Last Saturday I lost my keys. As I was leaving a meeting and walking to my car, I reached into the zippered pouch of my purse, where I always put them, only to find…no keys. Next, I reached into my coat pocket, only to find…no keys. Panic ensured. Could I possibly have locked them in my car? I ran out to the car, fully expecting to see them hanging from the ignition but, alas, no keys. I retraced my steps from the parking lot to the meeting location but did not find them. Now I was getting really anxious. I had an organizing client scheduled in 45 minutes, I was about half an hour’s drive from her home, and I couldn’t get into my car. Needless to say, my anxiety level accelerated. I did another frantic search – coat pocket, pants pockets, purse. Finally, my keys surfaced; they were in a different compartment in my purse, buried in a dark corner. Relief!
So why am I sharing this story with you?
First, because I very rarely lose or misplace things, I got to experience first-hand the frantic state my clients often face when they can’t find or misplace something important. It reinforced the importance of establishing routines and systems, and the anxiety that takes over when those systems go awry.
Second, it reiterated for me the importance of helping my clients establish a single, designated home for things. Because I picked up my purse “backwards,” the keys got placed in the wrong zippered compartment. When you return an item to its assigned place, you’ll always know where to find it when you need it. When it gets put in the wrong place, time is wasted, and anxiety levels can rise.
Finally, it reinforced that spending an extra 30 seconds to check that something is put away properly (or put away at all rather than just leaving on the table, floor, etc) can save a lot of time and energy when you need to retrieve it.