Stop Leaving Items Behind

Do you have trouble losing items when you are on the go? Here’s a way to stop leaving things behind.

Living in the world today means being out and about. Whether we ride a train to work, hop in a cab to get to the airport, or tote the family in the car, we need to carry our lives around. As we move from place to place, it is easy to accidentally leave belongings behind. Unfortunately, it is often a hassle (and expense) to replace them.

Years ago I developed a simple system to minimize the chance of forgetting a possession I was carrying. It is called the “Number of Items”, and here is how it works:

3 items to remember

How Many Items Do I Have Today?

STEP 1: Whenever you leave a location (e.g. when you leave in the morning, when you take off on a trip, when you head to a meeting), count the number of separate items you are bringing. On a typical daytime outing, this might include:

  1. Jacket/Coat
  2. Purse
  3. Briefcase/Backpack
  4. Cell Phone (it is good to count this separately because it is so easy to lose)

If you are traveling on an airplane, you might also have a carry on bag. If you are going to a meeting, you may have an extra bag with meeting supplies/laptop/projector/etc. If you are heading to school, you may have a piece of sporting equipment or a musical instrument. Perhaps you always bring a water bottle. Whatever you take separately (e.g. not inside another container… the cell phone being an exception), count the number of items.

STEP 2: Say OUT LOUD the number of items you are taking… “Today I have 5 items.” Speaking out loud gives your brain 2 impressions: the mental count and the auditory imprint, increasing the likelihood you will remember it.

STEP 3: EVERY TIME you move from one location to another (e.g. you leave the cab and walk into the building… you leave the playing field and get back into the car), count the number of items you have with you. If you have fewer than you should, go through your mind to think of what you might be missing.

The secret to this system is its simplicity; in most instances, you will only need to remember one number. It is quicker to count than to mentally review a list of possessions each time you relocate. If you count the correct number of items, you know you have what you need.  Using this memory tool is surprisingly effective, and works for both children and adults.

If you have lost too many phones to count, or your child can’t seem to come home with his sweatshirt, why not give it a try? Let us know what you think!