Stop Losing Stuff – Getting Organized with ADHD

by | Sep 18, 2012 | Organizing ADHD | 2 comments

What have you lost today? Your keys? Your phone? Your wallet?

Losing stuff is a huge challenge of getting organized with Adult ADHD. Be honest. How often do you race around muttering, “where in the *&^%$ did I put my _______? “(fill in the blank)

Perhaps you’ve heard the basic rule of getting organized: Everything needs a home. Possessions without homes become homeless and get lost. They roam about and you never quite know where to find them.

Giving everything a home is a solid, basic organizing rule you need to pay attention to if you want to stop losing stuff.

However, when it comes to getting organized with ADHD we have to look at that idea of giving everything a home a tad differently. To stay organized, ADHD adults need to create the right homes for their stuff. Not just any home will do.

(You’ll find lots more about getting organized with ADHD and creating homes for your stuff in my Organized for Life ebook.)

Things you always use in one spot need what I call permanent homes. Things like kitchen knives, laundry detergent and office supplies. Sure they can get lost, but if you keep them where you use them you’ll be in pretty good shape.

Losing Stuff That Roams Is The Real Problem

Losing stuff that never stays in the same place is more common. I call these things Travelers.

Travelers are things like cell phones, keys, glasses, purses or wallets.

Creating a permanent home for a Traveler won’t keep you from losing it because if you have Adult ADHD always putting a Traveler away in its permanent home will take too many steps and you won’t do it. You’re more apt to set it down some random place.

This means travelers actually need more than one home. They need a permanent home as well as numerous vacation homes.

Losing keys is a big problem for ADHD Adults so let’s use my keys as an example of permanent and vacation homes.

The permanent home of my keys is in my purse. However, their vacation homes are:

  • my car ignition,
  • my right front pocket when I don’t carry my purse,
  • by the phone on the left-hand kitchen counter by the back door,
  • on the left corner of my dresser.

See how specific I am about my keys’ vacation homes? That’s the trick to not losing stuff if you have Adult ADHD.

You have to know exactly where the Travelers’ vacation homes are and PUT THEM THERE when you’re not using them.

Otherwise you will keep losing your keys and other stuff and you’ll find yourself racing about yelling, “Where in the heck are my $%^&*@$ keys?”


  1. Nedra

    What suggestions do you have for people who tend to leave their purse in restuarants, on buses, etc. I have a very small wallet on a string that I do not take off when I’m out, but it doesn’t hold my keys, lipstick, hand lotion or phone–just id and money. So I carry a tote, meaning I end up carrying two things.

    Today I switched back to a purse that carries everything. Went out and left it at the business I visited. Fortunately, I didn’t get far before I remembered it but, it is so frustrating. What kind of purse do you recommend?

    • danarayburn

      Hi Nedra, I suggest a small purse with a long strap that you can wear across your chest. Something larger than your wallet so you can get those keys, phone, etc., in there but not too big to be comfortable. Fanny packs are convenient because you don’t take them off, but they don’t look very stylish.

      Here’s the habit to form. Do a double check each time you leave some place public. Take a moment to look where you were sitting to be sure you’ve got your jacket and gear. It takes practice and awareness, but it’s well worth it.

      All best to you,


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