I constantly lose my keys, phone and wallet. I tend to leave them inside the car, house, bathroom, public places, etc. It costs me a lot of valuable time plus increases my stress levels. Any tips on keeping my valuables in check?

I have tried carrying around a fanny pack, checking my pockets when I leave a place, etc. but I am ridiculously forgetful. Any easy, "for dummies" tips out there are greatly appreciated. Thanks.

5 Answers 5


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Have you tried putting your phone on a leash?

Seriously. Tether all your stuff to your belt loop and you won't be leaving it everywhere.

  • Great idea! I didn't even know this existed. This will definitely solve my phone problem. Thank you.
    – xtycon
    Jul 6, 2015 at 23:07
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    I wouldn't define it as a lifehack... else the phone is a lifehack answer to "How to contact people being too far to hear me?"...
    – Laurent S.
    Jul 7, 2015 at 12:45
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    Well the phone isn't the lifehack, the lifehack is the method for which to avoid losing our valuables. It's a lifehack because it will save us all a lot of time, energy and stress from frantically looking around trying to find the lost phone, you know? I think this neat little leash gadget is a quick and easy lifehack for not losing my phone.
    – xtycon
    Jul 9, 2015 at 5:09

Personally, I mentally recite the mantra "wallet, phone, keys" about a dozen times a day, while tapping the relevant pocket - it's not really a hack, but it's pretty effective. The nice thing is that, after a few repetitions, the mantra becomes this single block that you recall in it's entirety, rather than a list of items to be remembered individually. Combined with the tapping, you learn to recognise both patterns, and if you miss an item in either then the two become jarringly misaligned.

You can make the mantra as complex as you need it to be, with a dozen items if necessary, and you still only have one "thing" that you actually need to remember. With repetition, "wallet, phone, keys, pen, watch, hob, window, lights" is no harder to remember than "wallet".

Spend a week or two making a conscious effort to perform this recitation/tapping ritual in any place where you might previously have lost something. Hopefully, by then, it will be something that you do instinctively.

  • Thanks for your advice! That's actually a really nice trick. I need to train myself to do this mantra/tapping ritual a dozen or more times a day. I could even turn it into a little song/dance (I usually learn better through interactive activities/ physical motion, plus it's fun hehe). Great tip! Thanks so much for your input.
    – xtycon
    Jul 9, 2015 at 6:32
  • I have done something similar to try to remember if I locked the door before I left the house - I would say "door locked!" and tap the pocket with my keys. It worked at first, until it became automatic so I didn't even notice I was doing it, and they I would stop myself and ask, "Wait, did I really just say 'door locked'" or did I imagine it?
    – Michael
    Dec 4, 2021 at 0:12

I used to have this problem on a morning whilst getting ready. Usually after I'd left the bathroom I'd have to backtrack to find my phone. I had a habit of carrying my phone until the first point I needed both hands and at the point would put it down somewhere. Typically I'd wonder where my phone was five minutes later and have to search for it. I'd find it in all kinds of places; on top of the fridge, on the arm of the couch, etc...

A couple of years ago I stared making a conscious effort to put my phone in a specific place every morning. At first this felt unnatural but I taught myself to do it and now rarely, if ever, have this problem.

  • Yes, that's what I've tried in the past. I have a small pocket at the front of my fanny pack designated for my phone, but somehow I would end up putting random stuff in my fanny pack and still lose my phone and keys. It's nice to hear that it is possible, as in your example. It just takes a lot of effort, as you say, and focus. Thank you for your input.
    – xtycon
    Jul 9, 2015 at 5:16
  • This is why I can't do odd jobs around the house... I'll unconsciously sit the screwdriver down halfway to wherever i'm working, and when I go back to look for it, something else will leave my hands somewhere...
    – Michael
    Dec 4, 2021 at 0:23

This is probably a focus and habit issue as opposed to forgetfulness.

How many things have you got going on at once? Try doing one thing at a time and extend the boundaries of start/ finish are.

What I mean is when you think "I need to drive to work." The start of that journey is not when you get in the car, it's all the things that lead you there - so pretty much the alarm, showering, dressing, ensuring you have your wallet and other things needed for the day.

The end of the journey isn't when you stop the car, it's when you get to the point you are intending to start you next thing. So for me, my journey finishes once my computer boots up at work and I've clocked in.

Then it's a case of building habits So it's repeatable.

you can do this by taking a calendar, and every day marking off when you remembered your keys/wallet/phone. You aim is then to not break the habit chain!

  • Thanks for your advice. I agree that it is a focus issue; my mind and thoughts are usually pretty scattered everywhere. It's hard to begin to fix that, you know? I like your suggestion of marking off the days on a calendar to be consistent on building the habit. I think this could also work as an incentive to motivate me to try harder not lose my stuff so I can check it off on the calendar. Thanks for your input.
    – xtycon
    Jul 9, 2015 at 5:02
  • Might be worth noting, 'try' isn't a great word, 'try harder' is worse because your language is setting your self up for failure, you are basically telling your subconscious "you are going to put more effort into not reaching your goal" Maybe something along the lines of; "I will change my current habit of starting my journey when the car starts and stops, to a new habit where my journey starts with preparing items to leave the house, to arriving safely at my destination with the car door closed, locked with all of the items I need with me.
    – Matt
    Jul 9, 2015 at 5:29
  • No, you're definitely right; the subconscious mind is always listening. I need to cut that word from my vocabulary. Thanks for pointing that out. :)
    – xtycon
    Jul 9, 2015 at 6:35

This probably might be a Hack but it worked for me. I keep a $20.00 bill in my car. If in my house, car or anywhere I misplace any of the items. The following day the first stranger I meet; I hand them a or the $20.00 bill! I also now have "Lookout" on my phone.

  • Welcome to Lifehacks SE. I'm not 100% sure what you are trying to say here. I am interpreting it as giver $20 to a stranger to help find your phone. If that is what you are saying, I'm afraid that this isn't really a life hack. Could you clear this up?
    – michaelpri
    Jul 11, 2015 at 20:08
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    What I understand from Michael's suggestion is that you give $20 to a stranger as a penalty for losing your phone that day and, thus, you have as an incentive 20 bucks. It's interesting that sometimes we think of money as having more value than material things (though I have lost/misplaced a bit of money as well in the past) but we can use that to our advantage to motivate us to not lose stuff as much because who would want to just hand off $20 bucks to a stranger on the street on an everyday basis?!
    – xtycon
    Jul 14, 2015 at 15:27

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