A borderline-hoarder's guide to finding stuff

I often say that the only thing between me and lose-your-house-level clutter is my husband. It’s true. And I know from hoarding. I grew up with two neighbors who were both rocket scientists and hoarders. My mom even eventually bought one of their houses and we cleaned it out together. And my mom’s no slouch in the clutter department either, but even though it can look like a lot of stuff, she always knows where everything is. I have inherited both the propensity to clutter as well as find, and that’s how I can help you today. Almost every Sunday in church, the kids will find a little stack of papers with a novena prayer to St. Anthony, who I’m pretty sure, is the patron saint of lost causes.

Maybe it got into the church bag because it's called Halo?

Maybe it got into the church bag because it's called Halo?

They might be from someone who has lost their Girl Scout forms or math test or the latest version of Halo for X-Box they got at Costco and then never saw again, but probably not. They probably have loved ones with terminal cancer or something, but that’s just as well. The Holy Spirit can help with that (and maybe with Halo – I did find it in the church bag).

But when it comes to papers or toys or keys or bills, I always misplace everything, but I always find it again as needed. Here are my steps:

  1. Look where you think it is. Let’s say it’s car keys. Are they in the car keys drawer? Are they in the pants you wore yesterday? Are they on your dresser?

  2. Look where you think it couldn’t possibly be. A good example for the car keys would be, say IN THE CAR. If you limit your looking to places you think something could be, it’s like prejudging. And we’re not prejudice here, are we?

  3. Retrace your steps. Literally. Clear your mind and imagine yourself the last time you had your keys. Close your eyes and picture driving, putting the car in park and taking the keys out of the ignition. Where did you walk? Walk there. Follow yourself everywhere you went, looking around as you go.

  4. Go back to where you think it is. Look at everything there, this time, don’t look for the thing that is missing. Identify what each thing is you are looking at. This one is especially good for paper items.

  5. Go on a hunch. Sometimes, when you think of the missing thing, a place just pops up in your mind for no reason. Maybe it’s just because you are hungry that the fridge pops in your inner eye. Or maybe you put the keys there as you were unloading groceries.

  6. Pick the place you just looked for the missing thing that was the most messy and go back and organize it completely. You might not find the thing, but you probably need to organize. And you’ll definitely find stuff you’ve been missing.

The wrappers are not edible.

The wrappers are not edible.

Just yesterday, I went to grab the keys to our pickup truck from the key drawer and they weren’t there. I looked again, looked in the truck (it was locked and no visual of the keys), retraced steps (in this case I found out my 10 year old son had used them to get something out of the truck, so I retraced his steps as best I could) and then there was this nagging feeling I had that the keys were in my minivan. No reason, just, when I thought about truck keys, the van popped up in my mind. I looked and didn’t see the keys, but I also noticed the car looked like maybe the kids had been stranded in there and started a Lord of The Flies-era society, only with Z-Bar wrappers, errant Cheesey-Poufs and discarded school work. I decided to totally clean up the car. When I made the front seat go all the way forward so that I could clean underneath it, I found a bag of pistachios, an empty water bottle, approximately 50 Starbucks coffee stirrers (Unused. Someone in our house really does hoard those), an adorable bow mounted on a barrette from grandma. Then I heard a telltale clink, and low and behold, the truck keys were between the seat and the center console of the car!

Do you have other tips to finding lost things? Let us know!

This post originally appeared at The ill-prepared housewife