Forget Me Not: 4 Rules for Keeping Track of Your Stuff

How do you stay organized with your busy schedule?How do you stay organized with your busy schedule?I was reading about various organizational systems that people use to keep essential items straight and realized that I have a few of my own going on, mostly created by necessity due to my own forgetfulness.

Here are 4 rules for keeping track of your stuff:

Lost Item #1: Keys
Rule: Don't touch the handle of your house or car without making sure your keys are in the other hand

I have been losing keys since I was a kid. I swear keys seem to try their hardest to get well away from me. My poor parents had to change the locks on the house a number of times due to a set of keys that I had dropped on the sidewalk or maybe at the mall, or the library, or the park. Very often they would come home from work on a weekday to find me sitting on the front stoop still in my school uniform. I'd been sitting there for hours because I'd once again lost my keys and couldn't get inside. Eventually they began leaving a set of spare house keys with a neighbor, but I often avoided going over there because I was ashamed.

In college I excelled at locking myself out of my car. In retrospect once this started happening I should have up and changed universities to one in a city where a vehicle wasn't a requirement, I would have saved about five hours of study time every week. The employees at AAA were my heroes! After college, I all too often found myself in the parking lot of a coffee shop in the early morning on my way to work, coffee in hand but keys firmly locked inside of the car.

Related: 20 things you can live without to reduce clutter

When my husband and I first started dating, I managed to lock myself out of my apartment while doing laundry. It was December in Ohio, and there was snow on the ground. I was wearing rubber boots, had sack full of dirty but thankfully dry laundry, and some quarters. I phoned Scott (remember pay phones?) but got the whine that meant he was using his modem (remember modems?). So I layered on some sweatshirts and walked the 10 blocks to his place. I might have used socks as mittens. Happily he heard my knocking and let me in and made me cocoa. To this day, that's the tastiest cocoa I've ever had.

At some point I declared a Rule That May Not Be Broken: that I wouldn't so much as touch the handle to the door of a house or a car without having the keys held in my other hand. And it's worked, I have not been locked out of anything for years. I have freaked out a few times thinking that I'd just locked myself out of my car but, knock on rubber, have always managed to find my keys in the pocket of a coat I was wearing at the time. But not before frantically peering through the windows at the front seats thinking I'd see them locked inside, mocking me.

Lost Item #2: Keys
Rule: Check to make sure you're wearing your wedding ring/favorite necklace before leaving the house

I also have a long history of losing jewelry. I don't wear it when I'm home, and I've found that a corkboard jewelry storage setup helps me keep track. I use t-pins and only have one pin for every ring, necklace or set of earrings. I see it when I come home, and it reminds me to put things back before I lose a ring in the kitchen sink when I drop it while getting ready to do dishes, or put down a set of earrings in some random spot to never be seen again. Because I've developed this habit when something does go missing I usually don't have to think too far back to remember when I was last wearing it. I can also glance at it to be reassured it's all in place.

I've also picked up the habit of always checking to be sure I'm wearing my wedding ring as I'm exiting the door of our house. Just a quick touch with my thumb. I'm not terribly focused on making sure the world knows I'm married, but if I leave my ring at home I will cycle through the sudden discovery and panic that my ring isn't on my finger.

Lost Item #3: Credit Cards
Rule: Buy a long wallet and keep one card in each pocket -- this way you'll know immediately if one is missing

After finding that being able to see all my jewelry in place at a glance I did the same for my wallet. I bought a long wallet and put one card in each pocket. I do my best to replace a card right after I've used it but there is always the run-in with the parking meter on a sketchy sidewalk or the hurried grocery checkout that leaves me chucking my card into my bag to be found later. When I'm reassembling myself at home, I check the wallet, and if any card is missing from its spot I can find it before too many days have gone by and I cannot remember where it might be.

Lost Item #4: Grocery List
Rule: Have a special space on your refrigerator exclusively for your shopping list

We've tried a few different ways to keep a list of household needs, but the only one that has stuck is the good-old paper list on the fridge. If my fingers are covered in butter, I'm far more likely to get a pen messy than my iPhone or laptop keyboard. If I wait until I've left the kitchen, I've usually completely forgotten what it was I needed. (More parchment paper, it's always more parchment paper.)

Do you have any little ways of keeping things straight around your house?

- By Megan Reardon
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