We’ve all been in the same situation. You’re rushing to get ready for work, you’ve barely got enough time to make your morning meeting, and at the worst possible moment you realize you have no idea where you put your car keys.
You search all the usual places – your bedside table, the bowl by the front door, your coat pockets – but you can’t find them anywhere. Maybe you start looking in less likely places such as the bath or the cat litter tray but you know it’s hopeless. Panic has now set in and you start to wonder if your keys are lost for good.
What do you do in this situation?
Research shows that the average person spends around fifteen minutes of every day looking for misplaced items, which equates to around 2.5 days per year. We also lose up to nine items a day. These are often things like documents, wallets, purses, and of course our phones. But keys are always at the top of this list. Probably because they’re so small and we always tend to carry them with us and leave them in different places after each use.
But you can’t afford to lose your car keys. You need your vehicle to get around, whether it’s for work, household errands or medical appointments, and the consequences of a missing set of keys could range from inconvenient to disastrous, depending on the circumstances.
So if you are the type of person who regularly misplaces your belongings, don’t worry. There are some tried and tested techniques to help you find small, missing items that could get you out of trouble. By following these five tips, you’ll be able to track down your misplaced car keys and make sure you never lose them again.
The first thing most people do when they realize they’ve lost something important is to panic. But getting agitated never solves anything, and may make the situation worse. Although it may help you let off some steam and vent your anger, it’s not going to do anything to aid the search. As soon as you find yourself in this situation, make a conscious effort to take a few deep breaths and think about a plan of action.
Once you’ve taken a few seconds to compose yourself, check the area again. It’s possible they are just lying under some junk mail and hidden out of sight. The writer Professor Solomon postulates that most lost objects will generally be found within an 18-inch radius of their usual spot – an area he describes as The Eureka Zone. If you are panicking, you might move on too fast and miss them, so make sure you do a thorough inspection of this area before moving on to the next part of the search.
It may sound like your parents giving you advice, but the best way to track down a missing item is to think back to where you last saw it. Go back in your mind to the last time you used your car keys. Perhaps it was when you drove back from home last night, or when you went to the shops this morning.
Try to remember what happened when you walked back through the door that might have led to your keys being missing from their usual location. Maybe you were distracted by a screaming child as you walked through the door, or you had to rush into the kitchen to put the shopping in the fridge. This will enable you to retrace your steps and give you some clues as to where your keys might be. You could have absentmindedly left them in your shopping bag or put them in the fridge by mistake!
Talk to yourself
It might sound strange, but hearing the sound of your own voice could help you find those lost car keys next time. Research has shown that saying the name of a lost item can help you find it more easily. The science behind this claims that speaking these words out loud can activate visual properties in the brain that help you locate objects based on what they look like.
So if you’re late for work and hunting around on your messy desk, try saying “car keys” out light and they may just appear in front of you. At best, you will get to work on time as a result. And at worst, you might just look a little silly.
Get a replacement
If you have searched every nook and cranny of your home and you absolutely cannot find them, you may need to get a replacement key. Ideally, you would already have a spare but often second hand cars only come with one key, or maybe you already lost the original. There are plenty of automotive locksmiths who can provide a transponder key replacement, possibly on the very same day.
Prevention is key
Once you have found your keys and the emergency has been avoided, the best thing you can do is take steps to prevent this from happening again. The easiest solution is to have a fixed place for your keys, to which they should always be returned after use. This could be a hook on the wall or a key bowl by the front door. However, this isn’t always foolproof
Having a clutter-free home will help shorten your search next time you lose an item, so try to keep things neat and tidy. And you should always make sure you have a spare for emergencies, so it is worth spending a bit of money to get your key cloned.
But the most effective course of action, and one that will guarantee you never lose your keys again, is to add a tracker to your keys. A smart key finder is a small device that attaches to any keyring and can be linked up to your phone. Whenever you misplace them, you just open up the app and it will tell you exactly where to find your missing car keys.