Lost Keys: An Opportunity for Organizing

I couldn’t believe it! I’d stopped to get gas, had pumped the gas and then couldn’t find my keys. I’ve done that before, so I automatically searched the usual places: the car seat, between the seats, the passenger seat, the front pocket of my purse. No keys. I felt a flutter of panic that was quickly followed by the reprimand of a critical inner voice that was saying, “How could you lose your keys in such a small area!” Since that voice was not very helpful, I quickly switched to a problem-solving voice that instructed, “Just straighten up the inside of your car. The keys will show up when you can see more clearly.”

As I began to create more order inside my car, I had a little chuckle with myself when I thought about my options, one of which was to ask for help. Just imagining myself going into the gas station and telling the cashier that I’d lost my keys while pumping my gas really struck me as funny. It would be even funnier if I told the guy I make my living helping people clear clutter and get organized. I’m supposed to be an expert in not losing things!

When I organized my front seats, I found the remote for my car stereo which had gone missing about a month ago, a quarter, a rock, and a piece of jewelry that had been riding around with me for months on its way to the jeweler to be repaired. Still no keys.

Hmmmm. . . . time to take deep breaths, look in all the same places one more time and as a last resort, I thought back to what I’d been doing when I stopped the car. I’d been talking to my husband on the phone. The phone! Where did I put it? If I found the phone, I’d likely find the keys! Usually I put it in the front pocket of my purse, but I already knew the phone wasn’t there. Ok, if not in the front pocket, where else would I throw the phone without thinking? In the other pockets of the purse! Sure enough, I found the phone and the missing keys. Success!!!

Why do I take time to share this story with you? What are the lessons from this experience? First, I want you to know that I am just as human as you are. I too have moments when I take action unconsciously and misplace things. When I do, I am just as normal as the next person, at first castigating myself for my mistake and then momentarily panicking.

Second, I think losing my keys at the gas pump, when the keys couldn’t have gotten very far, is a hoot! Sometimes you just have to laugh at the absurdity of your situation. That humor helped calm me so I could finally get into the problem-solving mode that eventually led to finding the keys.

And, when I finally did find the keys, I had also located my missing stereo remote and the front seat of my car was neatly organized! When you lose something, it’s always an opportunity to get reorganized. The process of organizing creates clarity, making it possible to find things.

The next time you lose something, silence the critical voice that shouts out first. Have a good laugh. Then go into problem-solving mode and get better organized. By all means, resist the urge to tear your house or car or office apart in your hunt. If you do finally find your lost item, you then will be surrounded by a nightmare of your own making. Instead, laugh, problem-solve and organize! Remember, even professional organizers lose their keys!

One thought on “Lost Keys: An Opportunity for Organizing

  1. Barbara Redd

    Debbie: I have two rules for finding things: 1) Look back at the first place you looked 2) Look where the thing belongs. e.g., often my keys are in my purse, but have slipped into a side pocket. When I first looked, they didn’t seem to be there.

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