I just learned it while at an Education Week class a couple months ago, and it opened up my eyes to why things in my house can get so out of hand so fast. I'm not going to say I'm any sort of pro at keeping the one-touch rule yet, but I have definitely been more aware of it as I go about my day.
How the one-touch rule works:
Basically, you only touch an item once in order to put it in its place. Seems simple enough, right?
I thought so, too. But trying to live it has shown me that I tend to touch things three or four times before they finally get put away.
For example, because we live in such an old home, our bedroom closet is tiny. My husband's clothes go in the closet in our bedroom, and mine are in the closet in the office. While I would sure love to have my clothes in the bedroom, too, the way the rods are built means that most of my long dresses don't fit in that closet.
I tend to get ready for bed in the bedroom, because my dresser that holds pajamas is there. It just seems like so much work for me to walk the ten feet to the office to hang up my clothes, so I usually put them on my dresser with the intent of hanging them up in the morning.
But then I don't hang them up in the morning. Instead, I leave them on the dresser until I have 2 or 3 days worth of clothing piled on my dresser. Then, I walk them into the office where I still don't put them away properly! Instead, I lay them nicely over my desk chair with the intention of hanging them up later—whenever that is.
I do eventually put them away, but not before at least one child has come into the office to use the computer and throws my nice clothes on the floor where the dog then walks all over them. Not only did I end up using three or four touches before my clothes are put away, I create even more work for myself when clean clothes end up in the laundry because I didn't hang them up right away.
I admit that this might be one of my worst habits. I justify it every night because I'm just so darn tired, but I'm creating so much extra cleaning for myself that it's just not worth it at all!
1. You get out the stapler to staple some important documents and instead of putting it away immediately, you leave it on the table. Later, you need the table to eat, so you move the stapler to the counter. Once you are doing dishes, you finally put the stapler back where it belongs. 3 touches.
2. You come home from work and set your purse, keys, and jacket on the couch. Later, people need to sit on the couch, so you hang up your coat and move your purse to the floor. 2 touches. (Also, your purse probably needs a permanent home.)
3. When you are finished eating your lunch, you leave your plate and utensils on the table. Later, you move them to the kitchen sink where they sit for several hours until you finally load them into the dishwasher with the dinner dishes. 3 touches. (And another example of why you should do the dishes immediately!)
Touch it once.
For me, it's the clothes thing. And actually, I've inadvertently taught my oldest daughter to do the same—and she even has a closet right in her own room! Her clothes pile right up until it takes her an entire Saturday afternoon to get the all put away and her room cleaned up. Imagine what kind of time she could save if she simply touched her clothes once when she got ready for bed?
We're working on it.
Small Habit: Use the one-touch rule
Big Difference: Cleaner house, more time, more self-discipline
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