Workplace Hack: Follow the OHIO Principle

Have you ever had a task that just keeps finding it’s way back onto your to do list? Maybe you’ve been thinking about it for a while but you never get around to it. Or perhaps you’re starting lots of tasks but never finishing any? It might be time to try the OHIO (or Only Handle It Once) Principle.

Bob Pozen, author of Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours, applies the OHIO Principle to his email inbox…

“When you read an email, decide whether or not to reply to it, and, if you need to reply, do so right then and there. I have found that about 80% of all emails, whether internal or external, do not require a response.”

We’ve covered the OHIO Principle as a solution to your inbox nightmares before, but could it be the answer to your to do list chaos as well?

To follow this workplace hack, try to complete tasks immediately. Every time you go to add something to your to do list think “can I complete this right here and now?” If you can, you won’t even need to add these tasks to your to do list.

Of course, it’s not always possible to get something done right away and you will probably still need to keep a to do list. In order to “Only Handle It Once”, you will need to complete each task in one sitting, not leaving anything half done. If you find yourself running out of time halfway through a task, you probably didn’t break it down enough in the first place.

Have you tried the OHIO Principle? Tell us about it in the comments below.


This hack is part of a series of weekly workplace hacks that teaches you about collaboration, productivity and time saving tips. Published every Wednesday.

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