Keep a "WHERE Is It" File

You can make life much easier for yourself with a few personally curated documents, like keeping a canonical address book.

Another extremely useful document is what I (literally) call my “?WHERE Is It?!??” file.

It’s really just a single document. It is a great way to track important things that get moved around. It’s also great for tracking things that you rarely need, but when you need them, you NEED them.

Unlike Squirrels, We Do Not Have to Hunt for Important Things

You know how squirrels hide nuts? They don’t necessarily remember where they hide individual nuts. They run around and hide nuts in places that squirrels think are good; and then they run around and look for nuts in places where a squirrel would be likely to hide them.

So Squirrel A might hide a nut on my front porch (happens every year); and Squirrel B might be scrabbling around for nuts a few months later, and discover the nut that Squirrel A hid. All the squirrels are racing around, looking for nuts, in places that squirrels would likely hide nuts. But they’re not necessarily finding the ones they originally hid. It works for them, but if squirrels could write, they might keep “WHERE Is It” files.

A “WHERE Is It” file allows you to go straight to the right nut, instead of racing around looking in all the places you or someone else in the household might have put something important.

You Can’t Buy an Air Tag For Everything

That would get expensive, fast!

A “WHERE Is It” file is excellent for keeping track of things that get moved around, or that have several possible logical locations.

For example: I bought a yearly pass to our state parks, so we don’t have to pay a fee every time we go for a hike. They sent me a hang tag to display in our front windshield. So. WHERE is it??

The hang tag COULD logically go in the glove compartment of my car, or my husband’s car; I decided in the end to store it in my hiking backpack. We’ll always take the backpack; but we don’t always take the same car.

So, I wrote this note in my “WHERE Is It” file: “hang tag for state parks — in Anna’s hiking backpack”

Here are some other things I keep track of, in my “?WHERE Is It?!??” file (mine has lots of expressive punctuation in the name, because I get so irate when I can’t find something… perhaps you are more sanguine about such things).

  • the hang tag for visiting state parks
  • spare keys to car, house
  • hospital badge
  • COVID-19 vaccine card
  • pills for the cat

The Laws of Keeping a “WHERE Is It” File

Like the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, there are commandments around operating your “WHERE Is It” file:

  • Thou shalt keep one “WHERE Is It” file; and only ONE, shalt thou keep. One shall be the number thou shalt keep, and the number of the “WHERE is it” file shall be one. No more. No less. (Five is right out.)
  • Keep it in a place and format where you will easily be able to update it. Sometimes you might move an item or document or loan it to someone; update your “WHERE Is It” file with a quick note about its current location.
  • Be sure to put your “WHERE Is It” file somewhere where you will find reliably it again.

This is one document that I keep electronically on a notes app, that syncs to multiple devices. (I do this because I have literally four separate offices I work from, and I do not want to carry one paper file with me, all the time.)

But you could also keep a dedicated “WHERE Is It” pocket notebook that you update as you move things around.

I have found this document relieves a great deal of stress for me.

We don’t have to be like squirrels, after all.

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