One of the most influential leaders at Caterpillar introduced me to the “Touch it Once” productivity concept. That was at least 15 years back.
A quick google search shows that “Touch it Once” is not a unique concept, but I can attest that it can be life-changing when you start to use this method in your daily work.
The idea is that you don’t put things to the side to address later. Once you open an email, you do not start anything else until that message is read and you take some form of action.
For me, it may be simply the action of Archiving each email I read. However, when a response or action is needed, I make it a point to not move on to anything else until I’m able to move the item along to it’s next stage.
Of course, there will be occasional distractions that don’t allow you to finish taking the action at that minute, but the key is, don’t jump to another task or email until you finish addressing that open item.
The “Touch it Once” method is so valuable because it helps limit the feeling of being overwhelmed.
Before I implemented this method into my working style, I would attempt to read all emails and then prioritize what needed to be done. All the items piled up. If things got in the way, the pile just got larger and larger. The awareness of all those items and half-thoughts on what should be done for each can exhaust a person.
The “Touch it Once” method may be a mind-game since the number of emails may pile up, but until you read the message, it is not filling your mental space.
A benefit of today’s technology is that if something critical and time sensitive is happening, there are so many other ways for people to reach you immediately. So, there has never been a better time to use the “Touch it Once” method.
There is no question in my mind that using the “Touch it Once” method is one of the best personal productivity methods I’ve every implemented. I’ve been using it for at least 10 years. I’d recommend you give it a shot.