My clients hear that question all the time.

When they complain about the backpacks plopped in the middle of the kitchen floor, or the car keys that are never found when needed, or the pile of missing mail from two days ago…whether its backpacks, keys, or the incoming mail – whatever it is – I ask, “Where should that item live? Where is its home? We know where it doesn’t belong – where does it belong?”

This question is usually met with an eerie silence. That’s the problem in a nutshell, folks: you can’t put something away if it doesn’t have a home.

So: establishing a home is step one. The right spot should be logical, practical, and doable. Your child can’t slide a backpack into a cubby that’s four feet above her head, and it doesn’t make sense to walk through three rooms of the house to put away your car keys.Keys on hooks by the door Remember: logical, practical, and doable.

Step two is developing the habit of actually putting the item where it belongs, and that takes time. Have faith – we humans are smart cookies. We can be trained to establish new routines so that, over time, hanging keys on a hook by the garage door will become a habit. Teach your child that the backpack goes on a reachable peg every day when she comes in from school. Put the incoming mail in that one designated spot so you can find it when you’re ready to process it, and in a matter of weeks, maybe even days, some common daily frustrations will actually be eliminated by answering that one simple question: Where should it live?



5 Thoughts on “Where should it live?

  1. Great question! And now that you mention it, the root of my “I can’t find anything twice” problem. Thanks for the tip – I shall begin finding homes for all my homeless things!

  2. J.Shaner on October 25, 2013 at 12:24 am said:

    Homes for the homeless – love it! Thanks, Maze, and good luck!

  3. I have already got the keys on a hook by the door down pat. If I ever go there and find they are not there, I check my pocket, and there they are, usually!

    However when my head goes wrong I can get into big problems. I once put my keys on the coathook, under my coat, and hot damn, if that wasn’t a panicky twenty minutes or more when I went to go out again.

  4. Sue Knott on January 3, 2015 at 6:02 pm said:

    My problem is making homes that don’t have everything else falling all over the place when you access one of the “residents.

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