Working on not misplacing things

I misplace things when I get distracted. I absentmindedly tuck things into bag pockets or place them on the nearest horizontal surface. I lose time looking for things, and my stress level goes up too. It’s usually my iPod Touch that gets forgotten when I need free hands, and I can’t ring it to find it. (I could barrage it with mail or calendar events, I suppose). At least I know that it’s at home. I’ve gotten better at looking behind me before I leave a place, and haven’t lost things outside the house in a while. Misplacing things remains my bane.

The best way to solve this is to have a place for everything, and everything in its place. I’m working on that. I’m getting better at hanging my work badge and my keys near the door, keeping my bicycle lock in my bag, and putting key items (emergency kit, wallet, notebook, pen, iPod, and phone) into a home-made purse organizer. Most of the time, that works. Sometimes, I forget and I put the iPod down somewhere. I’m getting better at retracing my steps, but that only takes me so far.

So here’s where I think my system failed this morning:

  1. I hadn’t taken care of packing everything when I was alert and awake the night before. As a result, I forgot to keep track of the iPod when I was shuffling various gadgets around and shining my shoes in my half-zombie state.
  2. I needed free hands, and I didn’t have a roomy pocket to put the iPod into. I refer to the iPod a lot around the house (tracking how I spend my time, looking up websites, checking my task list), but I occasionally need two free hands, so I end up putting things down. Most of the time, I slow down and fix the location in my head, repeating it while I do the other task. When I’m sleepy or distracted, I sometimes forget to pay attention to that.
  3. I tend to tuck things into bag pockets. I distinctly remember tucking my phone into a bag pocket (and finding it again), but I wasn’t sure if I’d tucked the iPod into a hidden compartment of my bag. (I’d misplaced my wireless mouse for a week or two that way.)

How can I work on getting better at keeping track of small things like my iPod?

  1. I can simplify my morning routine even further. Ten minutes of preparation the night before is more valuable than ten minutes of zombie time in the morning.
  2. I can try using a belt bag or half-apron at home, to corral things like that. This is also good for carrying things from room to room, when tidying up. Project time!
  3. I can make sure I have a place for everything that commonly gets moved between bags, which means sticking to the purse organizer.
  4. Maybe visually and verbally fixing the locations (repeating to myself, “I’m putting the iPod down on the kitchen table”?) will let me use other forms of memory, too. That might sound weird, though. ;)
  5. I can also slow down and pay more attention to each moment when I’m at the most risk of being absent-minded, such as early in the morning. It really wouldn’t have taken me a lot of time to walk to the One Place I should put something down on, and it would’ve saved me all that searching. This is probably the best way to do it, and it’s good for practising being present.

I’m sure I’ll find it later, and it’ll be a good excuse to tidy up.

Working on doing things better, one day at a time…

  • Rick Innis

    What app(s) are you using for time tracking on the iPod?

    I find mindfulness and taking that time to put things in The One Place are helpful. Sometimes I mindlessly put things in The One Place. Then I wonder where they are, but at least I find them quickly!

  • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

    I’d been trying Daily Tracker Lite for tracking my bike distances, and I was pleasantly surprised that it had could easily insert timestamps into notes as well. At $3.99, it’s the same price as most goal tracking systems on the iPod, and I may pick it up after trying out other systems.

    It’s not a formal time-tracking system. I’m more interested in doing a time audit and seeing a log of my day (like the way I track my expenses) than in just looking at category totals, so many of the time-tracking apps on the iPod aren’t a good fit for what I want to do. Do you have any recommendations?

    And yes, having The One Place – or even maybe a Few Well-Defined Places – is great when mindless habit takes over.