It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?
-Henry David Thoreau
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Misplacing Things?

It happens to all of us – we forget where something is or can’t find that thing we need.  I’m currently even in the middle of one of those times – one of our magazines has a place, I’m sure of it – yet I cannot seem to locate where they are.  It bugs me!  And granted I can be a bit of a perfectionist; it’s more than that though, it’s unsettling to know you have something yet cannot get your hands on it.  Although on some level losing things is inevitable, it’s worthwhile to work at minimizing that.  Therefore let’s look at some of the causes of losing things as well as steps to take in order to limit how much we misplace.

  • We don’t put things away when we’re done with them.
    • Put things back into their home when you are done with them.  How’s that for an obvious solution?  Yet, the better we can get about this, the easier our lives can be.
    • This can happen for any number of reasons and sometimes it can even make sense at times.  There are steps for dealing with things we aren’t ready to put away so they won’t get misplaced in the process.  First, is there a place nearby the home that keeps the item more accessible?  For instance you have an item you pulled out of the bathroom medicine cabinet/drawer/cabinet and want to leave on the counter – it might be the reminder of seeing it or making it easier to access.  I have a counter of sorts for in process stuff – everything goes there, waiting to be used and then returned to its home.
    • Also, keep things moving toward their home – I know I don’t always want to run upstairs/downstairs to just put something away – yet I have containers for items that need to go in that direction, so the next time I’m moving that way, I take it along and take the few moments when I get there to put the things away.
    • Does something else need to change?  We had a chronic problem with scissors in our home – they kept disappearing.  When we talked about it, we realized that we really wanted more around – it was too inconvenient and not easy enough – and once we got a couple of more pairs, they each go back to their homes after they’ve been used.
  • We put like things in different places – whether that’s forgetting where we’d put that x thing before, or wanting those x things in multiple areas for ease of use, or changing our minds about where to keep x and not moving the earlier place into the new place.
    • Put x in only one place and do it every time.
    • Early on in getting things organized, focus only on choosing a place and putting the things in that place.  That’s the most important consideration initially and later you can think about other considerations.
    • Also, if you’re early in the organizing process, remember to think in broad categories first – so all “office” supplies get put in one place, or like I talked about recently with papers in Paper Pyramid, all papers to be filed in one place.  You can refine these once you’re further along, though those things will likely be close together at that later point too.
    • There can be times when having more than one place for x thing: cleaning supplies in each bathroom, items you want on each floor of your home, products that are currently open and being used like Ziploc bags, toilet paper, garbage bags, etc. are examples that might have two locations – those that are in use and those that you pull from when needed.  As with almost everything, it’s not completely an absolute – unless you can make it so.

Here I’ve only covered two of the reasons we can misplace things among the many possibilities that exist.  I’ll discuss more in the coming months.  And you will probably begin to see how much overlap there can be among the culprits that lead to our misplacing things.  With these two examples – we might not put things away when we’re done with them because that item could go in more than one place – so it’s easier to simply not put it “away.”  It can help to examine which is your primary struggle with misplacing things and then try different strategies to limit or even eliminate these tendencies.

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