Productivity: Touch Things Once

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
–Walt Disney

We are probably the single biggest threat to our own productivity. Sure, others can distract us here and there with a text message. Or by stealing us away from what we’re doing. Or by sending us funny cat videos. (I do love cat videos, by the way. Send away.) But our own lack of self-discipline is probably the biggest contributor to our own productivity demise. This is quite evident in how we as human beings tend to put things off. We say stuff like, “We’ll get it done later.” And so emails don’t get returned. Or bills don’t get paid for days on end. Or the leak under the sink never gets fixed. Now there could be pressing reasons why some things get shoved to the very last minute. But more often than not, it’s simply a case of I-don’t-feel-like-it syndrome.


The most productive of us learn to “touch things once.” They accomplish what’s in front of them right then and there and avoid putting it off for later—especially if it takes just a small amount of time to do. If they read an email that requires a response, they respond to it right then and there. If they open a credit card statement that needs paying, they do so right then and there. If they see that the dog’s food bowl is empty, they fill it up right then and there. If there are dirty dishes in the sink, they tackle it right then and there. They refuse to put the small things off for later.

By adopting a touch-it-once habit, we’ll spend far less time worrying about what we didn’t get done and spend more time fully concentrating on the things that really do matter. Also, this will help keep our work and our lives moving forward and not bogged down by the things that should’ve gotten done days ago.