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The Good News Is That I Haven’t Lost My Keys

Unlike a lot of people with ADHD, I don’t often lose my keys. My keys are almost always in one of two places: by my door (if I’m home) or in my pocket (if I’m not home).

So that’s the good news.

KeysThe bad news pertains to my wallet, my phone and my messenger bag. Lately, I’ve been on an incredible streak of leaving these things in public places.

Fortunately, I’ve also been on a streak of pretty good luck, so temporarily losing these things hasn’t turned into permanently losing them so far. Rather, I’ve returned to find that they’ve been tucked away behind the counter by a helpful barista or are miraculously sitting untouched in the exact place where I left them.

Occasionally, someone will even catch my mistake as it’s happening. Last week I had a shopkeeper politely inform me that I was leaving without my bag. If I were rich, I’d hire someone to follow me around 24/7 and tap me on the shoulder whenever I was leaving something in a public place.

I’m endlessly creative in my ability to find new ways of losing things, but the general theme is that I’ll set something down and not pick it back up. For example, I’ll put my wallet down to count out change, then I’ll thank whoever’s working the register and march out the door – without my wallet, naturally.

But the worst isn’t losing things in public places – it’s not taking things with me when I leave to begin with. If I don’t take my phone with me when I leave, I don’t necessarily know that my phone is still at home. I’ll assume I left it somewhere public, then go through my head trying to figure out where that could be. It can make for an excitement- and anticipation-filled day until I get the chance to return home again.

Still, there are a few things that help me cut my losses and avoid disaster.

The first is that I’ve developed an obsessive habit of checking my pockets all the time. I’ll be walking down the street and the thought will pop into my head: “Do I still have my phone and my wallet?”

This isn’t an intentional coping strategy I created for dealing with my tendency to misplace things. Rather, it’s an anxious habit that spontaneously arose after I was separated from my wallet one too many times.

The other thing that helps is always keeping my phone and wallet in different pockets. Once again, not really a deliberate coping strategy, just something that’s more convenient than trying to cram them in the same pocket, but it has the added benefit of making it less likely that I’ll lose both my wallet and my phone in one fell sweep. Although I won’t say it totally eliminates the possibility – after all, I don’t want to jinx myself when luck is basically the only reason I haven’t had to buy a new phone and cancel my credit card multiple times in the last month!

Unfortunately, this is more an ADHD confessional than a “practical tips for coping with ADHD” post. The best way I know of to deal with this tendency of leaving things is public places is to hope for the best and realize that the worst-case scenario probably isn’t catastrophic, just tedious. Although tedium and catastrophe can sometimes be hard to tell apart when you have ADHD!

What have you lost? Any tips on how to not lose things? I’m asking for a friend.

Image: Brakkee

The Good News Is That I Haven’t Lost My Keys

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on education, learning disabilities and technology. He received his B.A. in 2014 and was diagnosed with ADHD at the beginning of his college studies. Neil also works for a music education non-profit and hopes to help create an education system that can better serve students with ADHD.

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2016). The Good News Is That I Haven’t Lost My Keys. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 24, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Aug 2016
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