The Renegade Organizer
Office Organized. Business Systemized. Profits Maximized.

You Should Touch it Lots!

The way that I help clients deal with paper management requires them to touch a piece of paper several times.  Almost any time I bring this up in a workshop, somebody brings up the idea that you should “only touch paper once” – that as soon as you pick something up you should follow it through to completion.  There have been a number of books written about this and let me just say that, for my money, this is the WORST idea I have ever heard for small business organization.

I spent some time on the internet before writing this blog reading about people who espoused this theory. Everyone I found modified it in some way that actually required them to touch paper more than once.

This issue is priorities.  Tons of paper comes across our desks that requires us to take some action.  Some of it is important and some of it is not.  I cannot be in charge of my priorities if every time  I touch a piece of paper I have to follow it through to completion, even if the piece of paper I touch is low priority and will take me two hours to deal with.

One thing that often happens in traditional business organization/operations is that we confuse efficiency for effectiveness.  Those of you who have read my Paper Management book or taken the workshop know that I go through all of my “take action” papers every single day and make a decision about what is going to get done that day.  There are pieces of paper that I might touch 100 times .  You could argue with the efficiency of that system.  However, let’s focus on the steak here and not the peas (I’m working on my Texas metaphors – what do you think?).  It allows me to control my priorities, make decisions based on real deadlines, and I never forget about anything – but I don’t have to keep it all over my desk to avoid the “out of sight, out of mind” trap.  It’s hard to argue with the effectiveness of my system.

I’ve never met a busy business owner for whom “only touch it once” actually worked, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t out there.  As always, if what you are doing works, please ignore me and keep doing what you’re doing.

However, if you are beating yourself up because you are failing at the “only touch it once” philosophy, please feel free to permanently store that philosophy in the circular file and try something else immediately!

One Response to “You Should Touch it Lots!”

  1. Finally! Someone else has confirmed my thoughts on the subject of the touch-once philosophy. It seems so nice in theory, but it just doesn’t work in the real world.

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