Let’s Play a Game

Let me tell you about a fun game I call One Touch. Okay, yes, it’s really a productivity concept, but it’s much more fun to think of it as a game. 🙂

Here’s how to play:

The objective of the game is to touch everything you come across just once. Things such as:

  • Physical paper and mail
  • Email
  • Thoughts and ideas

The more times you touch the same thing to complete it, the worse you’re doing. One Touch is like golf – your goal is to hit the ball into the hole with the fewest strokes. The ultimate win is a hole-in-one. It’s the same for One Touch.

There’s a lot of repetitive busywork we create sifting and shuffling things around. We often look through our email multiple times a day, seeking out those urgent ones that need a quick response. When you do this, your brain is processing the same emails over and over again.

Another example: How many times have you had the same thought pop into your head such as, “Oh, I need to call and make that appointment,” before you write it down on your to-do list or simply do it? Your brain is working hard to remember and remind you over and over again.

There’s also physical piles of paper and mail that need to be processed. Let’s take a look at an example of how many times a player touches a doctor’s bill before he’s done with it:

Player A

  1. Player A brings in the mail and puts it in a pile to go through later.
  2. Later, he flips through the pile and pulls out the urgent ones, skipping over the doctor’s bill because he knows he has some time before it’s due.
  3. He repeats Step 2 a few more times over the next few weeks.
  4. Player A realizes it’s been a while and he should open the doctor’s bill to see how much he owes.
  5. He reads it and put it in a to-do pile to do later.
  6. He flips through his to-do pile to see what’s urgent and skips over the doctor’s bill because it’s not due yet.
  7. He repeats Step 6 a few more times.
  8. Player A then sees the bill is now due and he writes a check, putting it in the envelope to mail.
  9. He puts the original bill in a to-file pile.
  10. He later realizes he needs to reference the bill and has to flip through the giant to-file pile, taking 10 minutes to find it.

Now, you may better at the One Touch game than Player A. However, in this play, you can see Player A touched the doctor’s bill over 10 times, definitely leaving room for improvement.

Now, multiply the number of touches with the number of items you process in a day. It can be a HUGE number! It’s no wonder why we are so busy and overwhelmed. Are you ready to win a One Touch?

Improve Your Game

Imagine if you could touch every email or piece of mail just once, or if you only had to remind yourself once to do a task or jot down a great idea? You’d be experiencing a whole new level of productivity! Here’s what it could look like:

Player B

  1. Player B checks his mail and opens them all immediately for sorting and put the doctor’s bill in his tickler file to pay in three weeks.
  2. Three weeks later, he opens his tickler file and pays the bill, and scans and shreds the document. Done!

The secret to getting great at One Touch is to first become aware of how often you touch the same email, have the same reminder thought or idea, or shuffle the same papers around on your desk.

Once you really take notice of this, you’ll see how much time and brain space you can save by One Touch. It’s time to go for the hole-in-one! Process quick win items right away and triage larger projects by scheduling them into your calendar.

Get really good at this game and your productivity will skyrocket!