OHIO, Only Handle It Once, is a golden rule among Organizers. It’s meant to teach our clients how to forestall “churning” – a word I dislike intensely! Churning – I prefer “shuffling ” – is a behavior where people try to make keep/let go decisions about their possessions, but only end up moving stuff from new pile to new pile to new pile. Organizers put OHIO in place by encouraging our clients to avoid any hesitation as they evaluate items – for example, you don’t get “I’m not sure” as an option. Touch something once, make a decision that generates a long-term solution to an object’s status, keep going. Some Organizers even try to tie the action to a timer.
OH HECK I OBJECT. OHIO is the technique I most frequently toss out the door when I’m working with someone. OHIO rushes people. It stresses them. It doesn’t really let them make decisions based on analysis of the qualities and quantities of their items, especially if they have multiples of things. So, in my maybe-not-so-humble opinion, it doesn’t teach genuine decision-making skills, and it creates opportunities for regret, resentment and second-guessing. My clients sometimes touch things three, four, five times over the course of months.
Granted, OHIO is often used in extreme situations – environments where safety is a concern, and the volume of items in question is so vast it’s absolutely impossible to make decisions about each and every thing without launching a process that could last years. Under those circumstances, it is often critical to generate OHIO standards for entire categories of belongings – “all the pots and pans except this brand go.” BUT, if safety isn’t a consideration, if there are no deadlines for inspections, government fines or evictions, maybe don’t visit OHIO.
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