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“Did I buy that aviator hat, or was I just thinking about it? Did I give it away?” “Have you seen my Twiddler one-handed keyboard?” “Now where did I put those markers…”
Sometimes I find it hard to remember where I’ve put stuff, or even if I bought the stuff in the first place. I think so carefully and so vividly about whether I want to buy some things that I can find it difficult to distinguish between memories of buying and using that thing versus my imagined tests of whether I would use it if I bought it.
It’s useful to know what stuff you have and where. It means not needing to buy things again. It means not wasting time turning the house upside down. It means being able to cut down on clutter instead of letting it invisibly pile up.
I’m no stranger to using external tools to get around the limitations of my brain. Since my Quantified Awesome dashboard includes some support for tracking stuff, I spent 45 minutes adding a bulk-entry interface and making sure it updated my main list.
With my newly-improved stuff tracking system, I spent two hours taking inventory of various things stashed in drawers, tucked away in cabinets, and otherwise placed in forgettable locations. Along the way, I tossed out old business cards, miscellaneous electronics, and other clutter. I consolidated things so that there was one place for all the index card containers I had. I tallied a total of 207 items – not everything in the house, but a good start.
It turns out that I didn’t buy that aviator hat after all, or if I had, I donated it. I found the Twiddler keyboard in basement drawer #4. The markers were in my backpack.
Having answered those questions, I can rest – or at least, until another half-memory sends me searching.