Friday, September 20, 2013

How to Avoid Losing Your Keys, Phone, Etc.

Magnet with picture of two women; words are "I've spent 50% of my life looking for my keys"
Magnet from Mina Lee, found via Lelah Baker-Rabe

Lost or misplaced items are an ongoing problem for many people. How to deal with this problem is a big topic, so I'm beginning a series here today:
  • Strategies to avoid losing your keys, phone, etc.
  • Strategies to find things if they're lost.
  • Gadgets to help you find things.
  • Specialty tools to help with specific items people often lose.
  • Strategies for getting lost items returned.

So, how do you keep from losing things? Here are three of the most common strategies.

1. Assign a home to everything and send things home to live.Julie Bestry

Woman's Day quotes organizer Stacey Platt:
Most of the time we lose things because we don’t put them back where we found them. ... Everything needs a home. You can always find a fork because you always put them back in the same spot.
Stever Robbins (who I found via Linda English) explains it this way:
Create a place for your most important things, like your wallet and keys. Use a test run. Walk into your house carrying your things, and look for a place you’ll be able to put them every single time you get home. Your keys, for instance, could always go just inside the door in that priceless Four Dynasty Chinese Urn you found on eBay.
On Ask Metafilter, Daniel Beck explains his strategy:
Phone in right front pocket or in the charger by the bed, always. Keys in left front pocket or on the hook by the door, always. Wallet in back pocket or on the bedside table, always. No exceptions ever.

Adjust per your sartorial needs, of course; the important part is to stop putting the things down in random places.
And Ceiba says:
Establish a place for everything at all major stopping places. For example, when I had a car, there was only one place in the car that I was allowed to place my iPhone. In the office, the distance-vision glasses go on top of the computer and nowhere else.
And here's a very different example, from Dustin Godsey:
A sign that I'm either getting old or lazy: I always park on the top level of parking ramps now so that I don't have to remember a floor #.

2. When you leave a space, check to make sure you have everything.

Many people recommend pocket checks or pocket pats. Over on Ask Metafilter, Laen says:
When I leave the house, count the number of items I'm putting into my pocket. Usually that number is 3 (cellphone, wallet, phone). Whenever I stand up, I do a quick pocket count to make sure I didn't leave anything behind.
Two lights above the sea says:
I'm a fan of the "pat-down", as well. Keys-phone-wallet. Keys-phone-wallet. It has a nice ring to it. Do it where every you go. About to leave the house. About to leave the car. About to leave the store/restaurant, etc.
I do something similar whenever I leave a client appointment. I make sure I have my wallet and cell phone in my purse, and that I have my water bottle and my jacket. I know to always check for these four things. (My keys rarely leave my purse, so I don't need to check for them.)

3. Make things harder to lose, or leave behind.

Theora55 says:
Some things, like coffee mug or keys, can be a bright distinctive color. Teevee clickers should be blaze orange, for example. I put blaze orange marking tape on some things, and am more easily able to find them.
Gillian Kirby uses a similar strategy:
Phone - encased in bright green rubber case. ... Keys/travelcard - again, both are in bright colours so I'm less likely to put down and forget. ... Wallet - bright colours apply again. 
And David Lebovitz provides a very different example. He tweeted about his fear of leaving things behind:
Is there a word for "the fear of using a hotel safe, because you might leave, forgetting you put things in there"?
And Liz replied:
If you put a shoe in as well you won't forget passport etc. because you'd never leave with just one shoe.

1 comment:

Marcie Lovett said...

The most important advice I give to clients is: Pay attention.

All of the people you quoted have created systems that work for them. The reason they work is that they took a few minutes to pay attention to their environment. Once you start doing the action, it becomes a habit and you don't really have to think about it.

Pay attention for a brief period to create a long-term payoff - not losing stuff - good use of time!