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In my last post, I reviewed some essential definitions and concepts for professional organizers. Now let’s get clear about the rest of the terms and abbreviations you will encounter most often. Here’s a glossary to help you decipher some of the words, acronyms, and ideas that pop up for professional organizers.

BOGO: “buy one, get one,” a two-for-one offer that can sometimes encourage a client to over-buy something they need or want.

GWP: “gift with purchase,” a marketing practice of giving something desirable (say, a makeup bag) with a purchase (for example, makeup). Some clients find these offers irresistible and end up with an excess of things they don’t have space for or can’t use.

CPO®: Certified Professional Organizer, someone who has completed the requirements set forth by the Board of Certification for Professional Organizers, by gaining the required number of hours of experience, passing a written test, and meeting annual requirements for continuing education.

CPO-CD®: Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization, someone who has completed the Level III or higher requirements set forth by the Institute for Challenging Disorganization. The requirements include extensive training and a mentorship program.

Ergonomics: the study of how the human body interacts with its tools to minimize stresses such as back strain or carpal tunnel syndrome. Organizers pay attention to ergonomics to help clients use their tools (desk chairs, computer monitors, and storage spaces, for example) more easily and safely.

GTD: an organizing and productivity methodology based on the book Getting Things Done by David Allen. GTD stresses keeping one’s mind clear by getting all tasks and responsibilities on paper, then prioritizing them for maximum productivity.

Hacks: an informal term meaning to find a shortcut or an easier way of doing something. Here at Metropolitan Organizing, we’re all about managing modern life with style and ease. We love hacks! (For new organizers, I have developed a set of New Organizer Essentials, business forms and checklists that provide lots of shortcuts to building your successful business. It’s affordable. It’s comprehensive. Consider it a great hack for starting your business with professionalism and ease.)

ICD: Institute for Challenging Disorganization, an education and research organization that oversees the awarding of the CPO-CD® designation. ICD is also an excellent source of information and training for organizers who want to serve clients with specific organizing challenges including chronic disorganization and hoarding disorder.

Efficiency: the ability to do something without avoidable waste. For professional organizers, this usually refers to helping clients do something without wasting time or energy.

Kinesthetic sympathy: the state of having an attachment to an object when it is in hand that one does not have when it is out of sight. Organizers will see this when a client suddenly “loves” something they are holding that a moment ago they didn’t remember they owned and an inability to let go of something once they have touched it.

Minimalism: A lifestyle that helps people question what adds value to their lives, usually focused on the practice of keeping possessions to a minimum. Minimalism may be connected to living with less in order to live a life of simplicity and focus on gaining freedom from worry or obligation. Not all minimalists look the same. Minimalism for a single person may look very different for a person with several children, for example.

Pareto Principle: Named for Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who first observed its action, it is sometimes called the “80/20 Principle.” It expresses the idea that 80 percent of our results come from 20 percent of our efforts.

Pomodoro Technique: A productivity practice to help get work done, especially useful for computer-based tasks. The Pomodoro Technique, devised by Francesco Cirillo, was named for the tomato-shaped kitchen timer. (Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato.) It provides a method of pacing out 25-minute work sessions with five-minute breaks.

Perfectionism: In informal use, perfectionism is a belief that a person or thing can and should be perfect. In psychology, perfectionism refers to a personality trait characterized by striving for perfection. When it leads to unrealistic expectations or demands for performance, perfectionism can make it difficult to start or finish projects, leading to procrastination.

Prioritizing: Determining the order for dealing with a series of tasks by making decisions about which tasks are more important. Prioritizing answers the question, “what should come first?” Good prioritizing leads to doing the most important things first.

Procrastination: The act of delaying or postponing something that should receive immediate attention. Procrastination is one of the common causes of lateness, but it is not the only one.

Productivity: Using inputs in a way that maximizes the value of the output. In organizing, productivity means using time and energy to accomplish the most valuable tasks first.

Project Management: According to the Project Management Institute, project management refers to the application of knowledge, skill, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements. Projects are temporary endeavors that create a new product, service, or result. So washing dishes and hanging up clothes are not projects; they are presumably done every day. But packing and unpacking for a move is a project, and project management skills can help it go smoothly, on time, and within budget. For professional organizers, some often-seen projects include helping clients move homes or offices, and cleaning out and reorganizing a space such as a garage or closet.

Time Management, Task Management, and Energy Management: Traditionally, productivity was looked at as time management, or getting the most done in the limited time available. The focus in time management is on the limited nature of time. Task management takes a slightly different approach by looking at ways to complete the maximum number of high-value tasks, considering where a task is done (on the computer vs. in the hardware store) and emphasizes breaking projects down into component tasks, making tasks small and easy to execute, and so on. Recently some writing on productivity has focused on energy management, counseling readers to recognize that energy is limited and to focus on doing the most important things early, knowing how to make the best use various times of the day, and so on. (One example of this approach is the book The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz.) Most organizers use all these approaches to help clients get the most important things done and achieve optimum productivity.

Two-Minute Rule: This is a principle of good productivity that says that if a task can be done in two minutes or less, do it immediately rather than writing it on a task list. This rule was described in David Allen’s book Getting Things Done.

Vital Documents: There are a few documents that generally travel with someone throughout their life because they are key for establishing a person’s identity and protecting their assets. We refer to these as vital records or vital documents. (Vital here means necessary to life.) They include birth, marriage, adoption, divorce, and death records; Social Security cards; education transcripts; military records; and immigration and naturalization records. These types of documents are almost never discarded. There are several other documents that can be included among vital records, such as passports; titles and deeds to real property; wills; trusts; powers of attorney; insurance policies; and so forth. Copies of vital documents should be kept in more than one location in case of emergency.

Zoning: One basic principle of organizing is to store like with like. Another is to keep items near where they will be used. Zoning is the practice of creating zones for different types of items, ideally in one place near the point of use. So in the kitchen, all baking supplies may be stored together in one cupboard designated as the “baking zone,” with serving dishes in another place, the “entertaining zone.” In the garage, lawn care tools are kept together, car repair supplies in another. In the bathroom or dressing room, make-up is kept together in one place near a well-lighted mirror. In the office, the things used daily may be kept on the desk or in close-by drawers while documents used seldom (think of past years’ tax returns) may be stored further away. The zones an organizer creates will be unique to each client. Once created, zones may change over time as the client’s hobbies, age, work patterns, and activities change.

Build your business vocabulary. Learn the words, abbreviations, and acronyms that professional organizers, productivity consultants, and industry insiders use.

Do you still have questions about how to make your organizing business a success that serves your clients brilliantly while fully supporting you, too? Contact me for 1+1 professional organizer coaching.

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