September 22


4 Keys to Find Your Keys (and other stuff you lose)

By Sue Ingebretson

September 22, 2015

fatigue, fibrofog, fibromyalgia, focus, hydration, keys, lost, memory, missing, Nutrition, pain, searching, Stress

A recent Facebook post of mine on memory issues (i.e., fibrofog) gained a lot of attention. Do you spend a lot of time looking for lost keys, cell phones, glasses, paperwork, wallets, or whatever it is that was just in your hand? Me too! (And, the same goes for everyone in this community.) We’re in this together. That’s why you’ll find the following 4 Keys to Find Your Keys tips super useful. They’re simple … but, oh-so effective.

See if you relate to this.

You print out a bunch of papers to take to your next dentist visit. You paperclip them together and put them in a safe place. You feel sort of smug-ish knowing you’ve (perhaps, for once) got things handled in advance.

The day arrives for your appointment and 20 minutes before you’re to leave, you run to “that place” to grab the papers and go. But, wait. You sort through everything and can’t believe your eyes.

The very thing you’re looking for has vanished into thin air!

You scurry to your other hidey-hole locations; the kitchen counter, desk, bedroom dresser, and other paper catch-all collection spots.

Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

What on earth?

By now you’re sweating and late for your appointment. You rush off not only without the paperwork, but without your insurance card, your water bottle, and your “doctor’s office waiting room book.”


If that’s not a familiar scenario, then you’re in the minority. Or, you’re 12 with a spitfire memory.

For the rest of us, here are some potential reasons why we lose stuff:

  • We’re in a hurry
  • We’re distracted
  • We’re multi-tasking
  • We’re upset/worried
  • We’re dehydrated
  • We’re under-nourished
  • We get interrupted
  • We’re over-tired and in pain
  • We’re over-medicated

Some of the above circumstances can be avoided – others are more difficult. What can we do? I do what comes naturally. I hit the net. In my research for this post, I found entire articles written on the topic of “how to be mindful” so that we don’t do things mindlessly. The theory goes that if we’re always thinking in the present, we’ll actually be aware of what we’re doing every minute of the day.

Entirely unhelpful (IMHO).

I also found articles on how to map out your home so that everything always goes back to one specific place every single time. Sounds great. Not-so practical. And, no … I’m not going to tell you to ask yourself, “If I were my keys, where would I be?”

These tips weren’t terrible practical.

Instead, I’d rather put my

under-used sense of visualization to work.

The next time you lose something, instead of zig-zagging around your house like Billy in a Family Circus cartoon, here’s what I’ve come up with.

4 Keys to Find Your Keys (and other stuff you lose):

  1. Take a deep breath (oxygen enhances clarity)!
  2. Have confidence. Recognize that most misplaced items are recovered very quickly.
  3. Create a VERY clear image in your mind of what the item looks like. Incorporate all of your senses and think of the color, the texture, the smell (if applicable), and even the sound of the item. Repeat the name of that item in your head as you look for it.
  4. Search in a systematic pattern starting in one end of the room and ending at the other. Use the search pattern that makes sense to you.

You may be surprised at how well this works. We often “look past” the very thing we’re searching for because we’re unfocused in our approach. We have “find it blindness.” We make unhelpful assumptions.

And, here’s another tip.

Have you ever “mis-remembered” what your missing item actually looks like? Such as, searching in vain for a blue file folder only to find it days later — and be shocked that it has somehow mysteriously turned a bright yellow? Hmm?

When this happens to me (and, I’m not saying it has), I blame the dog.

If you don’t find the item you’re looking for, and you’ve created a precise, clear mental image, be open to the idea that the missing item’s color or size may vary. Imagine it in different colors or focus on other aspects that are less likely to be mis-remembered.

Have you ever had trouble locating things?

I hope you enjoyed these tips and wish you happy hunting! Do you have tips to share? Please do so below!

  1. When I lose something, I close my eyes and mentally recreate in detail the last time I remember having the object in my hands. That usually leads me to the spot where I put it down!

  2. I blame the cats! I retrace my steps. I tend to prepare in advance but then second guess myself. Sometimes my safe-keeping places go awry. Anyway, great tips and great looking dog.

    1. I think the cats will take the blame quite well. The dog at least will look guilty – the cats, not-so-much 😉 I find that my “safe-keeping” spots can go nutty, too. Half the time when I finally find the thing, I say, “What was I thinking?” Thanks so much for your input!!

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