You’re going to think I’m a total dork, but Sherlock Holmes is my favorite fictional character. Luckily for me, there’s going to be a new, "Elementary," which will hopefully give my obsession some cool factor. Jonny Lee Miller will portray the eccentric genius/drug addict/sociopath. And Lucy Liu will play Watson, which is very exciting for me because 1) it’s Sherlock, 2) hel-lo, fellow Asian-American woman and 3) we totally went to the same high school.
In real life though, the only chance I get to exercise my skills of deduction is when my husband or I lose stuff. I am the designated finder because Mr. Min can never track down his glasses, keys or wallet. Perhaps his mind spazzes out when he needs to find stuff. If so, I totally get it. The same thing happens to me whenever I need to do simple math or come up with 20 percent for food delivery.
Finding stuff is a different matter. All of a sudden, I become this strong, do-anything sort of woman. I get real happy and think, “Oo! Challenge!” My tender nose goes a-quiver, and I think I must have been a bloodhound in a former life or something. Since I have a lot of experience doing this and not everyone is as crazy as I am, I’ve put this tutorial together.
Step 1: Relax
When you’ve lost that all-important presentation folder you need for today, the first step is to relax. Finding stuff is like swimming. If you relax, you float. If you tense up, you sink. So before you scan the room, take a couple of deep breaths, relax, and all those great ideas (on where it is) will float up to the surface.
Step 2: Check the obvious place
Mr. Min can never find anything even when I tell him where it is. He is always surprised when I pull it out of the same drawer or tabletop that he’s been pawing through for the past two minutes. That’s really where the item is 75 percent of the time. So be thorough and don’t rush things. Go to the obvious place and pick up clothes, papers and other things that are blocking your view. If you still can’t find it, take a break to think about where else it might be. The missing object could be in some sort of variation of the obvious place, like on top of a different table, in your other bag or in the pocket of your other pants.
Step 3: Retrace your steps
This is classic advice for finding stuff. It doesn’t always work for me because I can never remember what I do from one day to the next. If this is something that works for you, that’s great -- I envy you. I need a little extra help, so I use Google Calendar to keep track of my movements. I can call up the data on my smartphone anytime. I also share the calendar with my husband so we don’t have to have stupid, inane conversations about whether we can both make it to a party next weekend. I don’t have to ask (and then forget) what time it’s happening and where it’s located. It gives me a sense of relief knowing that if I’m ever falsely accused of a crime, there’s a record there of where I’ve been.
Here’s a bonus tip: If you drop your contact lenses in the bathroom, search high places like the bathroom sink or a shelf before you get on your hands and knees on the floor. Probably, it falls like a parachute rather than a rock.
Step 4: Know your habits
For me, this method works a lot better than retracing my steps. Here are some of the places where I might find my glasses: on a table where I set them down after rubbing my eyes or on the bathroom sink where I take them off to wash my face. They could also be under the bed, next to the book I had been reading before falling asleep the night before.
When it comes to wallets and keys, they could on top of the dresser where Mr. Min set them down while changing his pants. Keys could be next to the bike, file cabinet or door I had just been unlocking, and a wallet next to my laptop because I had just pulled out my credit card to buy something awesome on zappos.com. They could also be in the purse I used the day before. If you’re like me and can’t always remember which one it was, don’t just blindly search through all of them. Instead, stop and look through the rest of your house for handbags that aren’t part of your main pile. It’s probably there.
Here’s another tip: If you usually keep a wallet in your back pocket, you should probably check by the toilet.
Step 5: Categorize your stuff
Keys are a great example. They can be categorized as small items, metal objects and things used to open stuff. That’s why I can usually find them in the coin tray with other small, metal objects. Or, if I’m sick, drunk, on my period or just really out of it, I might find them in the refrigerator. This totally makes sense, you guys. I open the refrigerator, and therefore my keys are in there because I use them to open things. That’s also the reason why I absentmindedly pull out my keys to open the turnstiles at the subway station, or vice versa, my Metrocard to open my front door. It’s some sort of mental association, and I really, really hope I’m not the only person who does this. So yeah, do this as a last resort. Think about the object, think about its function, all the various ways it might be classified and maybe that will help you find it.
Now, here are some preventative measures that can help make life a little easier.
Find a place for everything
It’s just a lot harder to lose stuff if you have somewhere to put it. For example, my wedding rings have a place in pretty much every room of the apartment. For the bedroom, I have a ring holder on my nightstand. In the bathroom, I use a hook. And in the kitchen, I put them in a teacup while I do the dishes.
For random buttons, store credit cards, and foreign currency, I have this small stuff organizer that I once purchased at the Hello Kitty store. I love this thing because it saves me time and money. If I didn’t have it, I’d probably use an accessory hanger or a mason jar.
The same thing goes for my lonely, single socks. They always seem to pop up when I do laundry. If I find one, it goes straight to a tote bag that I’ve set aside for it. Every few weeks, I’ll pull out the bag and try to match pairs. That’s always a very happy occasion for all of us.
Organize your junk drawers
Almost any mess can be tamed if you “pigeonhole” your possessions. Here’s an example. I took a couple of under-used mugs and a bunch of red Solo cups to corral some of my small kitchen utensils. Now, I can find almost everything in seconds.
Just keep multiples
This is really a last resort, and I’m sure a lot of you already do this. Sometimes, it’s just worth it to buy extras in order to cut down on the number of headaches and stress caused by chasing after things you’ve lost. I keep more than five or six pairs of scissors around the house, but still, they never seem to be around when I need them. Go figure. In the end, it’s a comforting thought that almost anything you own can be replaced.
What about you? What are some of the things you keep losing, and what do you do to make sure you can find them again? And have you ever done dumb things like putting your keys or cell phone in the refrigerator? I really hope I’m not alone in this, so tell me all about it in the comments.