How to Find Lost Objects

Three Methods:Calming DownLooking for the ItemKeeping Objects from Getting Lost

Once again, you've lost your car keys, and you can't find them. It's frustrating, and it can cost you good will at work if you're late. You can find them or something else you lost, though, if you take a moment to calm down and follow these steps.

Method 1
Calming Down

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    Breathe in and out. Take a moment to take a few deep breaths. The breaths will help you calm down and refocus.[1]
    • Sometimes you get too stressed when searching for something, and you need to calm down to help you find the item. Your emotional response will distract you from looking.[2]
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    Empty your brain. As you're breathing deeply, take a moment to clear your head of other thoughts. Stop trying to frantically think about where you left it, and just keep your mind clear.[3]
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    Remember that it's not the end of the world. If you let adrenaline take control, you won't be able to focus. Calm down, and take a step back.
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    Put it in context. What were you doing when you last had the item? Where were you going? Thinking through the context of when you saw it last can help you remember where you put it down.[4]
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    Be confident. Tell yourself you will be able to find what you've lost. By bolstering yourself up, you not only calm yourself down, you also give yourself the energy you need to go find it.[5]

Method 2
Looking for the Item

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    Check where the item should be first every time. That is, if you always put your keys by the door, look by the door first. They may have fallen off the table or be under your purse.[6]
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    Clean up. Sometimes the easiest way to find an object is to start cleaning away the clutter. You'll be better able to see what's there if you move away everything else.[7]
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    Be systematic. If you're certain you've lost an item in a certain room, divide it into sections. Go through each section one by one, checking under furniture and lifting up other items.[8]
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    Check odd places. Sometimes, you may stick something in an odd place without realizing it. For instance, you may stick your coffee cup in the freezer without realizing it, especially if you're half asleep. The item will be where you least expect it.
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    Look thoroughly. Sometimes your eye will dart over an area where you think the item can't be. Take the time to intentionally look around the room to make sure it isn't around.[9]
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    Check your pockets. Don't forget to check the pockets for the item. Look in your coat, your pants, and your purse or briefcase.
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    Check your car. If it's an item you carry with you, make sure to check your car, as well as the house.
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    Retrace your steps. Though you've already thought back, actually retracing your steps can help you remember where the item is or actually find the item. Go through the motions of where you've been since you had the object last.[10]
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    Look in the same place. If you commonly lose an item, look in the place you found it last time, as it may have ended up there again.
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    Call any place you have been. If you can't physically get in the car and drive to them, call the places you've been today. For instance, if you stopped at a convenience store, call and ask them if they found it.[11]
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    Search for your lost item from a different perspective. Try looking for your lost item by standing on a stool, crouching down on the floor, looking down while standing upright, looking up while standing upright, or even lying on the floor. Sometimes your mind finds things easier from a different perspective.

Method 3
Keeping Objects from Getting Lost

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    Say the place you're putting an object in a sentence. For instance, if you're putting your book in a different place than you normally do, name that place out loud: "I'm putting the book on the bathroom counter."[12]
    • Psychologists note that putting it into a full sentence helps you remember.[13]
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    Pinpoint the item you lose most. For instance, maybe you misplace your cellphone all the time. If that's the case, figure out how you lose it and correct the behavior. Maybe you lose it because you forget to put it in your pocket. If that's true, then you should always make a point to return your phone to your pocket.[14]
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    Make certain areas clutter-free. If you're always losing stuff on your desk, for example, decide to keep it as free of clutter as possible, so you can always find what you need.[15]
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    Look behind you every time you exit. As you get off the bus or get out of the taxicab, make it a habit to look behind you. You'll be less likely to leave something behind.[16]
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    Be mindful. You often lose items when you let your mind wander. If you're just going through the motions without really thinking about it, you may put an item somewhere odd and forget about it. Try to be mindful of what you're doing as you go through your day.[17]
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    Figure out the best place to store items. Things should be stored where you use them the most. For instance, have a hook by your door for your keys, since that's where you'll use them the most.[18]
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    Put items in the right place. When you come in the door, put your keys on the hook. When you take your shoes off, place them by the dresser. If you always take the time to put items in the same place, you won't lose them.[19]
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    Put your name on it. Especially with expensive items, write your name, address, and phone number on it. That way, if you lose it somewhere public, you'll have a chance that someone will return it.[20]
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    Make yourself human. That is, put pictures of kids in your wallet. Take pictures of yourself that you keep on your camera, stating who you are and why you'd like your camera back. If you humanize yourself for the person who finds your item, he or she is more likely to return it.[21]


  • Try again later if you can't find it. Sometimes in the heat of the moment, you won't be able to find what you need, but you'll be able to see it almost instantly later. Sometimes if you really can't find it, ask someone else if possible to help out.
  • Don't put it where it's messy!
  • Try to ask other people if they have seen it.
  • After you've found the object you've been looking for and have finished with it, put it in the first place where you looked for it.
  • Look in the last place you remember using or seeing it.
  • If you have kids, bribe them to help you search the house.
  • Tell someone who bought it you or knows you like it. If someone knows you won't feel as guilty, and you'll have another person to help look. If it's something you're deeply attached to, tell your friends and family. It will make you feel better sharing your problems.
  • Ask a friend or family member if they have put it somewhere.
  • If it's night time, relax and try not to worry, just say: "l'll find it tomorrow and sleep now".

Sources and Citations

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Article Info

Categories: Home Organization & Recycling