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Exactly 4 weeks ago today, I turned on my iPhone read receipts. I know, you HATE those things. You see that time stamp pop up, crickets, no response. And then hundreds of things go through your head why that person didn’t respond. First of all, get over it, it is just a text message. Second, why do I even use them?

It Keeps Me Accountable.

What do I mean by it keeps me accountable? Think about it. Most of us, even though we don’t want to admit it, have a process of responding to text messages.

  1. Receive the text message
  2. Open the text message
  3. Read the message
  4. Process the message, and come back to it later at another time
  5. Respond


A lot of us have an issue at number four. Process the message, and come back to it later at another time. This is the issue. If you don’t do this for text messages, I’m sure you do it for email or something else in your life. You are wasting precious time. You are touching the message twice, which means transitioning your mind from one task to another, TWICE.


You are losing more than just the time it takes to read the message. You are losing by in multiple ways.

  • Switching your tasks in your brain (takes about 10 minutes to refocus)
  • Reading the message
  • Processing the message (long period of time)
  • Remembering to respond at a later time (garbage stored in your brain)
  • Rereading the message
  • Processing the message over again
  • Responding

This entire process is draining you more than you know, and most of us don’t even realize it.


By turning on my read notifications, it keeps me accountable to read the message and immediately respond to it then and there. This is the one-touch approach. Touch it once, and immediately do it.


I first became fully aware of this concept in one of my classes; Entrepreneurship Leadership Seminar taught by the founder of Kinkos, Paul Orfaela. The one-touch approach is simple. Never touch something more than once. If you do, you are just adding more clutter and chaos to your life.


Now that I’ve been able to perfect the one-touch approach on emails and text message, where else can I apply it?


How to Implement the One-Touch Approach ANYWHERE


It is incredibly easy to apply the one-touch approach with the simple, three-step process illustrated below.


  1. What is the problem?

First, identify your problem. By breaking the problem down into different parts of a process, it will be easier to delegate where you apply your time. Rather than one large task, you will have multiple smaller tasks and have one chance to touch each one of them.


In most cases, such as an email or text message there is only one problem at the moment and there is no need to identify or break it down further.


  1. How long will it take?

If any of you use Omnifocus, then you already know about GTD or “Getting Things Done.” One of the rules in GTD is the Two Minute Rule. The rule states that if something takes less than two minutes to complete, do it right away. Otherwise, prioritize it based on time to do it later.


  1. If you start it, you might as well finish it

Once you start stabbing at a problem, you might as well finish it, otherwise you’re just wasting time and energy since you will have to refocus at a later point on the same task.


Where Else Can You Apply the One-Touch Approach?


You can apply this technique anywhere you seem fit as long as you apply the three-step process. Here are some examples of where else I’ve applied it.


  1. Dishes

Right after I finish eating, I immediately wash all of my dished and put them into the dish washer.

  1. Reading

When I start a blog post or similar short article, I read it all the way through. When I apply this to books, I typically read ¼ of a book at a time—it keeps my mind focused for a longer period of time since it takes a little while for me to get into a book.

  1. Phone Calls

I return phone calls back right away when someone leaves me a voicemail.

  1. Packing My Work Bag

When I get home from work, the first thing I do is unload all of my dirty clothes and towel, and refresh the clothes for the next day and lay out my athletic clothing on the floor next to my bed, and immediately pack my lunch for the next day.

  1. Cleaning Your Apartment

Just clean it all up, and stop wasting your time coming back to it here and there “when you have time.” Do it once, and repeat on a consistent schedule. I booked a calendar appointment every other Sunday to clean mine.


As you can see, this approach can be implemented in a variety of places in life, but it may seem a bit limited.


How Can I Enhanced the One-Touch Approach Even Further?


Well, with the one-touch approach, to make it even more effective, bulk organize your tasks. I am known to do this with my texts and emails. I tend not to respond unless immediately, if something was urgent, somebody would call me. Instead, my messages continue to pile until I have a free chunk of time. At this time, I bulk-read and respond to emails and text messages. It allows me to fully focus on one thing, and be as effective as possible.


I know this may overwhelm some people and make them anxious, having so many people trying to get in contact with them, but I’ve noticed that it actually makes me so much less stressed. It allows me to put my focus directly into other tasks rather than sending minimal text messages. And I know when I send a text, I should be expecting one back sooner or later.


Another way of enhancing this approach is to use the Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 Rule.


The Pareto Principle.

If you have read The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris, you know about this. I can assure you that this principle is so true. Stop wasting your time on useless things that only yield 20% of the results. Refocus your time and do some A/B Testing to see where you’re going wrong.


An example of combining these two ideas is email unsubscribe. Rather than touching than newsletter, and never reading it, just unsubscribe. You may realize an email is contributing to the bottom 20% of your results and getting in your way. You are touching it, and leaving it there for later, further cluttering your mind.


Next Steps


Now that you understand what the One-Touch Principle is, I suggest that you consciously apply it to one specific task in your life, be it email, or somewhere else where it will be suited better.


After than becomes second nature, revisit this article and continue to expand where else it can be applied to in your life. Be conscious about when someone asks you to do something, and just think to yourself, “Touch it once.”