“A common trait of people with ADD is the uncanny ability to lose things,” writes psychotherapist Stephanie Sarkis, Ph.D, in her helpful book 10 Simple Solutions for Adults with ADD: How to Overcome Chronic Distraction & Accomplish Your Goals.
For instance, you might lose everything from your keys to your phone to important papers. And this can cost you both time and money, Sarkis says.
In her book she offers a variety of valuable tips to stop losing your things along with advice on what to do if you do lose something. Here’s a selection of her suggestions.
Have a Home for Everything
One technique is to store items where you typically use them. Sarkis uses the example of reading glasses. If you read in bed, keep your glasses on your nightstand so they’re easily accessible.
Also, store similar items together. Use clear containers with pullout drawers. This way you can see what’s in each container, and you don’t have to bother unstacking containers with lids. Use divider trays in desk drawers to keep office supplies organized.
Have a basket or rack by the door for your keys. As soon as you get home, put your keys in their place.
When finding a home for your things, Sarkis suggests asking yourself these questions:
- “How often do I use this item?
- Where do I use it the most?
- Is there a better location for this item?
- Are there similar items to store with this item?”
Establish Daily Rituals
According to Sarkis, “going through the same routine each day can help you save time and avoid losing things.” She suggests making a list of all the steps you take to get ready every morning. Laminate your list. As you go through your morning routine, cross off each item. For instance, your list might include: taking a shower, getting dressed, making breakfast for yourself and your kids, and making their lunches.
To keep items together, keep a small tray in your bedroom. In it put the items you need to carry with you, such as your wallet, money clip and phone. Sarkis also suggests spending 15 minutes every night to put things away, and laying out your entire outfit for the next day.
Every day, before leaving your house, double-check that you have everything you need. You also can write a list of items – such as your wallet, keys, phone and planner – and laminate the list. Create a smaller version, and carry it with you.
Figure Out What You Lose Most
Consider what item you tend to lose most often. Then think about how you usually lose it:
- “Does it fall out of your bag?
- Do you put it down somewhere and accidentally leave it?
- Do you put it in a special place in your house and then forget where you put it?”
Next, brainstorm how you can stop losing this object. Maybe you could buy a product that helps you keep track of this item. Or maybe you could change your behavior or routine.
For instance, if the item always falls out of your bag, “you may need to purchase a bag with zippered pockets or a key clip,” Sarkis writes.
When You Do Lose Something
If you do lose something, keep it in perspective. Everyone loses things from time to time. Plus, losing an item is minor compared to other losses. Stay positive. “Say to yourself over and over, ‘I will find this item,’” Sarkis writes.
Retrace your steps by remembering where you were, and either visiting or calling these locations. Because losing something can feel overwhelming, take a break. You’re less likely to find what you’re looking for when you’re furious or frustrated.
While it’s common to lose things when you have ADHD, you can minimize the losses by practicing effective strategies, such as the ones above.