Some people seem unable to go ten minutes without losing something, whether it’s their phone, their keys, their wallet, or just their self-respect. While we can’t help you with the self-respect, we can give you some tips on how to stop losing your stuff.
Develop (And Stick to) a Routine
The simplest way to stop losing your stuff is to always know where it is. This sounds a bit like a truism, but what I mean is that your phone, keys, and wallet should always have a place. Problems start when you’re not sure whether your phone is in your bag, the pocket of your jacket, the jeans you threw in the wash yesterday, or sitting on the table at the bar you were in last night; if you religiously put your stuff in the same place both inside and outside your house, then it’s much much harder to lose.
For me, when I’m out of my house, my iPhone goes in my front left pocket, my wallet and keys go in my front right pocket, and my earbuds go around my neck.
When I’m at home, my phone is either in my hand, my front left pocket, or charging beside my bed or computer; my keys and wallet are by the door; and my earbuds are still around my neck. I (almost) never have to root through my laundry basket to look for my keys.
Develop a routine where, when you go out, you put everything you’re bringing with you in its assigned pocket. When you get home, put them all in their assigned place there. Do the same for your office, your car, and anywhere else you visit frequently. Force yourself to stick to it and you’ll soon stop losing things as often.
Don’t Put Your Things Down
Never ever put your stuff down when you’re out of the house. Don’t put your phone on the machine next to you in the gym, your wallet on the table in a café, or your keys in a friends’ bag. It’s very easy to get distracted and just walk off with out them. Trust me, I’ve done it.
Keep your stuff in its assigned place. Have an armband for your phone if you use it in the gym, put your wallet back in your pocket after you pay, and bring your own bag if your keys are uncomfortable to carry. If you never set your things down outside your house, at least you can’t lose them in a random location.
And that’s an important point. If you lose something in your home, you’re really just out the time it takes you to find it. If you lose something in public, it might not be coming back.
Make It Easy to Find
90% of the time when you lose something, it’s right there in front of you, you just can’t see it. Maybe it’s slipped between the couch cushions, gotten caught up in your duvet, or is just blending into the background like a ninja in the dark. While it’s impossible to stop this sort of thing happening, you can do a few things to make it much easier to find your stuff when it does.
Dark black covers might match your phone, but they make it hell when you have to search for it under the couch. If you lose it all the time, add a luminous orange or hot pink cover to it; there’s no way it will blend into the background then. The same is true for your keys. If you lose them all the time, add a large obnoxious keychain.
You should also look at Bluetooth tags like Tile. You attach a small fob to your keys and then you can use your phone to track them down. It also works in reverse: if you have your keys, you can press a button on the Tile and have your phone play a sound so you can find it.
Don’t Put Your Phone On Silent
If you lose your phone regularly, don’t put it on silent. This makes it impossible for you to find it by calling it. Instead, use Do Not Disturb. Both Android and iOS let you configure it so that certain notifications and multiple calls from the same person in quick succession will get through. This will make your life a lot easier.
Tidy Your House and Office
It’s a lot easier to lose something in a messy room than a clean one. If your desk is overflowing with papers or the shelf where you put your keys and wallet covered in other stuff, they’re going to go walkabout.
If you’re not into keeping your whole place neat, at least tidy up the places you’ve designated for your stuff. If you insist on keeping a messy desk, buy a dock for your phone so it at least stands out.
Turn On Find My iPhone or Find My Device
Find My iPhone on iOS and Find My Device on Android are great; with them you can track your phone wherever it is and, if it’s been stolen, even disable it remotely. You can also force your phone to play a sound even if it’s on silent, which is great if you’ve lost your phone under the couch.
Find My iPhone and Find My Device are a must for everyone, even if you don’t regularly lose your phone.
Don’t Bring It With You On Nights Out
If you’re one of those people who always loses their phone—as well as their dignity—on a big night out, there’s a simple solution: don’t bring it with you.
If you absolutely have to have a phone with you at all times, then consider investing in a cheap replaceable phone for nights out. It won’t stop you from losing it, but it will at least make it cheaper to replace when you do.
Make It Easier For People to Return To You
No matter what you do—short of tethering your things to you at all times—there’s always a chance you’ll misplace your phone or wallet. The best thing to do then is make it as easy as possible for someone to return it to you.
On iOS, you can add medical information, including your next of kin’s contact details. This means that whoever finds your phone will at least know your name and the number of someone who’s in contact with you.
On Android, things are even easier. You can display your own information on the lock screen. Just make sure to add an email address instead of your phone number.
For things like your wallet or keys, it’s simple to add a card or keychain with your contact details.
If you don’t want to do those things, consider making sure you have contacts named things like “Mom” or “Dad” or “Home.” You’d be surprised how many lost phones get returned because the person who found them told them to call mom.
Constantly losing your stuff is basically a bad habit. With a bit of thought, you can set up a system so that it’s much harder for you to misplace things and, if you do, it’s easier for you to find them.