How To Find Lost Stuff: Our Best Step-by-Step Sanity Saving Tips

published Mar 12, 2015
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(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)

You can be someone who is constantly saying “Where are my keys” or you can be the kind of person who only loses something every now and then (but loses it really, really well) — the result is always the same. Time lost, frustration and, if you’re me, a slight panic that slowly grips you as you wonder, “where the heck is my _______?!

First, start with where it should be

You might be compelled to search for something in the last place you remember leaving it. But memory is a fickle and sometimes false thing. Instead, start in the spot that it should be. Have you been trying to keep your purse in the same spot everyday? Are your keys normally in your bag? Look in those spots first, not where you think you saw it last. (How many of us have searched and searched for our keys/wallet only to find them where they were supposed to be all along?)

(Image credit: Elissa Crowe)

Then, go back to where you started

We found this tip on Reddit in this thread from user beenies_baps and found it to be rather handy:

“Here’s a rule I absolutely live by when looking for things: If you can’t find something, go back and look again (harder) in the first place you looked. Obviously this only really applies when looking in hard-to-search places initially (like a messy drawer), but for me it works a lot. I think the thought process is something like “look in the first place, but not that hard because I’m not panicking yet, then look in every other place I can think of with increasing desperation.”

Finally, cover a two foot radius

Rumor has it that when you lose things, you don’t lose them across the house; they’re usually a few inches from where you thought they’d be but you just couldn’t see when the search first began. So don’t just do a lot of spot checks when a search first starts — do a few more thorough area checks of the places your lost object probably is.

(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

And, some preventative measures to help avoid a “next time”…

Keep surfaces clear and uncluttered

You probably knew this was coming. It’s obvious but important advice. The less stuff you have on your surfaces — your coffee table, your kitchen counter and more — the less opportunity to accidentally cover up that thing you need, or that thing you need blend into all your stuff. A set of keys on an empty dining table is a lot easier to spot than a set of keys buried under a week’s worth of mail.

Have very specific homes for the important stuff

Of course, the very best tip for finding your stuff around the house easier? Not losing them in the first place. So have VERY SPECIFIC areas that your stuff lives. Don’t tell yourself the keys belong on the credenza. Tell yourself they go in the tray that lives on the right side of the credenza. Don’t just put your purse on the hooks in the hallway. Always put it on the very left-most hook. That kind of specificity will help cement these homes for objects and hopefully help you develop a habit of putting them there.

→ We found some of these tips (and inspiration for tips) from two places: This article by Gretchen Rubin and from Reddit.

What would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!