• Cameron M. Clark

On the Power of Habits, or Why You Never Lose Your Toothbrush

Where are your keys at the moment? Your glasses? Your purse or wallet? And what about that cell phone? (let's hope you didn't leave it on silent again so you can't even phone yourself to locate it) These are some of the most often lost items, and unfortunately the most frustrating to lose, both because they are meant to be moved around with us throughout the day, and are often only used intermittently. But when we need one of these items, we really need it! And, it takes infinitely more energy for us to search for a lost item than to mindlessly place it down somewhere without giving it a moment of reflection.

There is a very simple solution here that will be familiar to most of us, which is to choose one location for each of these objects, and always strive to place the object back in that same location when we are done with it. This is exactly why we never lose our toothbrush - because we have developed a strong habit of placing it back in the holder when we are done with it each morning and each night. We just don't tend to hear stories of people turning their house upside down looking for their toothbrush. So why should our keys, glasses, purse/wallet, or cellphone be any different?

If you find yourself constantly misplacing items around your home, the solution is to develop strong habits around keeping things in consistent locations. Some logic and creativity here can help. Think about where a logical place to keep these items would be. Keys? Try leaving them in a bowl on an entryway table, or on a designated key hook. Glasses? Try always setting them down in the same location on the counter, or by your stack of reading material. Cell phone? Try keeping it in the same pocket, or by the same power outlet. As the saying goes "a place for everything, and everything in it's place".

And finally, an advanced tip for habit formation. If you find that you are having difficulty determining a logical location to consistently keep something, when you finally do find it, don’t put the item back where you found it, but rather where you first looked for it - that's your new logical location for it.

What other tips or tricks do you have for not misplacing things? I'd love to hear them - email me at cam@sharpthinking.org

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