So last Friday it was like I was in Back to the Future except that I was catapulted back to life before I created a system to keep myself and now others sorted – because we couldn’t find the key to the roofbox.  For various reasons, the last time we used it was about June 2019, before I finally took decisive action to sort my house/life out and created the Serenely Sorted System.

You know the feeling. 

You can’t find it and have looked in all the places it would usually be.  No luck.  Slightly tense situation ensues in the house in which while apparently we do not operate a blame culture but in this case whose fault is it?  Sadly, with my track record pre-serenity, it was probably me.  So after my kids went off to the park with my husband, instead of spending the planned blissful two hours on my business – ideas, content, strategy – I was on a sad mission to find the roofbox keys.

[insert your own appropriate sentence/swearwords to indicate how I was feeling].

Of course, since then, all keys live in their designated End Home.  Keys only ever live there or in my handbag.  But not these elusive-but-critical-to-ability-to-go-camping-tomorrow roofbox keys.

I looked literally everywhere I could think of

We’ve all had to do it right?  I went through all my handbags (I have a box of not-used-much bags above my wardrobe) and whilst all contents were emptied before they went there I still went through every one in case they were in a side pocket or in the lining.  I went through every drawer where I knew they wouldn’t be because they had been sorted – just in case. 

The cost of losing it

I even phoned the roofbox shop to find out if we could get new ones.  We could: £15 but three days delivery – too late for camping, too much wasted money and a very annoying and tense situation in which the tent had nowhere to go.

Eventually I paused for thought to think logically, the left-brainer that I am.  They were eventually found in the box that the roof box bits and manual came in because apparently that’s where we believed would be the logical place for them back then.

I’m telling you this because I’m sure you have had a similar experience in the recent past where you couldn’t find something, and either then had to buy a new one, suffered a wasted few hours looking or worse, a bill forgotten and not paid ending up with a fine.

Five tips to avoid item loss, lost time and losing it:

Now I’m Serenely Sorted, those days are pretty much gone because everything has End Homes.  However, this problem frozen in time since before I began following the new approach, was a keen reminder of how glad I am to be sorted now.  That feeling I had for two hours last week – and worse the time I wasted that I could have been using to grow my business – is not something I want to have ever again.

So, here are my tips for creating End Homes to ensure serenity and quick finding of precious things.

1. Create End Homes for all of your top mess makers and important things

Ensure your keys, and everything else, have clearly defined End Homes – especially those that get put away for months or even a year between uses!  An End Home is a defined place where something lives and always returns to after use. 

2. Make sure they are not too small and not too big (i.e. realistic!)

I have one basket for all handbag related things, but not separate ones for umbrellas, sunglasses, etc.  Because it’s not a problem to root around and find the sunnies, and, frankly, it’s too much effort to keep smaller categories tidy and sorted.  It’s a careful balance between being too ultra-organised to start with and not being able to maintain it vs. the ‘chuck it all in’ approach to a cupboard where the contents fall out when you try to retrieve something.

3. I personally don’t like to label drawers or End Homes, though you might like to

Because I think it’s important to react to the ebb and flow of life, and I’m sometimes repurposing space dividers for new uses.  As long as everyone knows that the middle drawer in the book case is the keys End Home, I don’t feel the need to label it.  But if it helps you, go for it.

4. Make sure you and your partner / other adults in the house agree on the End Homes

No good one of you buying into the system but the other one chucking it on the chair as usual.  In my relationship, I was the messy one, so my husband used to be in constant despair when I was running around the house searching for my keys/hairbrush/other item lost.  My husband is very tidy and never loses his stuff – but I needed to sort myself out as my problem created a stress and financial cost of buying new items that had been lost to the previous mega piles of our home.

5. Always return items to their End Homes on a daily basis

This one might seem obvious, but for the system to work, you need to clear your surfaces by returning everything on them to their End Homes at the end of the day.  This way, you will always find them.  Now that you have End Homes for everything, clearing up the Daily Debris at the end of the day doesn’t even feel like tidying, and takes less than no time.

So, get started today to avoid losing it (the item), losing it (your mind) and losing it (your precious time) ever again.  Thankfully, we didn’t have to add the £15 replacement roof box key fee to the list of my loses last week, but it was a great reminder of how far I’ve come since those days were the norm, and an isolated reminder of how it used to be in my pre-sorted life.