Tools and tricks for keeping track of everything from toys to keys to just-washed socks.
- Choose a wallet in a vivid color, so it stands out inside your dark purse. Keep it in a zippered pocket, and always return it there.
- Try not to change bags too often. "Transferring between purses creates more opportunities for losing stuff," says Lisa Zaslow, owner of Gotham Organizers, in New York City.
- Use Velcro to attach the remote to the side of the TV when it's not in use.
- Use an electronic finder system.
- If you primarily wear your sunglasses for driving, "leave them in the car," says James O'Connor, president of Clutter Control, a home-organization service in Lake Forest, Illinois. "Or designate a place for them near the front or back door. Don't bring them any further into your home, where they may be misplaced."
- Designate a fabric-lined tray for your reading glasses next to your chair or nightstand. Don't set them down anywhere else.
- Use an eyeglass chain to keep your specs securely on your neck ($18 and up, snootyjewelry.com).
- Get eyeglass cases in bright colors to make locating them easier.
- Keep all your credit cards in the same wallet.
- When making a purchase, keep your card in view at all times, and ask for it back as soon as the cashier has completed the transaction.
- Photocopy your cards, front and back, making sure the customer-service phone numbers are legible. Put the copies in your filing cabinet under C. If you need to cancel a card, you'll have all the necessary numbers ready.
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- Always store your phone in the same pocket of your purse.
- Keep your phone in a case and "use the clip on the case to attach it to the pocket," says Nokia's Keith Nowak. "If the purse tips over, the phone won't go flying out."
- Always keep your charger plugged into the same outlet, preferably one in plain view.
- Create one convenient spot for all of them, ideally a separate basket alongside your other mail, and keep all your bill-paying needs―checkbook, calculator, stamps, return-address labels―nearby.
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- Always put keys in the exact same place: Hang them on a hook on your doorjamb (be sure it's out of reach of kids or pets), or place them in a basket near the door. "Being organized is really not rocket science," says Barry Izsak, president of the National Association of Professional Organizers. "It's about doing something in a systematic way and sticking to it."
- Make not one but two backup sets of your keys, says real estate broker Tom Polley of the Corcoran Group, in Brooklyn, whose job requires handling dozens of sets of keys at a time. "Keep one set in your desk drawer," he says, "and give a set to a friend who lives nearby."
- The Wireless Key Finder ($50, brookstone.com) comes with two color-coded key rings, two slim receivers you can stick to a TV remote or cell phone, and a wireless transmitter. Press the button on the transmitter that corresponds to the missing object and follow the alarm to its hiding place.
- The Sound Activated Key Finder with Microlight (shown at right in the pictured tray; $24, gadgetbargains.com) attaches to your keys; it beeps and flashes when you clap, whistle, or shout.
- Instead of attaching your phone number or address to your key ring―a bad idea, for obvious reasons―try Codetag (individual labels, $3 to $10; variety packs, $12 to $60: codetag.com). This service provides labels or metal tags bearing an anonymous code number and the company's toll-free number or e-mail address. Anyone who finds your keys―or cell phone, PDA, or camera―can contact the company with the anonymous code, and the operator will then contact you with the finder's name and number (service included in the price of the tags).
Gloves and Hats
- Purchase an Over-Door Shoe Organizer for your closet, and designate a few pockets for hats, scarves, and gloves. For a no-cost alternative, put a clear plastic bag on a hanger for your head and hand accessories.
- When you take winter wear off while you're out and about, stuff it securely in the interior pockets of your jacket, says Ashley Miller, who has seen more than her share of missing mittens on the job at the Rockefeller Center ice-skating rink, in New York City.
- Tote your garden tools in a caddy and keep them there when not in use. Individual tools are easier to overlook under the daisies. To improvise a less expensive version, Arlene Kestner, president of the Herb Society of America, suggests using a plastic cleaning-supply container with wells on each side. Keep frequently used household tools (hammer, screwdrivers, wrenches) in a toolbox or mounted on pegboard, and put them back as soon as you're finished with your task.
- Avoid buying garden equipment in any shade of green. It's too easy to lose amid the foliage.
- Kestner suggests painting garden tools with fluorescent orange spray paint. Or wrap tool handles with Super Bright Reflective Tape―they'll be easier to spot in a dark basement or garage.
- "My mother attaches two-foot-long fluorescent orange-and-yellow plastic ribbons to each tool," says organizer Lisa Zaslow. Not only does this increase their visibility but "you can make a loop in the end of the ribbon to hang the tools on hooks or nails in your garage," says Zaslow.
- When doing the laundry, put all the socks into a lingerie bag to keep them neatly contained.
- You could also try Sock Locks (packs start at $3.50, sock-locks.com), plastic disks that firmly grip the tops or toes of a pair of socks.
- Keep a bag in your drawer for single-tons, so if a missing sock resurfaces, you know right where to find its mate.
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