I was having problems remembering what I’ve done with my car and house keys, although no more than ten times a day. Ahem. I decided to turn to my own fictional creation, Charlotte Adams – professional organizer and amateur sleuth— to help me out. If you’d care to listen in, this is how the help went. Picture the two of us, over a couple of cappuccinos at a table in small coffee shop. Cue music.
MJ: Really, Charlotte, everything is going very well lately, except for the frustration of hunting for my keys. I thought you could help me out with this. It’s a bit embarrassing scrambling through my belongings in the parking lot of the grocery store or when leaving the bank. Like right now, I can’t find them.
|Catch me if you can!|
Charlotte Adams: Of course, the main thing is to always put them in the same place.
MJ: (taking a deep breath) I do know that. And in the house they are always in the same drawer, unless something distracts me on the way in. In that case, they may remain in the door, sometimes overnight, but let’s not dwell.
MJ: Well, it doesn’t happen all that often, but the big problem is my purse. The keys seem to dive to the bottom and then burrow even further, if that is possible.
Charlotte: (averting her head and possibly shaking ever so slightly). Well, actually—
MJ: Are you laughing? It’s not really funny. It adds quite a bit of stress to my—
Charlotte: No, no. I understand. It’s just that the keys are actually inanimate object and—
MJ: Inanimate, shinanimate. I’m telling you they hide.
Charlotte: All right, we’ll just let that go. The keys won’t, um, hide if you always put them in the same place in your purse.
MJ: That’s easy for you to say.
Charlotte: Actually, it was. It will be easier for you if you use a structured handbag with separate sections. I know you have three of them hanging in your closet.
MJ: They’re kind of boring. I don’t really think—
Charlotte: And furthermore, I see that your purse is one of those really unstructured ones. I bet the keys are not the only things burrowing on the bottom. You sure have a lot of stuff in here. Oh my, is that a sandal? Why is there a pound of coffee in here? Really, MJ, an umbrella?
MJ: I love this purse. Victoria gave it to me. And it has all these neat sparkles. So—
|Beloved schlumpy purse, with sparkles|
Charlotte: Fine. Do you have any pouches in your handbag? Oh here’s one. You just choose one safe place and put your keys in that every single time. That’s all there is to it.
MJ: Every single time? Are you serious?
Charlotte: (bristling lightly) Of course.
MJ: I’m not sure if I’ll remember to do that because … what were we talking about?
Charlotte: We all have memory issues. Just make an effort to do it. If you drop them into this … bottomless pit, find them and put them in as soon as you think of it. It will become second nature, in time.
MJ: How much time?
Charlotte: Twenty-one days. That’s how long it takes to have a new positive habit really take hold.
MJ: Twenty-one days? I’m pretty sure that bad habits are instant.
Charlotte: That’s what the current research tells us.
MJ: I’ll be dead of frustration by then. I created you. Couldn’t you try to make things a tiny bit easier?
Charlotte: (standing up) Must run, but really, trust me on this. It doesn’t cost a thing and it works, if you give that new habit a chance. By the way, don’t forget to tell your readers that I not only solve mysteries, but I also give helpful organizing and memory hints at the beginning of each chapter. Tell them about my books. Put the covers up. It won't kill you.
MJ: I suppose it's only fair.
Twenty-one days, later, I am happy to announce that most of the time my keys are in the pouch in my purse (unless I am interrupted). I have to thank Charlotte for that. She may be fictional but she sure comes in handy in helping me out. She’s a bit bossy, but …never mind that. It’s worth it in the end.
How about you? Do you have any memory tips to share? Ways to find wayword keys?
Have you managed any new good habits lately?