Streamline the Diaper Bag

September 12, 2013

Two things about me: I like to get out the door without too much fuss and I like to travel light. When T was first born, neither of those things felt very doable. But, what started as a Mary Poppins’s-sized infant diaper bag has streamlined down to a small toddler backpack.

Learn how at Brunch With My Baby!


Currently Obsessed with WallCandy Arts

June 3, 2013

Man, kids have a lot of stuff!

June 4, 2012

I have never liked having a lot of “stuff.”  Don’t misunderstand me –  I like plenty of things – things that are useful and/or bring me joy, and things that have a designated place to live.  But things that fall outside of those parameters have always been ripe for the donation bin.

When I started my baby registry, I knew that things were going to have to change.

Over the past 17 months, I’ve had to expand my definitions of usefulness (let’s face it, there are lots of very useful kid products these days), joy (it may not bring me joy, but it brings the biggest smile to my daughter’s face…so, fine, it’s bringing me joy), and designated place to live (these places used to have stricter boundaries…now it’s more of a general corner or  an overflowing basket at the end of the couch).

But when it comes to her clothing, I refuse to compromise my definitions.  Sure, we only have a designated space of 6 dresser drawers, she has grown into and out of at least 5 sizes of clothing to this point, and there’s a stock of gifts where people “sized up” just waiting for wear.  But, I’m happy to report that I have taken control of the clothing, and with a little vigilance, I can keep it that way.

Here’s how:

Step 1:  Empty the contents of the dresser and as you’re doing so, sort it into clothing categories that make sense for you.  Weed out all the items of clothing that no longer fit. With kids, this is obviously an ongoing process – keep an open bin somewhere nearby to quickly toss things that don’t fit as you realize it.  When I try to get a shirt on Tess and it won’t go over her head, it goes directly into that bin.

Step 2:  Go through all those clothes you’ve been storing for “when it will fit.” Pull out the ones that fit now, and add it to those category piles you just set up.
Step 3:  Group the categories into drawers that make sense to you. Here’s what ours look like:
Step 4:  Make sure you know what’s there:
Step 5:  Pack up what doesn’t fit for donation or storage.

Speed Organizing: Surmountable Tasks

May 5, 2011

Does the idea of getting organized leave you feeling overwhelmed?  It’s easy to think of each project as a multi-day affair – and really, who has that kind of time?  Each day you don’t address the issue, the area continues to collect more and more clutter, and the project feels even more insurmountable in your mind.  Here’s a secret – you don’t need days or even hours to take control!  Here are 7 things you can do RIGHT NOW to get organized, enjoy peace-of-mind and prevent clutter from piling up in the future.

Read more at Affluent Magazine!

How to Organize Your Office to Reduce Stress & Increase Productivity

April 7, 2010

The Beauty Bean’s Alexis Wolfer needed help.  Chaos Theory to the rescue!

Read all about our organizing session and solutions at

Day 25: Minor Freak-Out

February 23, 2010

Ok, I admit it.  This morning, I let the stress get the better of me. I stood in the doorway of our bathroom staring at our enormous armoire and wondered:

  1. When will  I pack all of the contents?
  2. How will we get it out the door without breaking it? (there was a necessary incident with a hammer when we moved it in….)
  3. When will we find the time to bring it back to my aunt, who has generously let us use it for the last 5 years?

See! Even organizers can get overwhelmed sometimes.

The important thing to remember is that it will all get done. People who are far less organized than me move every day. Just worry about it box by box….when i’ve emptied it, I can pass the rest of the worries on to RB.

My Calendar is Color Coded

January 5, 2010

January has got me thinking about calendars.  OK – that’s a lie.  I’m pretty much always thinking about calendars. But I figured that January might have YOU thinking about calendars.

It’s is a remarkable tool really — when kept up to date, your calendar tells you what’s happening today and what you’ve got coming up a week, a month, a year from now.  When kept in a central location, it let’s your family know where you’re going to be and when.  It tells you about your responsibilities, but it also tells you the fun stuff that you have to look forward to (to reward you for living up to those responsibilities).

