Time Saver – Touch it Only Once
It’s 10:00pm. Do you know where your day has gone? Time has a way of moving even if we get behind. The day comes to a close and unless we are very careful, we end our day no further ahead than when we started.
I teach my clients to take control of their time by taking control of the small things. One of the more simple techniques is the “touch it only once” theory. When a piece of paper comes across your desk you have to make a checkmark on it. Then you have to decide right then and there what to do with it. Because if you set it down and pick it up again, you have to make another check mark.
You are probably asking why this is important, right? Well, think about it this way. Every time you re-read the same piece of mail, or the same report, or the same bill, you are using twice as much of your time as you really needed to use. Instead, the first time you pick it up decide what needs to be done with it and do it.
Is it a report or bill that does not require attention until next week? Then file it directly into a folder that you will open next week. Don’t leave it sit on your desk. If you do, every time you glance at it you will be distracted and you will lose focus from what you should be doing at that moment. Losing focus matters, even if only for a few seconds.
Is it something that doesn’t require your attention at all; perhaps an advertisement that you have no interest in? Try tossing it now. Don’t put in on your desk to deal with later; if you do that often enough, later will end up requiring twenty minutes of your time sorting through trash that you should have discarded already.
If the piece of paper requires your immediate attention, then give it. Complete the task at that moment and be done with it. If you can’t give it your full attention at that moment, put the piece of paper in a place where you can retrieve it quickly when you can give it your full attention. On top of your desk is not the right place. Try a top drawer or an inbox that sits behind you out of your direct field of vision.
Time management is about a lot of small things. It is about small habits that change your daily behaviors and help you become more organized. If you learn to manage the minutes, the hours will simply fall into place. Before you know it, something as small as touching a piece of paper only one time can add an extra 5 minutes of productive time to your day. Five minutes, five days per week, 50 weeks per year (I’m assuming a two-week vacation)…That comes to an extra 1,250 minutes in a year. That’s nearly 21 extra hours to enjoy. That is almost an entire extra day – all from creating one very small habit.