Guest Blogs

Why My Stuff Goes Missing and How I Get It Back

Three steps for avoiding wild goose chases looking for a button, wallet, and keys.

Once upon a time there was a button on my pants. Then I ate something that I was so allergic to that my body swelled up like an orca on a tuna binge. I gained almost 10 pounds. After a few weeks I worked it all off, but I had a new problem. My button had popped off my suit pants while I was doing my Free Willy impersonation. Since I didn’t want to moon anybody, I cinched up my belt nice and tight, but I would have preferred to button my pants instead.

When I found the missing button, I placed it absentmindedly on my kitchen counter. The button disappeared again. This time I found it under the table, so I carefully placed it on the edge of my bookshelf at elbow level while I finished my vacuuming. When my girls arrived to stay with me for two weeks, I went food shopping and kept an eye out for a sewing kit. If I wanted that button back on my pants, I had to be a man and mend it myself. Why, then, were all the sewing kits Barbie pink? (For the record, the Barbie pink was a hit with my girls, so, in a roundabout way, I became the cool dad, if only for a moment.)

I agonized over that for 15 minutes, and came home to load the cupboards and mend my suit pants. The button went missing again.

[Free Guide: Organize Your Life Today!]

This story isn’t about a button, though, but my ADHD disorganization. Not paying attention to what I eat, placing things higgledy-piggledy around the house, I rush around at full speed and don’t stop to think things through. That’s why I have funny catastrophes happening almost every day of my life. You, too? Organized people watch us in bewilderment as we careen around like bumper cars. My button story was an innocuous one, but it wouldn’t have happened to somebody with even half of my organizational dysfunction.

There is a saying that should be an ADHD mantra: A place for everything and everything in its place. Whether it’s pant buttons, wallets, eyeglasses, or important papers, something is always being mislaid. I usually laugh it off, like when I found my black wallet sitting on the black chair in the dark. But I wasted a lot of time looking for it. It should have been in my bureau’s top drawer, or in my pants. That’s a good place for it, too.

Here are some tips to follow to keep everyday items from being mislaid:

1. Don’t place something where it will get covered up. This should be obvious, right? Yah, I don’t follow this one enough either.

2. Don’t be hasty. Ask yourself, “Is this a good location?” You’d be surprised how often I prevent myself from leaving things on top of the trash can. Or maybe you wouldn’t.

3. Train yourself to make a mental note of an object’s location before moving on. This one step saves me time and again.

Preoccupation and haste are your enemies. Slow yourself down to take note of where you put things. It’s like taking a photo of where you parked your car so you can find it later. Life is clutter. Instead of being a victim of your own disorganization, choose better places to stash your stuff. That way you can find it again when you need it.

[“I Lose, Therefore I Am”]