Thursday, September 3, 2009

One Touch for Organization




Let me be clear about one thing. I am not an organizational guru or expert or authority or anything else. I'm just a busy girl, trying to stay on top of my life, sometimes succeeding. Sometimes not. Nothing in my house is alphabetized or color-coordinated or chronologically cataloged. I'm just striving for tidiness and an overall efficiency in my life. I could probably learn ten things from each of you about being better organized (please comment with suggestions!) So...there's that. Now. Without any further ado, here's the post I wrote for today:

As my life gets complicated by more children, more activities, more appointments, a busier spouse, I am finding the need for organization growing right along with the demands. The concept of "One Touch" is just snappy and simple enough to stay in my head and actually influence the way I manage daily affairs around here.

The One-Touch Rule is essentially this:

When you are presented with something (a misplaced shoe, a voicemail, an appointment to schedule) handle it right then - "touch" it only once.

That little phrase * One Touch * lights up daily when I come across a misplaced shoe, the day's mail, an unpaid bill, a phone call that requires scheduling. It is my natural inclination to brush these to-do's aside; I'm an extraordinary procrastinator. But that only leads to clutter of head and home. So, instead of kicking the misplaced shoe to the periphery so I'll stop tripping on it, I am trying to immediately return it to the closet. And sort and recycle the pile of mail before it has a chance to become paper clutter. And pay the bill. And...

I think you get it.

You are, of course, more likely to succeed with one touch if you have a foundation of organization already in place (an established place for supplies and belongings, a calendar for scheduling, a system of communication for relaying messages, etc.) But I've found that when I'm trying to only touch my to-dos once, I'm more likely to get those systems in place; goodness begetting goodness.

Try it. One Touch. It's a dandy.

What are your guiding principles for organization/efficiency?

-- Em

15 comments:

Stefani M. said...

I've tried the one touch (with some success and some failure)... the bigger the house, the harder that principle is to apply... and not that I live in a big house by any means. I DO however, try to grab things that go certain places while I am on my way to that place. And I've started implementing a basket during clean-up, so that I can toss things that DON'T go in that room into the basket to sort when I'm done, rather than leaving every 5 seconds to put something away in another room.

danielle said...

Yeah...I am afraid I am no help...this is my ETERNAL quest, Organization. I am afraid that Ritalin might be my only hope;)

Kristy said...

I have never been Ms. Tidy, but my sister stumbled upon the book, Houseworks, by Cynthia Townley Ewer and had me read it. I am hooked! It would be imppossible to implement every strategy in the book (at least for me), but I have started to do the little things around the house and I feel so much better about myself and the small home that I have created.

Linds said...

The problem for me with the one-touch system is I'll pick up that item, head for the bedroom to put it away, and then forget why I was going that way. I'll walk back to where I started, still holding the item in my hand, and probably pick up something else to put away. Then the cycle starts over. It's really hard when you start losing your mind. =) I prefer to wait until the end of the day, pile my arms full of things and then drop things off where they go as I go. Just hope company doesn't drop by in the middle of the day!!

Alissa said...

We are mostly messy, but occasionally jump on the "live clean" band wagon. Instead of cleaning up, we try to live clean.

Emily Anne said...

i don't alway use "one touch" -- (ie we only clean up toys once a day, and I often leave the dishes in the sink 'til dinner time, otherwise i'd be picking up toys and washing straggling cups all day long).

but i do find that my mind is clearer when i handle to-do's right as they come up (if possible) - reply to the e.mail, make the phone-call, schedule the appt. -- if i can't get to it right away, it helps to make a list. this just makes me less likely to completely forget. and the looming to-do's aren't causing mental clutter/stress.

Jen said...

I'm discovering that I am very much a creature of habit, and my brain gives all my stuff a PLACE, whether I like that place or not. The mail goes in the MAIL PLACE. The laundry goes in the LAUNDRY PLACE. Our shoes end up by the couch because, out of laziness or convenience or whatever, that has become the SHOE PLACE. All the clutter? Mostly stuff that doesn't yet have a PLACE. So if I'm not happy with the PLACE--or lack thereof--my brain has adopted, I just have to consciously choose a new one (the SHOE PLACE is in the closet) and start putting stuff there. Somehow it works.

