July 2, 2009 5:22 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for recommendations for some sort of gadget that'll help prevent my boyfriend from losing stuff. Every system or mindhack we've devised for helping my boyfriend keep track of his stuff has failed. Now I want microchips to help. Here's my vision...

Usually, he only misplaces his keys OR his phone OR his wallet, not all at once. Ideally, he could have a small receiver/monitor that he could keep in his pocket or affix to one of these devices. We'd attach small electronic tags to the other devices. If the monitor were separated from one of the devices by ten or twenty feet, it would alarm.

This product claims to meet the requirements, but I'm skeptical without seeing any reviews or manufacturer info.

This is a common enough problem that there has to be a well-regarded technological answer to it, right? Right?
posted by mthomps00 to Technology (20 answers total)
This one has good reviews.
posted by milkrate at 5:33 PM on July 2, 2009

What about making it an alarm system, instead? You could affix these to said devices, and then cable-lock the keyfob to something?
posted by ellF at 5:35 PM on July 2, 2009

Alternatively to mattdidthat's advice, can he somehow attach keys to wallet to phone? He probably uses at least one of them frequently enough that he would notice quickly if the pile as a whole were missing.

This is my method-- but I'm a girl and so carry a purse with no second thoughts. I need at least one thing in there often enough that I notice right quick if I've left it behind (and the keys are actually hooked into the purse by biner, not just floating loose). Maybe your guy should rock the manpurse.

If you do go with an electronic method, make sure whatever you use doesn't burn up batteries too quickly; it would be pretty unfortunate if the system only lasts a short while especially if the boyfriend grows reliant on it.
posted by nat at 6:22 PM on July 2, 2009

Piggybacking on mattdidthat, here's what I did when I lived in the dorms.

We'd have to pay to get the RAs to open the door for us. Stupid, but it's how the hall council made most of it's money. I keep myself from paying I made a nice colorful sign that said "Don't forget your keys dumbass". I also got into the habit of patting my pickets every time I left the room.

Force him to have a place for everything. That way when he loses it he knows where to find it again. The best place for me has been by the door or on the top of the pile of my desk for keys and wallet. You shouldn't need them anywhere else in the house. The phone is a bit tougher though since you can use it where ever.

But the most important thing is to have him not leave until he knows he has everything. Those replacement costs become even more effective when he misses out on a job interview or something similar because he couldn't find something.
posted by theichibun at 6:30 PM on July 2, 2009

I'm always "losing" stuff like coffee cups or paperwork because I set it down for a few minutes to look something up in a book or fill out some other paperwork or what-have-you. Then I get up and walk away without remembering to pick up what I brought with me. That usually leads to the "where was the last time I know I had it" game. I hate that game. Here's how I cut that down drastically:

He could get disciplined about keeping his stuff together and in a standard location. That means you can't put something down here for just a second, you have to put it in its place. That's not always practical, so for the unusual times he could keep a moleskine in his back pocket. Make a proper storage exceptions log for each occasion of putting something in an unusual place, with the item and location. It makes a handy "lost and found" list later. In practice, just the act of writing that down makes you remember without looking it up.

At home, you could make it a bit easier by putting a little basket in each room. He has to put stuff in the basket, not on the end table, couch, coffee table, book shelf, etc. He might still walk off without his stuff, but it really cuts down on the search space - you just look in the basket in each room until you find the right one.

Definitely pre-stage for planned trips out - get the keys, wallet, etc. ready the night before having to go to work, for example. You may still have to search for something, but at least it's while you have plenty of time, and not when you're late for work.
posted by ctmf at 6:32 PM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

How old is this guy? If he's under 30, he can be trained to leave the house with all the things he needs, as well as return with them. If he's reliant on you (or some gadget) then he's basically just forestalling adulthood on a sort of fundamental level. Don't indulge that.

If he's decades into adulthood, then probably nothing will help.
posted by hermitosis at 6:53 PM on July 2, 2009

How will he deal with losing the locator gadget?

I know you say you've tried all the mindhacks, but he's going to have to figure out a way to deal.

I see three options:
1. Overcome the problem.
2. Accept the problem.
3. Get a massive piercing with a carabiner through it to permanently affix his stuff to his person.

Adding a gadget simply adds one more thing to be misplaced.
posted by adamrice at 7:12 PM on July 2, 2009

The Sharper Image used to carry something like that, IIRC. Of course, the Sharper Image doesn't really exist any more either. Oh, it looks like you can find it on ebay for a price.

Has he exhausted the low tech options? Can he get a chain for his wallet that would attach to his belt? a holster for his phone? a lanyard or carabiner for his keys? Or maybe there is a way to attach everything all together and call the cell phone when they are misplaced?
posted by oceano at 7:47 PM on July 2, 2009

My mindhack is this:

Keep a tray as close to the door as possible and empty my pockets into it immediately upon entering the house.

