The “Touch it Once” Principle

Should you research concepts as such as increased productivity or time management the “touch it once principle” will undoubtedly appear in your search. So what is this principle all about?

Whenever you have to deal with something, you deal with it right away. You don’t postpone it. You don’t delay. You don’t procrastinate.

You touch it once and move on to the next thing.

When you touch something more than once, you’re wasting a lot of time and energy.

A lot of people waste time and energy by rereading and reconsidering tasks they have to do. Instead of taking care of the task at hand, they might think “I’ll take care of this later” and move on to something else. Later on, they will have to re-evaluate what to do with the task and this eats up time and energy. It’s not uncommon to do this a couple times for the same task.

Each time you have to re-evaluate and reconsider what to do, you waste valuable time. Over the course of a week, month, or year the time adds up.

Let’s look at a case study:

Nomvula is a Key Account Manager within a large accounting firm. She has many high profile clients, all demanding her time, focus and energy.

Nomvula receives quite a number of emails each day. She is very good with responding timeously. But often finds that about 5 of those daily emails are difficult to respond to. She tends to leave those to deal with later. She often reads those emails twice before taking action on the third time.

What Nomvula does not realise is how much time she wastes by not adopting the “touch it once” principle:

For example, if she takes 2 minutes to re-read those emails, that’s 20 minutes of re-work. Just 20 minutes of re-work a day, 5 days a week for 48-weeks a year adds up to 80 hours. That’s 2 full 40 hour work weeks a year!


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