Handle things the least amount of times possible. Want to get things done – touch it once. No matter what comes to your attention, endeavor to handle it only one time. Don’t let things shuffle from pile to pile. Don’t let to-dos shuffle from day to day.
Notice as you go through your day how often you deal with the same piece of mail, shuffle the same document lower on the inbox pile or move a piece of equipment or materials out of the way. Create a new habit of ‘once only’, and make that a habit among all of your staff.
Some things take two touches. Group all the bills for processing at a time when it is most efficient for you to do so. Reroute documents that need input from another person. The point – minimize the number of times you have to touch something. Handle it now, once and decisively.
Multitasking is rampant. For better or worse, we’re rewiring our brains for what the technology industry now calls ‘continuous partial attention.’ Lucy Jo Palladino, Find Your Focus Zone
Five Days of Action
Take some time today to think about how well you “handle it now, once and decisively.” Do things pass through your hands once? Do responsibilities get shuffled from one day to the next? What sorts of things are you good at touching only once? What needs attention?
For the whole day practice ‘touch it once’ on email, mail, documents, conversations and meeting items. Be disciplined for the entire day and notice the result.
Have a “handle it now, once and decisively” staff day for senior leadership. See what happens and what people have to report after the day is over.
Take the bottom two inches of your inbox papers and throw them in the trash can or shred them. If that two inches has sat there for much time, you probably don’t need it. If this stresses you, get cracking and get the work taken care of.
Resolve to live a very different life, a “handle it once and handle it decisively” life. Think about what that will mean and what adjustments you may need to make. Make them.