Where did I put that…

Americans spend on average 55 minutes a day looking for things they can’t find. These items include but aren’t limited to: car keys, paper files, gift cards, coupons, invitations and believe it or not – cash and checks!
Are you one of these people who are invariably looking for something? Or maybe it’s your spouse or kids who are constantly losing things and asking you where they are.

Here’s a simple organizing exercise you can do with your family in just a few minutes. It’s based on one of my absolutes from my first book, Absolutely Organized – A Mom’s Guide to a No Stress Schedule and a Clutter-Free Home. The rule is “Put it where you use it.”

  1. Identify those items you or your family are always looking for. If there’s a lot you may need to write them down.
  2. Decide where is it that you need this item. If it’s something the whole family needs, like batteries, you may need to compromise on the best place to keep them. First pick the room, then the container where it will be kept.
  3. Go put the items where you decided right now. Use what you have first (like bins, shelves or folders) Shop later for something better.
  4. Make the whole family responsible for putting things back where they belong. Make it fun by giving stickers for each time the kids find something out of place & return it to it’s home. Or make this part of your straightening up routine – whether that’s daily or weekly is up to you & your family.

Sometimes just getting all of one category in one place makes it easier to find what you need. Shoes & sports equipment are two categories that come to mind.

The motivation to do this: saving 55 mins a day, about 7 hours a week, 28 hours a month. That’s like adding one day to each month!

Here are some common items that people lose and suggestions on where to keep them:

■keys – bowl or hook in the front entrance of your home
■batteries – in a drawer of a hall table
■school forms – in a wall bin in the kitchen labeled per child
■coupons for retail stores – in an envelope in your car
■gift cards – top drawer of your desk
■birth certificates, Social Security cards – locked fireproof box
■Insurance policies – in a hanging file labeled appropriately
■invitations – pocket of your daily planner
What’s something that you’re always misplacing?


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