Core Identities and Metrics

I have been thinking about how our client’s core identities and metrics are important in our professional discussions and understanding of client patterns and types. Knowing what some of the basic client components are, will in turn be useful in seeking solutions or strategies.

Core Identities

Our clients will fit in what I like to call Core Identities.1

Sex, Age, Marital Status, Domicile, Clutter Hoarding Scale, Relevant Life Stages, Medical Status. Pets, Other Interested parties

Here is the “why” of the utilization:

Sex – Communication styles usually vary depending on the preferred sex or gender of the client.

Age – Contact methods may differ depending on technological understanding and preferences. More senior clients may be less able to bend, stretch and lift. They may have visual or hearing concerns. Sensory decline increases clutter.

Marital Status – This helps you to consider legal rights of property items within a dwelling. Does your client have the right to dispose of the spouse’s or domestic partners possessions in the mist of a divorce or separation?

Clutter Hoarding Scale2 – This is useful in discussing environmental situations and concerns.

Domicile – This is best described by utilizing the amount of rooms, square footage, levels of a home, type of household. Example – 2,000 square foot, one story, 3 bed, 2 bath home with fenced back yard with one shed and attached garage. It may help to think about a real estate listing for describing the dwelling. You can also consider which of the Seven Types of Households3you are to be working in.

Relevant Life Stage(s) – The Life Stage Scale4 is a useful tool in determining where a person is in terms of possession acquisition and disposal.

Medical Status – Knowing any current medical or mental health issues affecting the client or client’s household members will be useful in selecting communication and organizing techniques. Note – this is for more experienced professional organizers who have been receiving education and training through the Institute for Challenging Disorganization, ICD.5

Pets – Household pets require “living/sleeping spaces”, food storage and equipment. Understanding this component is part of the project is useful. It also helps to know if the household pet quantity exceeds code local code enforcement requirements.

Other Interested Parties – This might include local code enforcement, a conservator, adult child of an elderly/senior adult residing outside of the dwelling.

Facts about your clients at the onset and through the progression of work will help you develop and utilize the best strategies and techniques

Terry Prince, CPO-CD


The definition of metrics – metrics are a means of measurements, or the result of something obtained by this.6

Sometimes portions of your client’s core identity will change. This change is likely to have some effect on your work process, style and the client’s backsliding. Examples of this are: adding a family member or pet to the home, remodeling to add an extra bedroom or bathroom, an adult could suddenly become under the care of an adult child or move into an assisted living complex. Emerging or changing medical conditions will also affect your work.

I will discuss more on Metrics in a blog post later this year. Be sure to check back for some interesting reading.

Having these facts about your clients at the onset and through the progression of work will help you develop and utilize the best strategies and techniques.

  1. First used in ICD Case Study Discussion February 2010 developed by Terry Prince, CPO-CD
  2. The ICD Clutter Hoarding Scale co-developed by Terry Prince in 2004
  3. Seven Types of Residential Households developed by Terry Prince 2010. See Slide Share Presentation page 4 for more specific information on seven types of households.
  4. Life Stage Scale 2010 by Terry Prince, CPO-CD
  5. The Institute for Challenging Disorganization ICD
  6. Oxford Languages Dictionary on Google” Metrics” definition online retrieved on 3/23/2023
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Backsliding – Why we all need to understand this concept!

The definition of backsliding is to regress to a previous state. Nearly everyone has experienced backsliding in a variety of areas in their lives.

Here are some of the reasons for backsliding at home:

  • Have a new or reoccurring health problem with yourself or a loved one
  • Hold or plan a special event in or around your home
  • Must assist a loved one or friend with an event outside the home (wedding, party, move)
  • Add something “new” to your home, New Pet, New Person, New Furniture.
  • Acquire a New “helpful” tool – Example: Robot vacuum
  • Plan a re-model or redecorate your home, (Paint, Carpet, Flooring) 
  • Get a new job or project that changes your daily or work week schedule
  • Have an in-home maintenance emergency such as a pipe or roof leak, plumbing issue, pest issue
  • Dealing with broken appliances – troubleshooting, getting replaced or repaired

Here are some of the reasons for backsliding at work:

  • Changing office or workspace location
  • New technology or system implementation
  • Having to cross train staff or a new person
  • Taking on the responsibilities of a colleague who is leaving or being promoted
  • A large important project with an impending deadline
  • Out of office travel
  • Too many unplanned or last minute meetings to attend
  • Support staff illnesses or absences causing delays of needed material or information
  • Technology failure or system going offline

The best way to cope with backsliding is to accept the inevitable and plan for reduced progress. Acknowledgment and awareness of backsliding means more understanding of the process in your home and work life and less frustration with yourself and others.