And now the word "place" has lost all meaning for me.

Sally said...

I myself have just started to use the one touch system, although I didn't know it was called that. The other thing that has really helped me to stay organized lately is to constantly be on top of my kids. Instead of ignoring the shoes they left in the hall because I didn't have the energy to fight with them about picking them up, I've made every effort to call them back as soon as I notice. And guess what. There usually is no fight. They are much more willing to pick up a little at a time than to clean up a huge intimidating mess. My only hope is that after a while they will simply learn to put it away the first time. I'm not holding my breath for that one though.

Rachael said...

Hmm--guess I've been using the one touch system all along!

Emily, you've heard plenty about my cleaning lists :-) I think the biggest thing that helps me is that I just do everything when it comes up. The kids pick up their toys as soon as they're done playing, we put things in the dishwasher as soon as we've used them, we make our beds as soon as we get up, I deal with the mail while it's still in my hand from the mailbox. I've found that if I put it off or set something down, it will NEVER get done, because I'm out of my normal routine and I just don't have time to go back. And as a family, we pick up EVERYTHING at the end of the day that's out of place--I've found it helpful to just have a laundry basket to collect everything, then sort it all out and take it back to the right place simultaneously.

And, of course, everyone in our family gets stressed if the house is messy, so we all make an effort to keep things picked up. I don't know if this is a good or bad thing to pass on to my kids; hopefully they'll just end up tidy instead of OCD.

Nikki Douglas said...

(A friend of Anne's from HA days...and SOOO excited about this blog!) Such an awesome idea! For years (not that I remember to do it all the time, but I try) I have been using/borrowing "Just do it" and "Do it now". Don't drop the soiled clothes from the baby in a pile by the changing table...put them in the hamper...just do it now. Need to make the bed? Just do it now. Etc. There are a lot of "Just do it now"s but I'm with you...if I continually try my best at this I get a lot more done than if I tried to make up a priority list and analyze the best use of my time before deciding which piles to attack. One touch...just do it now...isn't it awesome to see how sometimes our inspirations as women end up in the same place without even trying! It makes me feel like I must be doing something right.

Mrs. Cropper said...

Did any of you read that awesome article in the most recent RealSimple all about unitasking? It's written by a guy who was obsessed with multi-tasking, and it was totally messing him up. He talks about how we are actually more productive if we focus on one thing until it's done and how are brains can only really do one cognitive thing at a time. So sure, I can talk on the phone while I do something brainless, like unload the dishwasher, but trying to talk while I answer emails is too much for my brain. Anyway, it is a great article. Taylor has studied this a lot in business and told me it's called "one piece flow" or something like that. I really love the concept and am trying to do it as much as possible. Thanks, Em!
-Anne

Valerie said...

I am kind of a neat freak, and after I read your article I started thinking... what is my routine. I think that each day I decide on something I might work on. And then do only that. For instance, if I really need to clean out one of the boys closets, I do only that. Then if I take their old clothes and toys out to the garage, I might think, ok I will work on putting these away organized in the garage tomorrow. That way I have at least finished one task, and am not overwhelmed with having to organize too much. I also pick a time of day when I am not going to be interrupted (nap and school time), because I think getting interrupted is what causes most of us not to finish the task at hand.

Joan said...

Great concept. In fact, this post reminded me of two very important emails that I have put off writing since Tuesday! Ha! So, thank you for the inadvertent reminder, my dearest! :)

Megh said...

I am a one-toucher in the making! If I don't pay a bill the second I see it, I fear it will slip my mind. And just last week, I said to myself, "Why do I have a file called "Needs to be Filed"? It gets giant and then the task makes me growl. One touch, and I could have filed that thing in the first place!

My other strategy is "commercial cleaning" or "sprint organizing". I never want to spend an entire afternoon organizing, so I try to do five minutes sprints, just a few times a day. If I let myself watch Oprah, it's on the condition that I spend every commercial organizing or cleaning like my life depended on it. It's amazing what you can get done during a commercial break.

LCM said...

When I get the mail, I open and separate right then. I toss what can be tossed, file what needs to be filed and shred anything that needs to be shredded. I also have a milk crate in the back of my van where I put anything that needs to be returned, coupons, like Bed Bath and Beyond ones, magazines for working out, etc.