Handling Mail the OHIO Way


I opened my mailbox and there were two magazines, five catalogues, a few offers to save money on my car insurance, four political ads, two bills, a bank statement and a notice for jury duty.

Paper seems to be come at me from all directions, especially this time of year. Fortunately, I have a system that helps me stay organized and reasonably free of paper clutter, it’s a combination of the system known as O.H.I.O. which stands for “only handle it once” along with “do it quickly” and “important versus interesting.”

Here’s what the enhanced  O.H.I.O system looks like when applied to incoming paper:

  • When you bring mail into your home place in it’s designated spot. My designated place for mail is the left hand corner of my desk because it works for me. Find a place that works for you. Mail tends to accumulate on kitchen tables, kitchen counters, end tables or any flat surface. Don’t let it. Pick one spot in your house for incoming mail and stick to it.


  • Sort through your mail as quickly as possible. Sorting your mail daily will prevent you from accumulating mountains of mail which can be overwhelming. Mountains of mail tend to be unstable and they morph into mail avalanches and cascade onto the floor.


  • Sort quickly. Set a timer for ten minutes and get going. You can do it. Keep only what is important. Don’t get sucked into mail that is interesting. An ADHD brain finds many things interesting, so be tough. The goal is to manage incoming paper not to become enamored by incoming paper.


Here’s a step by step description of how I handled my incoming mail:


  • I took the two magazines and put them on the pile where I keep other magazines. I took two older magazines out of the bottom of the pile and recycled them. I may never get to read them, but I think I can live with that.


  • I tossed four of the five catalogues. I brought one catalogue into the bathroom for later browsing.


  • I ripped up the offers to save money on my car insurance.


  • I browsed the political ads and then tossed them.


  • I opened the bills, tossed the outer envelopes and put them in the basket on my desk where I keep my bills.


  • I put the bank statement with my other bank statements.


  • I opened the notice for jury duty and put the date in my calendar and pinned the notice to my bulletin board for an extra visual reminder.


The whole process took less than ten minutes and was relatively painless. I know where my magazines are, where my bills are, when I have jury duty and something to read next time I’m on the toilet.

Kathy Sussell is an ADHD coach in Brooklyn, NY. She helps teens, college students and adults with ADHD with time management, planning and prioritizing, getting started with and finishing tasks, organizing paper and objects and improving social skills. She is the organizer of the ADHD Women’s Meetup Group that meets every month in downtown Brooklyn. For more information visit her website: www.bravolifecoaching.com or email Kathy at kathy@bravolifecoaching.com






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