PS If you want to know why a robot vacuum means backsliding, it means all floors need to be cleared of objects it can “suck up”, get stuck on or get lost underneath. Time will be spent searching for the robot who is hiding below something. Usual lost areas include bookcases, dressers, beds, closets. Items that a robot can “suck up” include bed linens, towels, clothing-especially long dresses or robes. Robot vacuums will also get stuck on some floor vents or behind a chair. Don’t get me started about robot vacuums and pets…. However, once a robot vacuum is understood and your home designed to accommodate it, the robot vacumn becomes a great time saving device.

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Maybe – Five is all we Can Handle

When we are overwhelmed, it helps to simplify and concentrate on the most important.

Over the years, I have come up with the idea that Five Projects are all most people can effectively work on at one time. Yes, I know there are some outliers out there, but most  people can be extremely  successful with the total number of five active projects.

One way to look and remember this, is by simply looking at one of your hands. Image each finger is a project.  So maybe you are now looking down and thinking “I need 2 hands and maybe some feet”. If this is the case write all the projects down on a piece of paper. Then cull the list down to the top 5. These are the ones you can put on your “fingers’.

For those overambitious or hard working individuals out there, you can have a home hand and a work hand.

Always remember, however,  that five is the number to use. So when you are overwhelmed, get out the hand, and start naming your fingers with the top projects.  Select one to work or focus on, and just begin.

This is a best of post from 2010

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Get Your Daily Structure Set for 2021

This is a challenging time with lots of changes coming extremely fast. When you are self-isolating you may find all your routines disrupted. So it is time to create new ones. 

Create Daily Structure for You and Your Family

Wake up about the same time each week day, do your personal grooming, get dressed, eat breakfast- set your day in motion. When children are in the household, get them started on “school projects or household tasks”.  Make morning the action time for the household. For those adults working from home, start your work after the kids are activated on their projects, unless you are a time zone warrior and have to work on your work before everyone else gets up. 

Take a break for family lunch with household members contributing to lunch time – preparing the food,  the setting the table, clearing the table., filling the dishwasher.

Go back to school and work activities until your usual end of work day routine is completed. 

Design an end of day routine for your family that includes clean up and set up for the next work or school day.  This structure can help promote productivity for the following day and end that sense of “Ugh, I have to clean up before I get started” issue in the morning.

Make family dinner time a priority and get household member to pitch in setting the table, chopping vegetables and putting out the condiments. This can be done solo style or in family fashion which ever works for your family. A post dinner clean up routine may make dinner time less stressful. For some family – the one who cooks cleans, in others it is  – one to cook, others to clean up.  

Having a pre-bedtime routine for each household member is also helpful to calm the chaos of evening. 

Structure at home can make a great difference in people’s moods and stress levels. Start fine tuning your daily structure in the start of the new year. 



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A New Decade – Time to Reflect!

It’s almost 2021, the start of a new decade. Now is a perfect time to make changes and move forward. Before we jump forward into something new, it usually helps to look back.

Here are some positive focused questions to think about. Think of each of the questions in terms of the last ten years and your experiences.

Decade Reflection Questions

What worked over the last ten years?

What are you most happy about having achieved, managed or maintained?

What were some of the best conversations you had?

What were some of the best books you read?

What were some of the best movies, plays or museum or art exhibits you experienced?

What new things or skills did you learn?

Who did you enjoy meeting, being with and spending time with?

Where were you most environmentally comfortable?

Evaluating the Answers

When we look back we can sometimes glean patterns, or glimmers of thing that excite us. When we know what makes us want to get up and fully enjoy the day we can start shaping our lives to have more of this excitement. By reviewing your Decade Questions you may be able to move forward with a clearer sense of what will work for you and help you thrive in the next decade.

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Organizing Books and Principles

Professional Organizers have been tearing up the social media airwaves with their thoughts on the latest book entree into the organizing world. Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up is the latest star in a long line of New Concept books.  Concept leaders include Stephanie Winston, Julia Morgenstern, Peter Walsh and now Marie Kondo.

Here is a table to help review the New Concept – Home Focused Organizing Books. Be sure to take note of the lower part of the chart which lists the subset of authors who have sold to specific markets and have also done extremely well.

This is a previously published blog post from 2016.

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Math and Clutter – Let’s Do the Math!

Do you know April is Mathematics Awareness Month? This is a good time to do some mathmatical analyzing of your belongings. Here is a clutter math test.

Try this math test* for any object within your home:

1) Start with the positives:

Does the item bring you joy, add 5 points
If the item has sentimental value, add 3 points
If you use the item often, add 2 points                                                                                            If you know you’ll need the item later, add 2 points

Add the total positives:                                                      _______ Positive points

2) Now start subtracting the negatives:

If the item takes up a lot of quality space, subtract 1 point                                                          If the item needs to be fixed, subtract 4 points
If you have more than one of the item, subtract 2 points.
If you often forget you own the item, subtract points.
If a loved one would appreciate the item more than you, subtract 1 point.

