Touch it Once. Myth or Reality?


If you like to follow tips and tricks for decluttering and organizing, the chances are good you’ve heard the advice that you should only have to touch something once. Typically, this is in relation to paper. The idea is that you have such a good system that you should never have to move the paper again-thus only touching it once. But, I’m calling myth on that one!

Having organized systems means that you know where something is going to ‘live’ and you place it there until you need it again. And when you need it again, you’re going to touch it again but you are able to find it and access it quickly and easily. You’ve got a flow to your system and you can count on it every time.

Let’s look at the flow of a piece of paper that you are going to touch more than once, yet still be organized. You walk to your mailbox and take out a newsletter from your homeowner’s association (touch).  You bring all the mail into the house and place it into a basket on the counter until you can process your mail. After dinner you reach into the basket to pull out all the mail and process it, recycling and shredding as you go. You hold the HOA newsletter in your hand (touch) and then place it into your action system folder labeled: “To Read.” The next morning, you get a cup of coffee, a bowl of oatmeal and pull your reading materials out of your folder, including your HOA newsletter. You grab the newsletter (touch), read it and then place it in your file cabinet in your HOA folder-I know you have that!

How many times did you touch it? Three times. But you knew where it was, you were purposeful with your system as well as practical. Now, if you have a newsletter you don’t want to read, then you should only touch it once-straight from the mailbox to the recycle bin.

Sometimes organizing and decluttering advice sounds good, but if it’s not practical you may feel like you’re doing it wrong if you’re failing. Be sure to measure all advice against practicality and, yes, my advice is always practical…What do you think? And yes, I’m laughing. But really, that is always my goal-practical, not perfect.

From my column in the Lake Stevens Ledger.

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