Find Lost Objects

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Late for work again because you couldn't find your car keys? Or are you packing to go on vacation but don't know where your passports are? Your situation doesn't have to be any of those two, but it has to do with finding something you lost. Use this guide to save time -- and your sanity.


  1. Check your immediate surroundings. Survey the room or rooms where the item might be. Don't go into depth, searching under piles of clothes and inside pants' pockets. Instead, just look around to see if the item is in plain sight.
  2. Look for the missing object where it's supposed to be, or where it can usually be found. If you lost your check card, then you should obviously check your wallet. If your keys are missing, then look in your door and car locks to make sure you didn't simply forget them. Sometimes things are just where you left them.
  3. Check on your person. It sounds silly, but it's possible to forget that your glasses are already hanging around your neck, perched on your head, or even right in front of your eyes. Check these obvious spots once more even if you're sure you already did.
    • Don't forget to check your pockets while you're at it, even if you think you already did. Did you empty them? Did you reach all the way to the bottoms? Check the pockets of any jackets or coats you've worn lately, too.
  4. Search for the missing object in depth. Now that you know the object is not in plain view, look in more detail around your home and car. If you have a messy residence, this may require some time. Make sure to be thorough. Most people have the same daily routine, which will narrow things down a bit. Eliminate places that the item is very unlikely to be (such as keys in the oven) to save time. You probably thought of several possible places, gave a cursory check of the first few, and by the time you got to the end of your list were getting worried and looking more carefully. Go back and look carefully in those more likely places too.
  5. Create a list of rooms, then search each room in your house for the item. Check off each room until you reach the one with the object. If you cannot find it, it is not in the house.
  6. Clean your surroundings. Try doing a rigorous tidy-up of your room, house, apartment, dorm room, car, book bag, backpack, purse, or whatever area you have likely lost your item. Items seldom disappear from spotlessly neat areas. Just cleaning up may very well reveal the whereabouts of your lost item. If not, well, at least you cleaned up!
  7. Think back to the last time and place you used the missing object. Did you take it to work or to a friend's house? Were you recently at a restaurant or on the city bus? When did you use the object last? Retracing your steps may lead to the object. These things usually happen when we are on auto-pilot and get distracted. Maybe someone was cleaning up and moved your item. Where might they have put it?
  8. Pretend like you have just got through using the missing item in question , think like you need to put it it somewhere. Go to the first place that pops into your head. It might be there {This is a method of finding missing objects as described in the fiction(?) book "Beat the Reaper""}
  9. Call the people and places you've been recently. Now that you have narrowed down the places it could be, call your friends, your job, the bus station, etc. They may be holding your missing object for you.
  10. Ask others to help you look for it. Enlisting the help of others will often enhance your chances of spotting the lost item. This could be your family members, your friends, the bus driver, even total strangers (who are often remarkably obliging in looking for a misplaced item!). You can even put an advertisement in the local newspaper, on lampposts or on Craig's List--it's a long shot but may be worth it if your lost object is valuable.
  11. Search systematically. Depending on your surroundings, try to come up with a system to avoid overlooking an area. For instance, if you think you may have lost your lucky penny in a grassy lawn, you may want to create a search pattern by yourself or with volunteers to avoid overlooking an area.
  12. Consider the possibility that the item may have been stolen. Do not panic, but consider how much the item might be worth to a stranger and whether anyone might want it as their own. If the item is relatively valueless, of course, it's unlikely to be an object of theft. However, you never know--people sometimes steal things for apparently nonsensical reasons.
  13. Give it time. Sometimes an item will surface in time. Your sister finds it while vacuuming in an oddball spot you never would thought of, for instance. Unless it is something which can cause serious problems (like credit cards, cell phones, checkbooks, I.D.), sometimes just waiting pays off.
  14. Make sure the missing item doesn't get lost again, whether it is found or you replaced it. Whether the item is replaced or found, get a better key chain (and use it for its purpose), organize your home, and have a designated place to store your valuables until the next time you need them.