As a person who plans ahead, you can imagine the love I have for the calendar in general. For many years that love manifested itself in the form of a Filofax (though quite a few models made their way into my heart and into my bag). About a year ago, I went digital — and I never looked back. Here’s why:

  • I can color code without the markers. Back in my corporate days, I used to print out a clean calendar each month using Word’s Calendar Wizard feature. Then I took my markers, assigned a color to each project I was working on, and filled in the due dates. It was pretty to look at and made it visually clear which projects should be prioritized on a specific day.  Happily, the folks over at Apple knew a few crazies like me, and let me set up my iCal to have multiple calendars, each assigned a different color.
My Calendar is Color Coded

My Color Coded Calendar

  • It’s easier than ever to remember an occasion. In my paper days, I always had to set aside some time to copy over all of the birthdays & anniversaries into the fresh pages of the new year’s calendar. Now that I’ve gone digital I can set these events up to repeat every year. If it’s a date that’s really important, I can set an alarm (I like to set it a few days in advance — it’s a good reminder to drop the card in the mail). And I have NO excuse not to remember my newly married friends’ anniversaries….I simply go to the entry with the details about their wedding, take out the location details, and edit it to repeat every year.
  • Someone out there has already done a lot of the work for me. Want to know what date Memorial Day will fall on in 2012? How about game days for your favorite sports team? There’s a subscription calendar for that! Whether you use iCal or Outlook, you can subscribe to an internet calendar that will bring that information directly to the digital calendar you use everyday. Apple users can find calendars for download here. Outlooks users click here for more information.

Whether you do it digitally or on paper, keeping a calendar is key. Need help? Contact me at!

Follow me on Twitter for a daily organizing tip!

Ask the Organizer: What To-Do, What To-Do?

September 11, 2009

What’s the best way to manage your to-do lists? I’ve got at least 7 different lists floating around – sometimes the to-do item appears on all 7, and sometimes things fall through the cracks. I had good intentions, but it’s not working.

I absolutely give you credit for the list-making. Getting those to-do items out of your head and onto paper is a great way to feel in control of a project, a shopping trip, a life… Trouble is, with 7 lists out there, you now have to check 7 different places to make sure you covered everything. I strongly believe in having all your to-dos consolidated in one place – whether it’s set up:

  • Digitally – there are some great Apps out there for this purpose (like Remember The Milk), but a running Word doc could also work
  • In a notebook – perhaps with dividers/sections for the areas of your life that require to-do lists, or
  • On the wall – products like IdeaPaint makes it easy to create a whiteboard on just about any surface, and you can create your own sections using electrical tape

The trick is to find a to-do list type that works for  you. Visually, I love the look of a sectioned whiteboard – with one glance I can see everything that’s going on, broken down by category. Trouble is, I also love the physical act of crossing something off my list. Erasing from a whiteboard simply doesn’t give me the same satisfaction. Plus, when an item is erased, it’s gone forever – but when it’s crossed off, you can look back and see what you’ve accomplished. So for me, the answer is a whiteboard/notebook hybrid. Here’s a look at the way I handle my own Chaos Theory to-do list (those blackout shapes are there to protect client identities and other sensitive information):

The Big To-Do

I wanted the look of a whiteboard on paper – but it needed to be able to handle a lot of information. The answer was an 11″x14″ sketchbook that I divide using a ruler and a sharpie. I assign categories to each section (General Chaos Theory, Client Projects, Business Development, NAPO, Blog Brainstorm, and On My Mind), and when I think of something I have to do, I write it into the proper section. New project arises? Adding a section is as simple as drawing a blue line.

