this strategy also ensures you waste less time thinking about unfinished tasks. 

You work better and smarter, concentrating and completing tasks in less time. As it turns out, your parents do know best.

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