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  • Take your time to find the missing item check where you last went.
  • Try not to make a mess or you'll have a harder time finding what you lost...
  • Do not look blindly for the item. The first reaction is to search for the missing item everywhere imaginable, leading to frustration. Take a moment to calm down and think logically. Be methodical and split the area up in smaller zones and scan one at a time. If you go back, always search the area as you've earlier defined.
  • On at least one search pass, look above eye-level. So often, we're looking down while searching, but might have put the item on a higher shelf, "just for a moment."
  • Check everything again and again. If you have searched your room for your keys three times, check again. It is not rare to find something in the very place you thought you had already searched thoroughly. Ask someone else to help you if you don't mind them looking through your things.
  • Don't forget the automobile! For most people, the last place they were before coming home was in their car. For small objects (such as keys and credit cards), be sure to look between and under the seats of your car to make sure they didn't fall out of your pocket.
  • Consider the item's characteristics. The nature of certain items makes them easier or more difficult to locate. Missing cell phones, for example, can often be recovered by simply calling the number of the phone, assuming the phone is powered on and charged. Also, consider that when you use the item. For example, if you often use something in the winter, try checking the pockets of your winter jackets.
  • If none of this works, just stop looking. Get your mind completely off finding the object. This gives the amazing computer in your brain a chance to work, which sometimes leads to instant recall.
  • Write your name in heavy duty markers on valuables in a hidden place. That way, if they get stolen, you can easily prove it's yours.
  • If you don't find the item quickly, stop looking and start picking up and/or cleaning your house, car, or office. This changes your focus and level of frustration. When you find the item (or even if you don't), you'll be on your way to more organized surroundings and less likely to misplace things.
  • Know your habits. Some people lay things down around them neatly; some of us toss. If you're a tosser, go into the most traveled spots of the most suspect rooms, then pretend that you're tossing the object as you turn in a circle. This gives you a radius (based on how you would toss that particular object -- you'd toss your keys differently than a notebook or breakable object) of roughly where it would be, including the trajectory it could have bounced off of the bed or a sofa cushion.
  • For next time try to remember where you first looked for it, when you realized it was lost. Keep it in this place and you should avoid losing the same thing again. Usually the first place that springs to mind will be the same each time.
  • If the object is small, and you think it might be on the floor, lay your head down so that the floor is at eye level. This makes small objects more easily seen.
  • Try to keep backups of the most common misplaced things (keys, wallet, purse, cell phone, and the remote control), so that if you don't have time to look for them, you can still get by. Make sure they look and feel different from the originals and keep them in a separate place. You don't want to lose both by always thinking you had the other one.
  • Habit is a great substitute for memory. Practice the habit of putting your keys and wallet/purse in the same place, every time. If you catch yourself thinking "I'll just put it here for a moment..." stop, give yourself a small dope-slap, and go put it in the proper place...which should be a convenient and dedicated shelf, container, or area very close to the first place you looked.
  • Put your keys on a nail or key hooks (available at a hardware or home decor store) next to the door. You will always have your keys handy and the fire dept advises putting them where you can grab and go. You could also keep a dish or shelf (frisbee, abalone shell -- whatever will hold your stuff) where you put all those important things (phone, wallet, keys, change) right as you walk in the door.
  • Put your jewelry into a jewelry box to keep it easy to find and a clean look to your bureau.
  • When you do something, say it. When you talk, your brain works to remember what are you doing. If you put your wallet somewhere, say to yourself where you put it.
  • If you are extremely worried, use one of those new RFID tags and locaters. Just don't lose the locater.
  • You can also try services like TheFoundBin. These sites list found objects on an easy to use map.
  • If nothing whatsoever works, simply pay to replace the item. After you have the new one, the lost item will suddenly appear in a place you thought you had raided thousands of times.
  • If the object is small enough to fit in say, a pocket, then try checking dirty pants that have not been washed yet or are somewhere in the laundry room.
  • Check in the car: between those back seats, the driver's seat and passenger seat, underneath the seats and in the door pockets, glove box, centre console, cupholders, and any other place in the car it might be. The object may have fallen out of your pocket as you were sitting, if it is a set of keys, a cell phone, MP3 player, etc.
  • Make sure that you check between and underneath the sofa, chair, and couch cushions if you think it might be there.


  • If the item can be easily replaced, then cut your losses to avoid further inconvenience. Check and credit cards, for example, can be replaced by your bank, usually free of charge. If a card has not been found after going through the above steps, call to have the card deactivated and have a new one sent. Many places do not check photo I.D. when using such cards, and if it has been stolen, you could be hurt financially if you don't report the loss promptly.

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