So that’s the master list. A great source of information, but overwhelming if I wanted to use it for the day-to-day. That’s where my ONE sticky note comes in:

Friday's to-do list

Each evening, I plan for tomorrow. Using a combination of deadlines and my general whim, I peruse the larger list and decide what I will get done the next day.  That gets listed on the sticky, stuck to the master notebook, and thrown out at the end of each day. Then I make my master list cross-outs for the day (oh the pleasure!), and plan for tomorrow. Something I didn’t get to today? That’s OK, it can move to tomorrow’s sticky. Find myself with extra time? I can peruse the master for a task to fill the hour.

Like the way I set this up? Try it on your own, using the to-do categories of your life. If this isn’t the solution for you, there are plenty of methods out there. If you need help figuring out what’s right for you, don’t hesitate to email!

Happy listing!

Signature small

Got an organizing question of your own? Email and I’ll answer it in an upcoming Ask the Organizer Friday!

Follow me on Twitter for a daily organizing tip!

My Dirty Little Organizing Secret #1

September 9, 2009

There are many preconceived notions about Professional Organizers. Whenever I tell anyone what I do for a living, the follow up questions/comments always run along the lines of “your closets must be insane!” “do you freak out if something’s not in the right spot?” “does everything on your desk line up at a right angle?” As it happens, my closets ARE very well organized, I DO have minor meltdowns when things are out of place, I love right angles, and my desk reflects as much.

But then there are some surprises – or, what I’m labeling My Dirty Little Organizing Secrets. Today’s is this: I could not care less about how I load the dishwasher.

I know there are plenty of people out there who have their set way to do this task — they’ll even go in to their dishwasher and re-arrange the dirty dishes if someone else had loaded it “incorrectly.”

Not me – throw those dishes and glasses in there any way you want, as long as they’ll get clean.

When it comes to putting those clean dishes away, well then I’m back to my “organizing persona.”

Signature small

Follow me on Twitter for a daily organizing tip!

Organizing, an Addiction

July 6, 2009

I am addicted to being organized – I’m so addicted to being organized that I’ve gone so far as to make a career of it. 

My name is Dayna Brandoff, and I’m a Professional Organizer.  (Hi Dayna.)

Organizing has been a lifelong passion for me, really.   I have vivid memories of cleaning out the desk in my childhood bedroom – and doing it pretty often.  (I know…what kind of paperwork could a 7-year-old really accumulate?!)  I kept a detailed inventory of my sleep-away camp trunk  (one copy was taped to the inside of the trunk, a photocopy stayed with my parents…at the end of the summer, we figured out what didn’t come home.)  I delighted in picking out a new student planner for the school year (a good one has calendars in both month and week view – as well as space for lists).  When I got to college I thought the concept of a syllabus was a dream come true (seriously?  I could put all these exams and project due dates in my planner from the get go and know what the semester was going to look like on the work front?  Fan-freakin-tastic!).  One of the most exciting aspects of my engagement – aside from the amazing man I married, of course – was the wedding binder I put together. Man, I loved that thing…

To me, being organized means that I have some semblance of control in times when life seems chaotic.   It means that if you were to ask me where to find any item in my home, I could locate it for you within seconds.  It means that I know what’s on my schedule – in both the short and long term.   And, it means that, because I have these things in order, I don’t have to waste time worrying about them… or, put another way, worrying about what I may have misplaced or the appointment I forgot.

I find it reassuring, even empowering, to know where everything is and when everything is supposed to happen.  Of course, as my mother would say, “we plan and God laughs.”   The unexpected – good or bad – can happen at any moment, and royally F up all my plans.  Even so, being organized helps me feel better equipped to handle the curveball – I’d know what I needed to reschedule or what I needed to replace.  Better yet, someone could easily step in and handle it for me because all the relevant information is in a logical place. 

Look, I know that I am my own very special brand of crazy – but I think it’s a crazy worth spreading around.  That’s why I’ve launched Chaos Theory Blog.  Who couldn’t use a little more control over the ‘controllables’ in their life?

I hope you’ll visit Chaos Theory Blog throughout the week for organizing ideas and information.  Got an organizing question?  Email and I’ll choose a few to answer each Friday!

Til then,

Signature small

Follow me on Twitter for a daily organizing tip: