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Mastering Efficiency: How to Ensure Work Crosses Your Desk Only Once and Reduce Stress

Updated: Feb 16

In today's fast-paced world, time is of the essence, and every moment counts. Whether you're a student, a professional, or an entrepreneur, mastering efficiency is crucial for success. One effective way to boost your productivity and reduce unnecessary stress is to adopt the principle of allowing work to cross your desk only once. This principle, often referred to as the "touch it once" rule, is a powerful technique that can help you streamline your workflow and ensure that tasks don't pile up on your desk. In this blog post, we'll explore the concept of only allowing work to cross your desk once and provide you with practical tips to implement it in your daily life.


What Does It Mean to Only Allow Work to Cross Your Desk Once?


The "touch it once" principle is a productivity strategy that encourages you to handle tasks and decisions immediately when they come to your attention. Instead of letting work pile up or procrastinating, you tackle each item as soon as it crosses your path, effectively reducing the need to revisit it later. This approach helps minimize distractions, prevents tasks from accumulating, and allows you to focus on what matters most.


Implementing the "Touch It Once" Rule


1. Sort and Prioritize:


The first step in implementing this principle is to sort and prioritize your tasks. Create a to-do list or use a task management app to list all the items that require your attention. Categorize them based on urgency and importance, and tackle the most critical tasks first.


2. Set Clear Goals:


Before you start working on a task, make sure you have a clear goal in mind. Knowing the desired outcome will help you stay focused and efficient. Ask yourself what needs to be accomplished and what steps are required to achieve it.


3. Eliminate Distractions:


To fully embrace the "touch it once" rule, eliminate distractions from your workspace. Turn off unnecessary notifications, close unrelated tabs or apps on your computer, and let your colleagues or family members know when you need uninterrupted time to work.


4. Take Immediate Action:


When a task or decision crosses your desk, take immediate action. If a task can be completed in a few minutes, do it right away. If it requires more time, schedule it for later, but ensure it's on your calendar.


5. Delegate:


Don't hesitate to delegate tasks when appropriate. If someone else is better suited to handle a particular task or if it's not within your area of expertise, pass it on to the right person or team.


6. Avoid Multitasking:


Multitasking can lead to decreased productivity and increased errors. Stick to one task at a time, complete it, and then move on to the next. This way, you can give each task your full attention.


7. Use Technology Wisely:


Leverage productivity tools and technology to streamline your workflow. Tools like task management apps, email filters, and automation software can help you stay organized and efficient.


8. Review and Reflect:


At the end of each day or week, review your completed tasks and reflect on your productivity. Identify any areas where you can improve and make necessary adjustments to your workflow.


Benefits of the "Touch It Once" Approach


Embracing the "touch it once" principle offers numerous benefits:


1. Reduced Stress: With tasks not piling up, you'll experience less stress and overwhelm.

2. Enhanced Productivity: You'll accomplish more in less time by focusing on one task at a time.

3. Improved Time Management: The principle encourages effective time management and prioritization.

4. Enhanced Decision-Making: You'll make decisions promptly, preventing indecision from slowing you down.



Mastering the art of allowing work to cross your desk only once is a powerful strategy for boosting productivity and reducing stress. By prioritizing tasks, setting clear goals, and taking immediate action, you can streamline your workflow and make the most of your valuable time. So, don't let tasks accumulate—implement the "touch it once" rule and experience the benefits of increased efficiency in your daily life.



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