Top 10 Key Searching Strategies
How many times a week do you forget or misplace your keys, your wallet, your phone or even your whole bag? If forgetting is so common and it happens to almost everyone, why haven’t we found a permanent solution yet?
The problem doesn’t seem to be the forgetting itself, it’s what we do to make it happen.
Since our days resemble one another, we do most activities half automatically, and we usually do several at the same time too.
While we multitask, the things we do aren’t always done consciously and later, we have no recollection of what was done.
Ever come home while you’re on the phone, and have no idea where you dropped your keys? Ever park your car in a parking lot and then almost immediately forget where you parked?
10 Key Searching Strategies
(that you can also use for other lost objects)
While you can simply call your lost phone to find it, keys we misplace don’t have a ringer on them, so there’s no way to find them, except to rely on what our brain can remember.
Searching takes time that we usually don’t have and, while it isn’t always successful, it’s almost always stressful. Here’s a few hacks you can try to make your search short and sweet.
1. Calm Down
Stop whatever you are doing and take a few deep breaths. Clear your thoughts and focus on whatever you are looking for instead of letting your emotions distract you. Reconstruct what you were doing when you put the keys down or think about what you were feeling to add some memory-jogging context.
2. Check Your Pockets
Make sure you didn’t unconsciously put your missing keys in another pocket. Make sure to check your jacket, pants, your backpack and any other bag you had on you when your keys disappeared.
3. Retrace Your Steps
Don’t just think about what you were doing, actually go through the motions of retracing your steps, and you could find your keys or at least remember where you put them.
4. The Eureka Zone
Michael Solomon, a self-proclaimed findologist and the author of How To Find Lost Objects notes that some objects are actually in the immediate vicinity of where you left them, but ‘[...] have undergone a displacement—a shift in location that, although minor, has served to render them invisible.’
He claims that most objects are within 18 inches of the original spot, and calls this space the Eureka Zone. All you need to do is determine this zone and then check through it meticulously.
5. Check Messy Spots First
A study from the University of Aberdeen concluded that we prefer to check tidy places because they’re easier for our mind to process, even though chances are the lost object was misplaced in a more cluttered area.
Focus on the cluttered areas instead and use your peripheral vision to check the tidier areas as you go along.
6. A Different Perspective
Don’t stand in the middle of the room, like you usually would, instead change your perspective; crouch or stand on a chair. A change of perspective will force you to concentrate on what you’re seeing and make things easier to spot.
7. Be Systematic
If you’re sure that something was lost in a certain place, check through that entire place, section by section. Make sure to look closely and check under furniture, inside drawers or under heaps of clutter. Remember to clear your head and really concentrate on what you’re doing.
8. Clean Up
If you’re not in a hurry take time and clean up. You’ll probably find what you’re looking for in the process since you’ll be moving away most of the clutter.
9. Give Up
Just temporarily, give up and let the object stay lost. Chances are that as soon as you stop actively looking for it, the answer will pop into your head without even trying.
10. Ask Your Family Or Roommates
You’re not crazy – sometimes things actually do move on their own or rather, with the help of other people living in your home. Ask the people living with you if they saw or moved what you’re looking for and you just might save yourself some searching time.
Bonus: Prevent Losing Your Keys
When we lose and then find something, we usually wow to never do this again and to always leave our things in the same spot from now on, only to make the same mistake the next time around again.
These will take a little conscious effort but try and see if either work for you:
Make yourself put things in the exact same spot every time instead of somewhere approximately in the same area.
Become mindful of your daily activities. Before you leave your home, office or car, take an attentive look around and see if you can spot anything you forgot.