How to Remember Where You Put Things

By Temma Ehrenfeld @temmaehrenfeld
September 25, 2015

Here's how to remember where you "lost" something: Assign precise spots for things; have a routine; write things down. 

No keys?

Don’t ransack your house. Instead, think about where your keys ought to be, advises professional magician “Professor Solomon,” author of “How To Find Lost Objects.”  

“There are no lost objects,” he writes, “only unsystematic searchers.” 

Often, things are exactly where they are supposed to be, but somehow slightly hidden. I learned this about myself, but thought it was my own peculiarity. Why was it that even when I remembered to put an object in an appropriate spot I would forget the appropriate spot? Research hasn’t answered this question, but I can tell you you’re not alone. 

It’s also possible that you left your misplaced object where it was when you last used it. Think back to the most recent time you saw the object. It probably hasn’t traveled far. Most things aren’t lost — but misplaced. 

When you search, look thoroughly in each likely area. Don’t circle round and round with half-hearted searches, unless you want to make yourself unhappy. While you’re searching, clean up, or tidy. You’ll feel less frustrated, since you’ll have made better use of the time. 

Did someone else take it? Ask the likely subjects. Just be forewarned that many couples fight over lost stuff and accuse each other of being more forgetful than anyone else on earth. Chances are that neither you nor your partner are especially forgetful — or, put another way, more forgetful than the normal forgetfulness among human beings.  

In a 2012 British survey, sponsored by a home insurance company, 37 percent of the 3,000 adult respondents said they spent an average of 15 minutes a day searching for stuff. Nearly two-thirds said they regularly found lost items months later and had no idea how the items got to the place where they were found. However, most of the times lost items turned up somewhere obvious.

One in 10 women said they’d permanently lost a piece of jewelry. The items most likely to vanish and never reappear were umbrellas. 

Assign precise spots for things. Ask yourself:

  • “How often do I use this item?
  • “Where do I use it the most?”
  • “Is there a better location for this item?”
  • “Are there similar items to store with this item?”

Have a basket or rack by the door for your keys. As soon as you get home, put the keys in their home. Consider investing in organizing systems, such as clear containers with pull-out drawers or divider trays in desk drawers. Underwear stacked in an underwear-size box in a drawer is easier to find than underwear heaped in a drawer. You’ll also feel tidy and in charge every time you put your laundry away.

Assign convenient spots. Keep your glasses on your nightstand if you’ll need them as soon as you wake up or read in bed. 

Perhaps you need a tray in your bedroom for your wallet, phone, and keys. For me, that’s my pocketbook. Double-check that everything is there before you leave the house.

In her book on coping with attention deficit disorder, psychotherapist Stephanie Moulton Sarkis provides tips anyone can use. Ask yourself: What do you lose most often and how? Does it fall out of your bag? Put it in a zippered compartment. Do you consistently forget to put it in its designated spot? Choose another spot. 

Do you often leave things behind in your car, at the office, other people’s houses, or in restaurants? Have a routine before you leave any of these places. Most people do a “hotel room” check; apply the same logic to the places where you typically leave things.  Do you forget where you’ve parked? Write it down.


March 05, 2020

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN