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Terri Albert
  Terri Albert

Professional Organizer Terri Albert, BBA '84, Cleans Up and Cashes In

3/16/2010 --

Ross alum helps clients organize and "right-size."

When Terri Albert, BBA '84, was just a kid, her parents gave her a shirt with the words "neat freak" printed on the front. As it turned out, the shirt — and the moniker — fit her to a tee. Today, the Chicago-based entrepreneur runs her own business as a professional organizer.

"I've always helped friends pack, move, unpack, deal with clutter, and straighten up," Albert says. "But I wasn't aware until I left the corporate world that organizing existed as an industry."

As founder of The Chicago Organizer, Albert's clients range from bona fide hoarders to "people living in nice apartments who just need to switch out their summer and winter closets." Her services range from basic organizing and decluttering to helping with relocation and paper management. Albert promises clients she'll have an objective eye and institute organizing strategies they can continue after she's gone.

Prior to launching the business, Albert spent 15 years selling advertising space in a 14-state territory for national consumer magazines and helping to launch Chicago's Divorce magazine. She also spent six years selecting speakers for internal communications, biometrics, and government conferences, and worked for a nonprofit. Today, she's "right-sizing" clients who generally find her on the web ( or by word-of-mouth. She develops further contacts as a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers.

Albert's experience has shown that just about anyone can fall prey to having excess junk. She recommends decluttering on a fairly regular basis before things get overwhelming.

"When people have lived in the same home for a long time without regularly getting rid of stuff, things can get out of control," she says. "Your life gets to be in the way of keeping your place organized, and then it takes a lot more energy to deal with the problem because it's emotionally overwhelming."

With the exploding popularity of home-improvement shows on cable TV, jobs like Albert's are finding an increasingly mainstream customer. "Please don't hesitate to contact me if you live in the Chicago area. Mention U-M Dividend to get a discount on organizing services!"

The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Right-Sizers

1) Ask grown children to remove their personal possessions as soon as possible."Arrange for them to store family memorabilia such as slides and photographs," says Albert.

2) Let your children have some of your special belongings if you don't have enough storage space for them. "You'll enjoy seeing your beautiful pieces staying in the family and being put to good use."

3) Start tackling organizing projects at least a year or two in advance. "If you put it off, you'll feel rushed and stressed and won't enjoy the process."

4) Work on one drawer, one closet, or one project at a time. "Get rid of obvious items first, and then go through everything at least once more. You'll find decision-making easier and less painful the second time around," Albert says.

5) Take pictures or videos of memorabilia. "Get rid of the items and frame the pictures or create a collage," she says. "Or use a camcorder to record your memories and thoughts about your home and those years of your life."

6) Have a party with close friends or family and ask them to take items you no longer have space for. "You'll love knowing your treasures are still around and being used and enjoyed."

7) Hire a professional organizer. "We help you make the tough decisions about what to keep and what not to keep as well as help you get your items to donation and recycling facilities."

—Leah Sipher-Mann

For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat, (734) 936-1015 or 647-1847,