How would you feel if everything you touched turned to gold?
Yes, I’m talking about having The Midas Touch.
Disney Classic Short: King Midas and the Golden Touch
Obviously, there are logistical problems with having a touch of gold…
But what if you could have a touch of gold, WITHOUT the side effects?
What if everything you touch, METAPHORICALLY turned into gold?
Your to-do list, becomes your DONE list…
Every project you start, finished…
Every room you leave, better than you found it…
This is a power you can cultivate.
The “One Touch Rule”
Get the Midas touch: everything you touch, touch it once.
This is called the "One Touch Rule" - when you start something, don’t stop touching it until it’s finished.
"The general idea is that as soon as you touch something, whether it’s piece of mail or a project that needs to be filed, you immediately act on it.
This could be fully completing the task at once, or determining the next actionable steps to move it along."
Source: CNBC Article
When you wake up and drink your favorite morning beverage...
Don’t just put the cup on the counter, on the sink - put it directly in the dishwasher.
…or better yet, or wash it right then and put it away.
When you bring in the mail...
Don’t toss it on the counter – sort the recycling out before it leaves your hands, and sort the other mail directly where it goes.
…or better yet, open your bills, pay them right then, and be DONE with them.
When you pull the laundry from the dryer...
No more "folding phobia" - make it a goal to finish folding it while it's still warm.
When you start to follow this process, you will notice quite a few positive changes.
- Unread emails and voicemails aren’t piling up
- Your desk is organized and counters are clear
- You feel a sense of calm & control as you go through your day
- Your “inbox” is empty because you move tasks to their next stage as soon as you receive them
When you follow the One Touch Rule, you eliminate “Chicken Little Syndrome” – running around like the sky is falling.
But what if you don’t have time to do the task right then?
gives an example we all know too well:
Your boss hands you an additional task. You're “too busy” to do it then, and put it down to do “later”…
"But while you’re working on other things, says Bandes [productivity expert]. Your mind is constantly thinking, 'Ok, I’ve got to do that.'
Lunch comes around and you pick up the report. Since you’re still busy, you put it down and again promise to get to it later.
Although it seems like you’re wasting just a few seconds, these small bits of time quickly add up, says Bandes.
“Plus the brain power that it takes for you to process that information on an ongoing basis is draining.”
By the time you finally look over the report, you’ve already touched it three or four times before actually making an attempt to do something with the document.
This scenario is common in today’s office culture.
Living in the Bay Area, the demand on workers from their employers can be intense.
Long hours, extra tasks, more work piling up…
...all while we’re trying to manage our busy personal lives in the few precious hours of “off time”…
It can feel like dragging a heavy suitcase around with you, wherever you go.
A suitcase full of:
“Phone’s ringing, too busy… I’ll let it go to voicemail”
“I can’t forget to pick up cat food today”
“I have SO much to do today, I don’t know where to start!!”
“I need to respond to that email later today”
“I wonder what I should make for dinner tonight”
“New voicemail… I’ll call them back later”
“Oh yeah, kid’s soccer practice is this afternoon... is their gear ready?”
“I need to start that report soon, the deadline is approaching”
“Utility bill is due next week, can’t forget to pay that soon”
“I should schedule that dentist appointment”
“We’re out of milk and eggs”
“Crap, I still need to call that person back…”
“I’m almost out of clean shirts, need to do a wash soon”
“I still have to wrap up that project…”
“Oh! Customer is here, smile and pretend life is good!”
For many people in today's society, these kinds of thoughts are CONSTANTLY swirling around in our heads - our mental and emotional suitcases are full, heavy, and the pressure is weighing us down.
Managing Emotional Labor
The thoughts above are examples of the emotional labor we carry with us every day.
"Emotional labor refers to the process by which workers are expected to manage their feelings in accordance with organizationally defined rules and guidelines."
Source: Sociology of Emotional Labor
Emotional labor is the way we’re expected to manage our feelings at work, and also at home.
It is also the invisible labor we give to manage household tasks - such as the cleaning, cooking, and other chores.
Everyone deals with some amount of emotional labor, and the key is learning how to manage it.
Pressure Creates Diamonds
Do you know how diamonds are created? By applying extreme amounts of pressure onto coal.
Pressure can do one of two things…
Pulverize you into dust
Strengthen you into a diamond
Pressure can be an incredibly good or incredibly bad thing, depending on your circumstance.
- When we manage our emotional labor WELL...
We feel good, ahead of the curve, on-the-ball, accomplished.
- When we manage our emotional labor POORLY...
We are stressed, forgetful, are juggling and maybe dropping a few balls.
Do you ever watch cooking competition shows, and see some contestants completely CRUMBLE under the time pressure – while others are laser focused and making it happen?
That is the difference of how well they handle their emotional labor.
What can you do?
Strive to “unpack” your sutcase! Eliminate the thoughts you drag around with you, by taking care of a task the moment it comes up.
Eventually, your mental suitcase will be lighter than ever – allowing you to better FOCUS on the task at hand.
Proactive vs Reactive
“But if you take action on everything you touch, isn’t that being REACTIVE instead of PROACTIVE?
Isn’t it better to be proactive in our actions, and not get swept up in whatever tries to grab our attention?”
Yes! Being PROACTIVE is the goal. If you are letting the course of your day be dictated by external circumstances, you are living a reactive lifestyle. This leaves you with less control over your life... making you a victim of circumstance.
To avoid getting swept up into a reactive mindset, it's important to ANALYZE your actions before you get started - almost like a doctor examining a patient.
So let’s take the example above, of the report. When you find yourself “touching” a new task…
First ask yourself: "Is this important? Do I need to do this?"
If the task is not important... don't get distracted by it!
For instance, if you realize your stamp collection needs to be dusted - don't allow yourself to get caught up in "busywork" that doesn't matter in the end.
Once you've decided the task DOES need to be done, ask yourself: "Do I have time to take care of this right now?"
If YES… great! Get it done, touch it once!
If NO… will this take me less than 5 minutes? If so, just do it NOW. Touch it once.
If NO, I REALLY DON’T HAVE TIME… don’t just set the task aside.
Before you move on: what is the next step for this task? Prepare it for the next stage, such as adding a specific time to work on it to your day’s calendar and filing it in your “TODAY” pile.
No time today? Be realistic with yourself. If it’s not possible to do today, schedule it for whenever it’s REALISTIC.
Then, when the scheduled time comes up - touch it once, get it done.
What overthinking looks like...
No Half Measures
Once a task comes up that you’ve decided to do at a certain time –
no excuses, no bargaining, just do it.
Keep your promises to yourself, nobody will hold you accountable to these except YOU.
Don’t allow yourself to stop partway through. No half measures.
See it through to completion…
- Don’t shuffle through paperwork all day.
- Never do your dishes halfway.
- Fold the WHOLE LOAD of laundry.
- Fill your gas tank.
Walk by something that needs to be done?
If it’s less than 5 minutes, don’t mentally catalog it for later…
JUST DO IT NOW!
“Do What You’re Doing”
In a world of constant distraction, it’s easy to slip into multi-tasking.
Juggling multiple things at once, even though it’s been proven that multitasking is less effective than focusing on one thing at a time.
"Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers also found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time."
Instead of falling into this productivity trap, DO what you’re doing.
Drop your invisible baggage, and focus only on the task at hand… the task that is literally in your hand, at that moment.
FOCUS – “Follow One Course Until Successful”
Finish it completely, then move onto the next.
Wondering what else you can do?
See related blog post on how to eliminate struggle and follow your optimal path:
"Change Your Habits, Change Your Life"
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