Memory, it’s said, rejoices in the unusual, the delightful and the socially unacceptable. Does the whereabouts of your keys fit any of these descriptions? No? Well there’s your problem for you.
Almost everyone finds it difficult to recall where they’ve left their keys. There’s no doubt that it’s just much more difficult than recalling where, for instance, you last wrestled a bear or spanked a nun.
And it’s a problem that matters. On average we Brits spend about two minutes a day needlessly searching for these pieces of metal that help us through walls.
It’s worth dwelling a second on this factoid. Two minutes a day adds up, over the course of a typical life, to a whole month of wasted time: that’s enough to learn conversational Georgian.
So what can be done about it?
Well, we need to make the act of placing our keys more memorable. There are two main strategies for doing this.
The first approach (which is also the most therapeutic) is the violent one. Basically, if each time you leave your keys somewhere you imagine an act of extreme violence, you’ll not forget it.
Let’s face it, if you’ve pictured yourself stabbing the area by the toaster with a machete, that’ll make a better landmark for the vision of your memory than merely having dropped some keys there. Imagine yourself stabbing your house keys with that very same machete, right in to the work surface, and you’ll have that memory nailed.
An alternative is to imbue your keys with character and life: this is my preferred gambit. Think of your keys as a living, breathing creature, and you’ll automatically know where they are.
Our brains like living things, it seems, they have more time for them.
Specifically, I deliberately experience my keys as a needy brood of motherless koala-bears on a hoop. When I drop them somewhere, my mind quickly wonders if they’re warm and comfortable, away from predators, in need of some amusing noises from their owner.
The location they’re in thus immediately gains my interest and attention, so I remember it automatically.
It doesn’t take long to pick up a habit like this and it’s enjoyable experimenting to see what works best for you.
What’s clear is that the benefits are immediate: you’ll remember where your keys are, you’ll animate your experience. You may even become fond of your keys. Which is cool.