Learn 7 simple ways to not lose things so you can stay organized.
My contention for years was that I am powerful, I am amazing, and I can change the world – if only I could find my car keys.
I was a loser.
I would constantly lose things: keys, headphones, purse, phone, cash, important papers, and one time, a $900 check. It had slidden down the back of a desk and landed, upright, on a ledge against the wall, like a magic trick. (It was missing for months.)
After being late for lunch with my own daughter because I couldn’t find my car keys, it was time to take bold action. I researched how to stop losing stuff all the time and actually be a grown adult who could find things on the regular.
How to Not Lose Things
And now I share with you my best tips for how to get organized so you won’t lose things.
You knew I was going to tell you to declutter at some point. Having less stuff means that you have less to keep track of, and you won’t lose things in your mess.
I had a friend who owned three sets of keys so she would always be able to find them when she needed them.
The problem was, she could never find any of them. Ever.
So much better to have just one of what you need and not worry about having backups of backups (which, by the way, just cause more clutter).
For years, I was trying to come up with clever new systems to store my stuff so I wouldn’t lose things. I had a little drawer for my keys (so they would be out of sight and not mess up the look of my house) and a shoe rack behind my couch that you actually had to be a troop member of Cirque du Soleil if you wanted to be able to put your shoes away.
I would “stash and dash” my stuff when people were coming over to all my favorite hiding places.
Things were so well hidden that I could never find them again. Two years later I’d be cleaning out a drawer in the coffee table and find the Bed Bath and Beyond gift card that I knew “I put somewhere.”
It’s time to stop living such an exciting life. Routine is the key so you stop losing things once and for all. You must have a place where you put your basic items every single day so they won’t go missing.
Here’s my list:
Keys: In a basket by the front door
Handbag: On the coat closet doorknob
Phone: Charging on my nightstand
Laptop: Charging on my office desk
Journal and pen: Under the coffee table
The beauty of being basic is that you eventually start to get uncomfortable if your stuff is not in the correct place, and that’s a great thing. You want to feel a bit of discomfort at things not being where they should be so you can stop losing things.
You know you’re hitting master-level organization when you pause a TV show and go put your keys away because that’s the only way you can truly relax.
Find the Perfect Containers
I have containers that are THE PLACE to store THE ONE THING.
Let me give you some examples:
- The bookcase in my office: books I’m using for work and studying
- The bookcase in my bedroom: my “fun” books (memoirs, fiction, journals)
- The Rolodex in my bedroom: all of our gift cards
- The desk in my kitchen: mail to be sorted
- A labeled bucket in my laundry area: batteries
- A shoe box on the top shelf of my closet: travel-sized toiletries and packing cubes
- In a drawer by the front door: pet bags
Having a place for everything so that anyone in the family can tell you “That goes THERE” will go a long way to help find things when you need them.
Develop a Long-Term Storage System
Back in the 90’s I attended a seminar on how to keep track of all the things you put in long-term storage. There were binders and tabs and cross referencing.
My head exploded, and I decided that my method would be much more like “throw everything into boxes and pray we never need it again.”
That is, until I found the magic that is Duck Pack and Track Moving and Storage Labeling System.
This is the best thing ever. Seriously. You guys? How have I never had this in my life before?
I fill up a box, put a label on it, scan the label with my phone, and then list the contents.
When I want to find my ski parka, I just type “ski parka” in the search function of the app and it tells me exactly what box it’s in and where that box is.
Magic. (And couldn’t we all use a little more magic in our lives?)
Check out my post Organize me Now! The Ultimate Storage Organization Guide and enter to win the Duck Pack and Track Gift Pack.
Make Your House Like a Giant Kindergarten Room
I believe in labeling absolutely everything.
(OK, I don’t have a label on my label maker that says “Label Maker” but I’d lie if I said I wasn’t tempted.)
1. It helps you find your stuff.
2. It helps other people find their stuff.
When you have more than one person in your house, where people should put stuff away is obvious – to one of those people. (Trust me. As someone with two kids who combined households with someone else who had two kids, well, let’s just say the Battle of Waterloo was more peacefully negotiated than where to keep the Scotch Tape in the Hunter/Lipp household.)
Don’t be afraid to label where everything goes. Think like a kindergarten teacher. She wants the kids to be able to easily put away the books, games, puzzles and puppets at the end of the day.
Even though some of those kids can’t read, there are picture labels so that the kids know where everything goes. That way, it’s not one person (teacher/mom) who has the secret of where everything belongs and is ultimately responsible for putting everything away.
Make Technology Work for You
My Roomba is the best thing that’s happened to me since my husband proposed. I love Rover (our Roomba) more and more each day – and not just because I have lines in my carpet every morning when I wake up. Rover also forces me to pick up our living room each night to make a clear path to do its magic.
This means, the sneakers I kicked off? Go by the front door so I’m ready to walk the dog in the morning. My bag I threw by the front door? Gets put on the doorknob so I can actually find it the next day.
Being on a routine yourself — and having your tech on a routine — help greatly so you don’t forget anything. When I need to pack a lunch for the next day, I tell Alexa to remind me of it in the morning.
Create a Front Door Launch Pad
Having a space by the front door – a table, a chair, a basket – where you put everything you will need the next day – is the best trick I know to get out the door in the morning. I will put my coffee cup (so I don’t forget to fill it up), my computer bag, my purse, my sunglasses, my jacket everything on that table so I don’t forget anything.
The one thing I don’t put there?
My keys. I put those in the fridge.
Hear me out.
If I’m taking breakfast or lunch the next day, I’ll get it ready, and then I’ll put my keys on top of the lunch box. That way, I can’t forget my lunch. (I also do this with guests who are taking leftovers home – I’ll grab their keys and put them in the fridge on top of the leftovers they are taking – works every time.)
At your front door launch pad, you get bonus points if you have a charging station there so you can charge your phone, tablet and laptop overnight.
You can stop being a loser. Set up systems in your home that work for you so you can stop losing things (and your mind), again.
She and her husband Roger are the parents of four young adults in San Jose, CA. When she’s not dating her husband or hanging out with her puggle Jake, Kathi is speaking at retreats, conferences and women’s events across the US.