Staying Organized with the One-Touch Rule

One of the biggest pain points with organization that has a significant impact on our productivity is the existence of piles. And when I say piles, I mean both physical and digital piles. For example, stacks of mail, unpacked boxes, unread email, a full but clean dishwasher. Things pile up and suddenly getting through the pile is no longer a task – it’s a project.

I offer a number of tools to help you work through the piles (have you checked out Detox Your Inbox?!) but let’s talk about how you stop piles from starting in the first place.

All you need to know is three little words…

Do – Delegate – Delete

These three words make up the guiding mantra of the One-Touch Rule. The One-Touch Rule is quite simple – take action on an item in one touch by either doing it, delegating it, or deleting it.

DO: Handle it. Take action and get ‘er done!

DELEGATE: Either to another person or you in the future (psst, that means it becomes a task and should land on your to-do list)

DELETE: Toss it, shred it, unsubscribe from it.

As you make your way through your day, repeat to yourself Do – Delegate – Delete. This will keep your mind focused on the action needed for everything you come across.

I’m sure you’re already starting to envision the numerous applications for this rule. Here are a few of my favorites:

Inbox Management: Don’t let unread email pile up. Every time you pop into your inbox, start making decisions. And if make a habit of deleting a marketing email or newsletter, just cruise to the bottom and unsubscribe.

Clean Dishes: We’ve all done it. Open the dishwasher, grab a fork, close dishwasher. However, it would only take you 3 minutes or so to just empty the dishwasher. Just “do” it.

Moving Boxes: If you open the box, empty the box. 

Physical Mail: When you bring your mail into the house, don’t just set it down. Take a few moments to sort through, toss, shred, and handle it. 

Bonus Pile Eliminating/Organization Tip: Never leave a room empty-handed. Before you leave a room, glance around to see what, if anything, needs to be put away or thrown out. 

Now, if you’re looking at your inbox thinking, “I’d love to implement this but what do I do with all these emails?!” Don’t fret. My Detox Your Inbox worksheet will help you not only clear out the backlog but also set up organization and automation so it never gets out of hand again. Get it free here.


Jen Lawrence is a productivity and systems expert passionate about creating ease through systems. With over fifteen years of administrative and project management experience, she helps entrepreneurs develop custom client experience and operations solutions so they can transition from the Chief of Everything to CEO. Learn more about Jen Lawrence at http://www.jenlawrence.co.

3 thoughts on “Staying Organized with the One-Touch Rule

  1. I “race myself” . . . while my water is heating in the microwave for my morning cup of coffee….I RACE against the microwave, to empty the dishrack (we don’t have a dishwasher). I almost always empty the rack before the DING! I have done this for years and STILL win every morning!!

  2. I also swear by the “handle it only once” plan for mail….if at all possible. While my husband was a long-haul trucker (and the one who handles our finances), I opened all the mail & date stamped it, then laid it in a little drawer thing we put in our back-door cube organizer (top drawer is always “recent mail”); he took care of it from there. The second drawer in that little organizer cube was our “file” drawer, so if he needed me to take care of it after he was done with it, then boom–it got filed.

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