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OHIO: Only Handle It Once

Updated: May 22, 2023

A decluttering practice that helped change my life...

Will you join me in OHIO?

So much of our clutter is delayed decisions. One piece of mail here, one item of clothing there, one unloved impulse buy over there...

Over days, weeks, months, years all those one things add up...and WOW can they add up, right?!

We have the choice every time something comes into our hands to add to the piles or not, to vote for a more cluttered future or a less cluttered one.

As we move through life we have a nearly constant stream of "stuff" moving through our hands. Having opposable thumbs doesn't always make life easier!

Whether we're just doing our day-to-day activities or decluttering our home, the simple idea of OHIO can help - it helps me every single day.

What OHIO really means

Only Handle It Once means instead of putting down what's in our hand without deciding what to do with it, we make a decision about what to do with it and put it where it belongs.

It sounds so simple and sensical, right? So why don't we do it every time we have something in our hands?

A Moment in the Hands, A Lifetime in the House

This is the stuff version of the saying, "A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips."

We know eating fattening things when we're not hungry leads to weight we don't want.

And deep down we know that putting something down without dealing with it now means we'll have to deal with it later.

But we do it anyway and the clutter builds up. Why do we do this to ourselves?

Here's what I see:

  1. We're busy thinking about what we're doing next.

  2. We don't notice what our hands are doing.

  3. We don't have a place for everything.

  4. We think it's too hard.

  5. We think it'll take too much time.

  6. We're overwhelmed by clutter already, so we don't think one more thing matters.

These are some of the reasons I have a job as an organizer and decluttering is a booming industry!

It takes practice to pay attention to what we're doing each moment, and most of us are in the habit of constantly being somewhere else in our minds.

It also takes time and practice to figure out a home for everything.

Thousands of delayed decisions in a home add up to a LOT of clutter, so it seems easier to think, "I don't know where to put this, so I'll just put it here for now," than to figure out what to do with aaallll those things.

But is it really easier?

After years of feeling angst about all the piles and living surrounded by things I didn't like but didn't know what to do with, I finally took the time to give EVERYTHING a home.

Yes it was time consuming, and yes, it was challenging.

But was it worth it? YES!!

Now I take the time almost every single day to practice OHIO.

Whether I'm clearing piles or just bringing in the mail, practicing making decisions and putting things where they belong as soon as I touch them helps my home from turning back into a disaster zone.

And the days I DON'T practice OHIO, it's mind boggling how much of a mess I can make!

My living room after returning from a kayak camping trip

You don't have to wait until everything in your house has a home. You don't have to wait until your home looks like a Pinterest post or a magazine photo.

I challenge you to join me in practicing OHIO starting right now.

But first...

Practicing OHIO doesn't mean stabbing yourself with guilt every time you realize you put something down "just for now" again!

It just means practicing paying attention more often and practicing making decisions when you can.

The OHIO Challenge:

  1. Notice what you're doing with your hands.

  2. Give yourself a moment to make decisions when you find something in them.

  3. Make decisions that spare your Future Self from more work later.

You've got this!

Join me in the land of OHIO and let me know how it goes!



Please remember that I'm here for you! Reach out if you have questions and/or you feel stuck.

There's no need to struggle with clutter anymore - you're not alone and I can help you feel better right away.

For inspiration and organizing tips in your in-box, join my e-newsletter, Sunbeams. Inspiration only, no spam, I promise :)

PS: In case you were worried, I practiced OHIO and cleared that room above :)

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