When I leave the house, count the number of items I'm putting into my pocket. Usually that number is 3 (cellphone, wallet, phone). Whenever I stand up, I do a quick pocket count to make sure I didn't leave anything behind.
posted by Laen at 7:57 PM on July 2, 2009

I do the exact same thing Laen does.

Habitual pocket pats is the key.
posted by Precision at 8:20 PM on July 2, 2009

I do what Laen and Precision do: started keeping those things that I constantly lost in one assigned place. Not a perfect solution, as I still do sometimes misplace the keys and cell phone, but it works most of the time. Plus, I printed up multiple keys and always have a set lying around to grab. And finding the cell? That's pretty much the main use of our landline these days.

I would disagree with the notion that it's always best to change bad behaviors rather than find a way around them. I remember I constantly paid bills late, and every month I would think, "What's wrong with me? In theory it should be really simple to write the check, stamp the envelope, and drop it in the mail." And yet, time and again I'd be paying late fees, or worse, dealing with collection agencies. Then: online bill pay. Problem solved. So, find what works for you and go with it. If it's a dish by the door, so be it. If you need alarms and chips and it makes the problem even 90% better, I say go with it.
posted by JenMarie at 10:38 PM on July 2, 2009

nthing pocket checks.

It does help a lot to make these items as small as reasonably possible, so that you don't have a tendency to take them out of your pockets when you're lounging. I'm down to ~6 loose cards, a wad of cash, one key (two if I'm driving somewhere), and an iPhone without a bulky case. (iPhone 3.0 is the technological solution to losing that, with its remote locator function.)
posted by trevyn at 10:45 PM on July 2, 2009

Usually that number is 3 (cellphone, wallet, phone).

Big pockets, eh?

My routine: Cellphone gets plugged in right when I get home. iPod gets plugged in right when I get home. Wallet and keys go next to them every time I get home. Once I forced myself to do it for a while it just became second nature, like I'm not really home until I've put everything in its spot.
posted by clorox at 1:12 AM on July 3, 2009

I just keep multiple copies of everything. I have five garage door openers, one for the car, one for my motorcycle jacket, one for the basket by the front door, one for the drawer in the kitchen, and one...well, if I'm being honest, I can't remember where the fifth is. But it'll turn up sooner or later.

Similarly, I keep my work ID in my motorcycle jacket pocket, and I store that jacket in my car. That way, no matter which vehicle I take to work, I'll always have my ID (which I then keep on a lanyard.)

I also have a car with keyless entry. You can see the benefit there; if the keys never have to leave my pocket, I never have to wonder where they are.

The point being, if you don't have to carry them around or (if you do carry them) leave them behind, you'll always have what you need. Think of it as investing in the replacement costs up front. Assuming you choose to follow the advice of most here (who seem convinced the gadget advice you're asking for isn't what will help you) this approach has always worked for me.
posted by davejay at 1:21 AM on July 3, 2009

I also have at least five tape measures. It appears to be a critical mass, as when I only had four I could never find one, and now I have no trouble.
posted by davejay at 1:22 AM on July 3, 2009

I suggest you read Freud's "The Psychology of Errors."
posted by RichardS at 9:11 AM on July 3, 2009

Everyone who is stating that he needs to grow up really need to calm down with the moralizing. And the psychoanalysis. Really?

Check out some ADD resources/forums on the internet--they usually have great tips and might have some product recommedations.
posted by kathrineg at 10:39 AM on July 3, 2009

Lots of good advice upthread but thought I'd point out another "mindhack" that I use. I'm constantly losing my glasses in the house. Occasionally, when I remember to do this, as I set them down someplace I'll imagine them exploding -- fire, smoke, a big bang. Or melting... all over the nightstand. I usually have no trouble finding them later.
posted by amanda at 10:59 AM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

I agree with those who suggest a tray by the door (for the keys, wallet, cell, etc.) and designating specific areas where his other frequently misplaced things should be kept. Gadgets will not save him if he has poor organization habits. I ought to know; I grew up in a family where everyone would always lose their things and I was the one who remembered and kept track of lost items. It was natural for me to assume this same role in my other relationships, including my current one with my husband. He stopped "losing" his things after I stopped "helping" him find them. Eventually. ;)
posted by LuckySeven~ at 3:30 PM on July 3, 2009

Some things, like coffee mug or keys, can be a bright distinctive color. Teevee clickers should be blaze orange, for example. I put blaze orange marking tape on some things, and am more easily able to find them. Before leaving the house, I pause, and check for "phone, keys, wallet" out loud. It helps me remember them, and later verifies in my mind that I had them when I left the house. Mobile phone and keys should have the name and office address on them, in case they are found by someone who believes they are helpful, but unable to get my damn cell phone to the lost & found(yep, still bitter). Not the home address on the house keys, right? Every time, the cell phone goes in the same pocket. same with keys. Every time, credit card goes back in the wallet, not the pocket, not the dashboard. Still working on that one.
posted by theora55 at 2:41 PM on July 4, 2009

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