Oh, I Was Looking For That!

When I am helping a client organize, one of the statements I always hear is, “Oh, I was looking for that!” Usually it’s after we come across an item buried under a pile of stuff, or else we’ve found it put away in a place that the owner had long forgotten.

I’ll ask the client, “Where were you looking for it?” That location is where this person expects to find this item — it’s this item’s “home”. So I’ll say, “Let’s go put it there.” If we relocate an item to its home, it should be easily found next time.

An item’s home isn’t always the most logical place. It’s not always the place that someone else would expect to find it. Here are some examples in my own house where items have unusual homes, but we always know that’s where they live.

When we moved into this apartment 15 years ago, I took a couple of days off from work to unpack and settle in. Most of the boxes were in my living room, so that’s where I opened them up using my box cutter. My living room has built-in bookshelves, and each time I was done opening a box, I closed the box cutter and put it on the nearest shelf. That kept it from getting lost among the clutter of unpacking, and it was easily reachable when I was ready to open another box.

Box cutter on a shelf 2017-01-26

Can you spot the box cutter on the bookshelf?

Fifteen years later, that box cutter still lives on that shelf! It might be more logical to put it in the tool kit, or in the same place as the scissors. But if we moved it, I don’t know if we would ever find it again. We’re so used to finding it on the living room shelf. Nobody has ever mentioned it so I assume it is not particularly noticeable.

Here is another unusual home that evolved over time. We used to have a hamster named Puff. He lived in a plastic cage with lots of nooks and crannies and places for him to climb. Once a week, we took that cage apart and washed it thoroughly in the kitchen sink. It was tricky to take apart, so we took the needle-nosed pliers out of the toolbox to facilitate that process. We left the pliers in the kitchen on an open shelf so that it would be right at hand every week.

The hamster died seven years ago, but the needle-nosed pliers are still on the kitchen shelf! A few years ago, I put it back in the toolbox, but the next time I needed it, I was annoyed that it wasn’t so conveniently on the shelf anymore, so I put it back there and it has remained there ever since.

Finding homes for frequently-used items in your house is a very personal thing. If you’re having trouble keeping track of things when you need them, give some thought as to where you use them most, and then locate them there.

What’s the most unusual place that you keep something in your house?