Only Handle It Once: An Organizational Game-Changer for ADHD

ADHD therapist Dr. Kimberly Miller of Healthy Mind Sacramento

I got “lightly teased” at home the other day for the fact that as soon as any mundane little task comes up, I always deal with it immediately, rather than placing anything on hold. I sort my mail into piles immediately as I get it. When I do the laundry and determine there is a missing sock, I go hunting down that sock ASAP! What is this about?

Well, I use an organizational strategy that is great for people with ADHD can also been beneficial to anyone trying to up their organization game.

The organizational principal I use at home and work is called OHIO: Only Handle It Once. This means that when dealing with routine, mundane tasks, make a decision with how to handle something immediately so that you can get it off your plate and do not have to waste time and energy coming back to it later.

Oftentimes, people with ADHD have trouble with organization skills and task prioritization. OHIO teaches us that we should make a quick decision for tasks that we are able to deal with quickly and immediately in order to efficiently get those tasks off our mind and free up our mental energy for more important things!

examples of OHIO in action:

  • When you read an email, decide immediately if that email needs a response or not. If it does and it takes you no more than a couple minutes to respond, just do it now!
  • When you get your physical snail mail, sort it immediately into “shred/recycle,” “bills,” “needs further attention later, too involved to deal with now” and set your mail into those piles.
  • If someone calls you at work and asks you to email them a document, email/call someone else, or some other action item that will take about 2 seconds, do that action item while you are still on the phone or immediately upon getting off the phone. That way it never has to get onto your “to-do” list and you don’t have to remember it! Remember, get it off your mind!
  • If you have a phone call you know you need to make but it is the kind you tend to dread (e.g. scheduling a doctor’s appointment, calling the mechanic, getting a quote on repairs for something to your home) rather than wasting more time thinking about how you really need to make that phone call, while it is in your mind as you procrastinate, just MAKE THE CALL! I know, it is uncomfortable, but if you get used to forcing yourself to do things as they pop into your mind, you will get so much more done!

what are the benefits of OHIO for a person dealing with ADHD and organizational difficulties?

  • You do not have to remember to do something later
  • You will not have an endless to-do list
  • Your mind will feel more “freed up” and relaxed
  • You are not wasting time coming back to the same mail, email, or other task you need to “get to” multiple times
  • Over time, you will notice you are procrastinating less

OHIO summed up

  • OHIO stands for Only Handle It Once
  • OHIO is a great strategy for people with ADHD that struggle with organization skills, time management, and prioritization
  • To use OHIO, if you can deal with an email, call, or snail mail relatively quickly the first time the item comes up, then do it
  • This will save you from wasting more time coming back later deciding how to deal with the item
  • This also means that you won’t forget to do it later, and you never have to put it on a to- do list!

To find out more about ADHD, how it is diagnosed, and how it is treated, please read about ADHD Therapy at Healthy Mind Sacramento.  If you have a child with ADHD, check out 3 key strategies for parenting the ADHD child.

Healthy Mind Sacramento is a specialty therapy practice focusing on treatment of neurobehavioral disorders in kids ages 10+ and adults. Videoconference and in-office treatment is available. For more information, get in touch.