I recently learned a new productivity / time management tool – I’ve adopted it as my mantra for the week and have been trying my best to put it into practice. It’s this:
Touch it just once.
That means when you take a dish to the sink, wash it.
When you take off your clothes, put them in the hamper.
When you open an email, respond right then.
I’m pretty much the worst at all these things. I feel like everything can be saved for later … but later always has it’s own needs and demands to be met too – like mouths to feed or a TV show to be watched (I’m so curious to see what happens in this last season of Mad Men.) So instead of scanning emails, I’ll dedicate a block of time to reading and responding. And I’m sure my husband will especially appreciate it if my dishes could make it into the dishwasher as I go.
As you incorporate this practice into your life, you may find yourself struggling to only touch things once.
A couple months ago, during a meeting, I grabbed a pen that didn’t work. I started to put it back in my jar of pens when my sister said “Throw it away.” So I did. And now my life is exponentially better because I will never grab that pen that doesn’t work ever again.
Then the other morning during my typical breakfast of oats & egg whites, I got a little bit of maple syrup on my spoon. In between bites I was trying to find exactly where this maple syrup was on my spoon and wipe it off with a napkin but with each bite my utensil hand was getting stickier. At that point I would normally just suffer through breakfast with the minor inconvenience of a sticky spoon, but I remembered my sister’s command to ditch the ink pen. Except now the dried out ink pen was a sticky spoon. So I got up, washed my hands, and grabbed a new spoon. I enjoyed the rest of my breakfast routine and started my day without annoyance.
So then I started thinking about all the other things I could edit out of my life. The uncomfortable bra that I never wear and constantly have to shove to the back of my drawer – I should just toss it (along with the sock that hasn’t had a match for years). Or my iPhone case that has to be removed every time I plug it into my sounddock – I should just get a better designed case that fits my dock adapter. Then there’s that high school acquaintance whose Facebook status updates always get me riled up – why are we still even “friends”? And of course, there are all the email blasts I get from stores I don’t even shop at flooding my inbox. How long would it take to hit “unsubscribe”?
Today I invite you to move through your day with an awareness to the little details you could just touch once or edit completely out of your life. Take note of all of the little things that deplete you of even the slightest bit of energy. And then I challenge you to touch it once and ditch the broken pen.
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