Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

April 16, 2014

Mark Maynard: Let’s just forget about it: 04/17/14

Mark Maynard
The Independent

ASHLAND — The older I get, the more forgetful I become. Does that sound familiar?

Well, the truth is, a lot of us forget. A story published in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday said the average person misplaces up to nine items a day and one-third of respondents in a poll said they spend an average of 15 minutes each day looking for items — cellphones, keys and paperwork top the list, according to an online survey of 3,000 published in 2012 by a British insurance company.

I guess this makes me above average.

My hide-and-seek mentality seems to grow with each passing day. Where did I put that paper? What happened to that Sports Illustrated? Everyday forgetfulness doesn’t mean I have early Alzheimer’s or dementia. Studies show memory lapses are typical for all ages.

Sometimes we overload our brains with so much that remembering where you laid down the car keys seems so secondary — until you need to take the car somewhere.

I’m not sure how many times I’ve come into the house still talking on the cellphone, which has become a lifeline for many of us. If there’s one thing you don’t want to lose, that’s it. My cellphone (unfortunately) is never more than a short reach away. When it’s not, I’m in near panic mode.

The key to finding lost items, researchers say, is to try to put your brain in the same mindset it was when you lost it. For instance, you may have been hungry when you came into the house and put the keys down. Think Big Mac as you’re searching.

At our house, we have a key basket where all the keys are supposed to go. It has become a habit for me to drop the keys in the basket. That helps my little brain remember that, oh yes, the keys are in the basket. It kind of simplifies things.

It’s when I don’t put them there that everything goes haywire.

We have only one set of keys for our two cars — a very dangerous maneuver (I tend to live life on the edge). My wife recently lost her keys at an elementary Governor’s Cup competition. She and my sister-in-law retraced her steps probably a dozen times, but the keys never showed up. They went into every room my wife was that day. But no keys. It was almost like they disappeared into thin air.

My wife, a very determined and faithful person, still searches her purse for those keys today. She’s not giving up on the idea the keys will eventually show up, even if it takes some divine intervention. I’m not as optimistic.

The problem with today’s car keys, at least on many cars, is a replacement key isn’t as easy as going to the “key place” and getting one made for $1. Oh no, it may cost you $200 to $300 for a replacement on some cars. I’ve found it easier to have a key basket. That’s all well and good, of course, until something happens like happened to my wife. We don’t lose things on purpose and I’m sure when and if we lose our keys to either of our cars it will be quite the ordeal to get them replaced. But we’ll keep rolling the dice (not the ones hanging off the mirror like I used to have).

One tip that seems to work is to keep repeating whatever it is you’re looking for as you’re looking — “iPhone, iPhone, iPhone.” It might just put your brain in the right mode to find it (of course, you may be able to call your phone unless that cellphone is the only phone in the house).

Also, never rummage while looking because you may cover up the very item you’re looking for. People who come into my office probably shake their head in disgust at my cluttered desk. But I can mentally put my hand on almost anything I need (at least that’s what I tell people).

There are a lot of reasons we lose things — stress, fatigue and multitasking are among the chief ones. A lot of it has to do with our short attention spans. That’s why, in my estimation, it’s better to have a routine for the everyday things we carry.

But don’t take my word for it. I lose things every day. I just hope my mind isn’t one of them.

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.