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When to apply the one-touch rule and when to skip it

Have you ever heard about the one-touch rule? Initially created by productivity consultant Ann Gomez, the one-touch rule is the action of putting things away or completing a task before you start a new one. 

So why is that rule so attractive and efficient to organized people? Well, touching an item once, by not putting an object down but putting it away instead, will save you time, and your space won’t have clutter everywhere. 

Picture this scenario

When you get home, you take off your coat, leave it on the side of the couch, your keys, glasses, and wallet on the dining room table, your shoes in the middle of the room, and your backpack on the floor by the front door. When you want to sit on the couch, you push the coat to the side to put it on the floor next to the couch; at dinner time, you move your keys, glasses, and wallet to the coffee table, then kick your shoes under the couch so you can play with the kids. The evening goes on, and you keep passing those items around, creating a cluttered space and dealing with the same things multiple times in one evening. 

Now when you apply the one-touch rule

When you get home, you remove your coat and hang it in the coat closet. You place your keys, glasses, and wallet in a basket on the table by the front door. The shoes go in the basket under the same table, and the backpack goes on a hook you installed in the closet. Can you see the difference? Dealing with an item immediately creates less clutter and saves time. 

As you can see, this method can be very efficient when you already have systems in place to maintain this habit. If you don’t create a home for every item in your home and don’t have systems in place, it would be complicated to know where to take the things when applying the on-touch rule.  

When to skip the one-touch rule

That said, I don’t see this method being applied efficiently during purging. Let’s say you find a couple of pens in a room, so you decide to either keep, donate, or trash them. You choose to put them in a box, but by the time you finish purging, you have a box overflowing with pens, so you will need to touch them again to purge further and find a permanent home for them. Just then, you will apply the one-touch rule when you use the pen and put it back in its home. 

If you need to create the systems first, I guide you through a process in my digital book, Organize Yourself Healthy, where you will declutter your home and envision every room of your home. That is the beginning process of creating systems you will be able to maintain along with the one-touch rule. 

This rule can be overwhelming at first if you don’t have systems in place to maintain it. It can also take a lot of mental reminders to keep up with it, but once it becomes part of your habit and you start doing it without thinking, the results are tremendous, and you can see the benefit in your tidy home. 

If you live in a multi-level house, I suggest creating an “upstairs/downstairs basket”. If an item has to go upstairs or downstairs, you can put them in the basket; when you go up or down, you take the basket and put the things away at once. That will avoid multiple trips up and down the stairs. 

Join the Conversation: Share Your Thoughts and Experiences

We’d love to hear from you! What are your thoughts on the topic we discussed in this blog post? Have you encountered similar challenges or had different experiences? Please feel free to share your insights, questions, or personal experiences in the comments section below. Your contributions are invaluable to our community and may inspire others or provide additional perspectives. Let’s continue the discussion and learn from one another.


Don’t forget to count on us if you need a private consultation. We can help you figure out what are the best steps to accomplish your home organizing goals. We also create a personalized shopping guide to organize that odd space or your dream garage. Send us an email or check out our Virtual Organizing Services and Hands-on Services in Baltimore!

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When to apply the one-touch rule and when to skip it - Di is Organize - professional organizer Baltimore, MD.
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Di Ter Avest

Professional organizer

Welcome to my blog where I share my lifestyle, home organization and productivity tips for busy moms.

Organize Yourself Healthy Book

2024 edition coming soon!