Coaching for Creatives | Touch it Once


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.

I’ll be practicing touch it once this week. What do you think? Are you game?

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  1. Sounds like something I should absolutely try. I tend to think I can make things later and they pile up or I end up forgetting.

    Hope all is good there. Seems like Oklahoma had it hard with this hurricane…

  2. Emma

    I love this idea. I’m always trying to get my boyfriend to do this with his stuff, but I think I’ll take a look at the things I should take care of right away. Maybe he will follow my lead! (Especially the dishes thing)


  3. Jess

    Between James and I both having full time jobs, then fulfilling our dream job on nights and weekends. Our dishes and laundry pile is out of hand. I don’t do them because they just seem like too much to add to my plate, but this is a genius way of looking at it.

  4. Whitney

    Great idea and most timely for this gal. For instance, last night I was rinsing a dish and thought, “oh, I’ll actually wash it later.” Then my brain switched gears and said, “um, you’re already holding the dish and the sponge…all you need to do is add soap. Duh.” But, this is exemplary of my whole life and the three examples you mentioned above (plus some, and even then some more). Thanks for offering this up and volunteering to be a living example. I’m onboard too.

  5. I’ve been putting this in to practice for a while now and find that I’m living a much tidier and much happier life.

    There are no things sat around threatening me to do them later (that nagging feeling of things that need doing that doesn’t go away and actually demotivates you from doing them). Washing up gets done after every meal, if I see something that needs doing, I just do it as long as I don’t have to be out the door to be somewhere.

    Its quite quick to get in to the groove of doing and where you might think that doing the things will take time and its better to do them when you “have” time, that moment never comes and seems to breed and multiply stuff that needs attention until it becomes unmanageable and miserable making (who knew dishes could be attention seeking brats that seem to quietly scream at you whilst you’re doing something else…).

  6. Tammy

    I so needed this thought today, thank you!

  7. Yes! In the past two weeks I have been trying my own version of this game. It’s such a simple premise and yet so hard to do consistently (at least for me). I’m especially bad at shedding shoes and jewelry all over the house, so now every time I exit a room I try and grab one thing to put away or back in place. Also, my husband would totally commiserate with Jeremy on the dishes.. I love to place them in the sink, however washing or throwing in the dishwasher just never quite seems to happen….

  8. Betsy

    Another person who needed that reminder, too! The “touch it once” way of doing things really does get results, so thanks for the e-nudge to adopt it again!

  9. I was pretty much raised on this principle, so luckily for me I’m one of those assholes that can say it’s second nature for me to do this. 😉

    My husband, on the other hand, is the total opposite. He was fascinated by it when we first moved in together because to him, it takes a conscious effort to get up and put an empty glass/plate/bowl in the sink immediately after he’s done – but for me, I don’t even think about it.

    Keep at it, and you’ll get better about it. Life is so much less stressful if you can take out the extra steps in your day – and you’ll be setting a great example for Fox when he gets older as well!

    • Glenda

      Same here… raised on that principle. My mom hated “A” dirty dish in the sink. My mom’s motto “why leave something for later or tomorrow do it now”

      I’m more “get it done and over with” “just do it”

      Keep at it! It gets easier :)

  10. This is my motto this year: Stop making excuses, and just DO shit.

    Basically the same thing. Email is my biggie. I will avoid and avoid, and it’s stupid and irresponsible and makes my life more difficult. So now I’m not waiting to respond anymore.

    Thanks for the reminder that it should follow me into other areas of my life…

  11. I use this approach in my day job and find it very effective. Rather than jumping from one thing to another I write a to do list and set blocks of time for each item on it. I get way more done. Obviously impromptu things comes up in between but for the most part my day are a lot less stressful!

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  13. This is such a wonderful sentiment. And one that I seriously need to learn how to place.

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  15. Emily

    Every time I open my email I can’t get this idea out of my head. It’s driving me nuts and making me more productive at the same time! 😉

  16. I always feel like there’s something better to do. But I hate a messy kitchen and I always aim to wash my dishes as soon as I’m done with them.

    This is definitely a mantra I will be applying to all aspects of my life!

    Thanks for the inspiration – once again!

    Maria xx

  17. I understand completely. I just had a talk with myself last week about the “do-it-now” principal. Same idea, just do it now instead of putting it down for later.

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  19. Wow! I wrote this down straight away on a post it note! I like this idea a lot & I do already do this with some things… but what a nice sentence to remind me to do this with everything I can!

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