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Why do some people lose keys and some don’t

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

Why do some people lose keys and some don’t

Scott Miker

Have you ever lost your keys and felt crazy because you just couldn’t find them? You checked all of the logical places but found nothing.

I think we have all lost our keys at one point in our lives. It could be due to a disorganized house, or sharing keys with someone else, but most likely the problem is much simpler than that.

The problem that occurs that causes us to lose our keys is one of standardization. It is as simple as, “where do you always keep your keys?”

If you don’t have a standard and instead place them wherever you feel like placing them, then you don’t have a standard place for them. But if you always keep your keys in the same spot, you are much less likely to lose them.

I have seen that in the past with roommates back in college and after college. Some of them always kept their keys in the same spot. They would always have them on their dresser, or in their pants pocket or always on the key holder by the door.

The ones that lost their keys frequently didn’t have a standard. So sometimes they would keep them on their dresser, sometimes in their pants pocket, sometimes on the key holder by the door, sometimes on the kitchen table, sometimes on the couch, sometimes on the end table.

Every day it became a bit of a mystery where they would toss them. Then in the morning they would have to search the apartment to find where they put them.

As someone who studies habits, this is interesting to me. They built up habits around their keys just as everyone else. The only real difference is that their habit is to just toss them wherever is convenient at the time instead of always putting them in the same spot.

While this may not seem interesting to most people, to me it is fascinating and insight can be gained and then used in other areas of our lives.

If we are trying to form positive habits and routines, randomness is our enemy. If we don’t have a standard and a concrete way of doing something, we will have a harder time forming a good habit.

Instead our habit will be haphazard. We will do it sometimes and not do it sometimes. This means that it won’t form into a new concrete action that is taken every time we face the same situation.

So if we want to start working out, it is better to have a standard. Have a set time of the day to work out and do it every day. This is better than saying that you will just work out when you feel like it or when you have time.

If we want to start budgeting our money it is better to develop a standard budget with an emergency account instead of just hoping that we will be able to just cut back our spending without any specifics or detail around how we are going to do that.

Most people skip the important step of standardization. Even if you initially standardize your routine and it isn’t perfect, setting the standard means that you will be better off than trying to chase the perfect steps each time.

I’ve learned this the hard way. While I never had issues with losing my keys, I often found myself setting goals and not doing the important step of standardizing my current ways of doing things. But since, I’ve learned that the simple way to not lose your keys (or to accomplish almost any goal) is to standardize what you do and do it every time. The habit forms and you don’t have to guess what to do or where to look, it just becomes natural and you always know right where to look to find your keys.