One thing I almost never fail to lose is my Chapstick. For other people, it’s their keys, sunglasses or wallet that always go missing. And while it sucks to misplace stuff and feel like you’re going crazy, it’s also just something that inevitably happens. Here’s how you can methodically find things again.
Image by illustir.
Obviously, the first thing to do when you’ve discovered an item isn’t where you left it is to stay calm and start by looking for it around where you last saw or used it. This New York Times article quotes Michael Solomon, author of How to Find Lost Objects, who wrote:
Objects are apt to wander. I have found, though, that they tend to travel no more than 46cm from their original location.
Don’t go round in circles. No matter how promising a site — if the object wasn’t there the first time, it won’t be there the second.
Another strategy is to retrace your steps, although the key here is to vividly reimagine what you were doing or feeling, the time of day, or if anyone else was there when you last saw this missing item. Such a process is called context reinstatement and can help you recall a detail you might have missed in your search. If you ask someone about your missing item, avoid leading questions such as, “Do you remember if I placed my Chapstick in my grey sweatpants or in my blue ones?” Keep them open-ended to allow new details to surface.
There are also a few strategies to preempt losing an item (again). If possible, attach the item to something that stands out, perhaps a giant, fuzzy keychain or bright Post-It notes. Alternatively, you just have to dedicate space solely to the item (or items like it). Maybe a hook by the door for your keys, or a bowl on the counter for Chapstick.
How to Find Your Missing Keys and Stop Losing Other Things [The New York Times]