We’ve all been there. You’re just about to leave the house, you put your shoes on and reach for the door handle when you realize that you’re missing your keys. You start searching the most obvious places first: your pockets, your bag and the few spots around the house where you usually keep them. Nada! Your keys might as well have left the face of the Earth because you can’t see a single trace of them anywhere.
Scientists have long studied memory and how it’s stored in our brains. Many factors influence our memory, like our age, our interest and familiarity with the topic and how complex the matter at hand is. Still, remembering where you’ve put your keys shouldn’t be that hard, right?
Yet, this keeps happening more often than we think. On average, people misplace about nine items a day and spend over 15 minutes searching for them (keys being one of the most commonly lost items). That can easily turn into a mountain of wasted time just searching for lost things. In psychology, interference theory offers some explanation as to why this might be happening. Memories are transient and change as time passes. If we have two or three similar memories that are close to each other, they can interfere with one another and our memory of what has happened can be impaired. In the case of your keys, if you don’t have a designated spot in the house for storing them, you can keep going between the different places you think you last saw them without any certainty that you’re right.
Luckily, there are things you can do to make this happen less often or to stop it from happening altogether. Implement them right and you’ll never have to worry about losing your keys again.
Six easy steps you can take to find your lost keys
Choose a dedicated spot
It might sound like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised how many people either don’t have one or don’t use the one they have. This is, by far, the biggest cause for losing keys and spending countless hours searching for them. That not only causes frustration, but it can also lead to a disruption to your work and private life if you’re often late at the office or for meeting with friends. So, take a moment and decide what’s the best spot in the house where you’ll be storing your keys from now on. Make sure the place is easily accessible so that you have the incentive to use it and that you can easily grab the keys if you’re in a rush. A small container on your shoe cabinet or a “key slot” on your coat rack can be an ideal place for this.
Use a keychain to group them
Now that you have a dedicated place for your keys, make sure you group them together so that you don’t have to handle each one individually. Storing your keys on a keychain will not only make them more visible and, therefore, easier to find, but you’d also be less likely to lose them as they’ll make more noise if they accidentally fall off your possession. A keychain is great as you can also attach the keys to the inside of your bag so that you’re confident they are safely stored at all times while you go about your day.
While having all your keys in the same place is convenient, it’s also a recipe for disaster if you don’t have a backup plan. Always make at least one more copy of your keys in case you lose the originals. A hidden place in your car is a great spot for storing your extra copies as it can help you avoid getting locked out of your house (just make sure you don’t have your street and house number on them in case someone else gets a hold of them). You can store another copy in your suitcase if you happen to travel frequently or use an empty shelf in your wardrobe where you know you can always find them.
Use memory techniques
There are many different mental tricks you can employ to improve your memory, but a very well-known one is called the memory palace. With this technique you create a mental image of a physical space, say your home, and try to associate things you want to remember with different parts of this imaginary place. This is a very useful technique if you are trying to remember patterns or a list of things, but you can also use it to recall where you’ve put your keys. So, take a moment and visualize your home. The more details you can add to it the more impactful and successful the exercise would be.
Think of where you would like to store your keys – say the shoe cabinet in the hallway. Imagine a human-sized pair of keys “walking in” the front door and taking a seat on the shoe cabinet. The more surreal the vision, the more memorable it will be. Try this a few times. This should help make it easier for you to always use the designated spot for storing your keys and, hopefully, make it easier to find them later on.
Backtrack your steps
You know how you sometimes go into the kitchen and you forget why you went there? Then you backtrack your steps to the dining room where you first got the idea to go into the kitchen and there you see your plate and knife and realize you are missing a fork? That’s the power of mental cues. In the case of your lost keys, you can try going back through the steps you took until the last time you remember having your keys. Try thinking of the order in which things happened. Perhaps you came through the door and realized you’ve left the hob in the kitchen and you hurried to turn it off. Then your phone rang and your colleague asked you to open your laptop and send them that last presentation you’d been working on. Then you quickly jumped in the shower before you got ready for dinner. All these actions can offer a cue as to where your keys might be. Make sure you actually go through the different rooms as you try to remember because something in the environment might give you a clue as to where you might have left your keys.
Use the help of technology
All these steps are great when it comes to storing and finding your keys, however, they all require mental effort from you for them to work. With the fast-paced, busy lives we lead this can be yet another step on our long to-do list every day. Luckily, today we can use the help of technology to help us streamline our lives, so that we can apply our mental energy on other things that are more important to us. Spotypal, for instance, is a bluetooth device that can help you find your most commonly used items with a few clicks of a button. You simply pair your keys with your phone and then attach Spotypal to your keychain. Next time you’re looking for your keys, you can “call” your keys and the device will alert you of their location. Spotypal comes with a free app which is a convenient way to store and manage all your device pairings.
Losing keys is one of the most common, yet most frustrating things in the world. It has happened to all of us and it will probably keep happening as our lives get busier and busier. However, with a little bit of proactiveness on your end, you can remove this problem from your life so that you save your energy for other, more important things that truly matter to you. If you’d like to learn more about Spotypal and how it works, please give us a call and one of our team members can help you get started.