Add the total negatives:                                                 ________ Negative points

3) Do the final math. 

Subtract the negative from the postives:              _________Total Points.

If you come up with a total positive number,  by all means plan on keeping the the item. If you reach a negative total or zero, it is time to consider donating, selling or recycling the item.

*Clutter Math quiz Adapted from  Shelf Genie

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Planning is important!

Do you take time out to think about what is most important to you? Do you take life as it comes or do you make life what you want it to be? There may be no right or wrong answers to these two questions, however those who fail to plan, often find their life results less than they desire.

I have found taking “formal planned  time” to focus on what is most important to you is key to creating the life you want.

Taking time out from your day-to-day activities can be tricky and complicated, especially if you lead a busy life. However, if you are a busy person, then taking time out is as easy as making an appointment or two with yourself. A few hours will likely be enough for you to create a clearer understanding of where you want to go.

Individuals who are focused can pre-plan their “future vision session” .  They can do this by creating a list of questions to consider during the session.  This will allow a more focused and directed time.

However, if you are a person who has trouble focusing, working with a life coach for a few sessions might be the key to creating the life you want. The life coach can help you by asking great questions, and then you can find your own answers.

Terry now provides life coaching services. Check out her website for more details.

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The Gentle Art of Death Cleaning – A Review

I finally got hold of the book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson and here is my review.

The book is very gentle in tone and leaves the message that “death cleaning” can be started at any age and the sooner the better. Death cleaning being the sorting and organizing process to cull, reduce, recycle and discard your worldly possessions.

Margareta continually describes herself as between the age of eighty to one hundred. Initially, I  found this very endearing at the onset but rather repetitive towards the end. The author has moved internationally many times and has performed the process of sorting and reducing many times during her life journey.

Her approach is very toned down and “gentle”. This is a good book for professional organizers to recommend to their clients over 50. Margareta looks at death cleaning as an opportunity to spare your relatives and others from difficult decisions and the actual hard work of clearing out your stuff.

Margareta does bring the traditional gender roles attitude towards death cleaning – believing it to be more of a woman’s job than a man. I think we can forgive her for this since she is between eighty and a hundred years of age. However, I think she understands this is changing with the younger generation.

In the latter part of the book, she discusses written communications, photographs and even digital communications. Margareta says “Although our belongings can bring memories to life, it becomes much more difficult with photographs and written words.  She asks “Will anyone I know be happier if I save this?”.  If she answers no, then it goes into the shredder. However, before it gets shredded she takes time to reflect on the even or feeling to know that it has been part of her story and life.

Having just spent several months, working on compiling my father’s memoirs, I have some mixed feelings about waiting to sort photographs and letters. I’d like to suggest we put some time aside, perhaps in the cooler weather months for sorting photographs and letters as a middle age project instead of at the very end of our life or when in the elder years. The volume of letters and photographs are still extensive in the pre-digital age. There is an abundance of treasures for family history or genealogy waiting to be gleaned.   Waiting too long means the potential loss of valuable information.

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning is the book to help you get motivated to start your cleaning and help save your loved ones their own precious time to take care of stuff you do not want anymore.

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Baby House Syndrome

Are your parent’s selling your childhood home?

Do you think about the house of your childhood you can no longer visit?

Are you sad and depressed, that you have been forced by your parent’s recent move to leave the “old neighborhood”?”

You may be suffering Baby House Syndrome. This is when your loved ones sell the house you identified as your childhood home.

This syndrome can hit you at any time,  between the age’s of 9 to your late 70’s. It is a big change in your “home” identity and where you believe your childhood memories are stored.


  • Extreme sadness after hearing your parents are moving
  • Anger towards the changes your parents are making in their lives
  • The real estate listing or sign brings you to tears
  • You no longer feel you have a “real home”
  • The guest room in your parent’s new home seems to have no traces of you
  • Candidates – 10 to 80 years of age.

Strategies to help you process through this time

  • Accept that the change is going to be difficult for you
  • Have parents or family members take photos of all rooms before the move-out and pack out actually begins.
  • Hold a “farewell to the house” party for family members and close friends (with your parent’s permission of course)
  • Write a letter to the new owners telling them how much you hope they will enjoy the home
  • Take photos of special memories spots – the measurement chart on the inside of the closet door, the swing set in the yard, the tree you planted as a child

Regardless of your age, Baby House Syndrome can cause you to feel a great loss. Using the strategies mentioned above can help you, or your loved ones deal with the transitional process.

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