ADHD Misplacing Things

ADHD Misplacing Things

How often do you find yourself on a wild hunt for your car keys or reading glasses? If it's a regular scenario, take comfort in knowing it's a shared experience among many adults with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). When we lose things, it’s more than just a fleeting annoyance - it's often an echo of ADHD symptoms that many of us face. Ready to dive into understanding and overcoming this aspect of ADHD? Let's unravel the mystery together!

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Always Losing Your Phone or Car Keys? This Might Be Why.

Once, on a calm Sunday morning, my house turned into a war zone as a frantic search for my keys and some important papers ensued. As someone with adult ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), this wasn't the first time, and certainly not the last. The ticking clock seemed to mock me as minutes turned into hours, with every drawer opened, the content of every pocket in the house checked, and every conceivable place where keys and papers might hide were explored. 

Now, losing a set of keys or important papers may seem trivial to some, but when these incidents become a regular feature in life, they showcase a pattern. This tendency underscores the everyday struggles faced by people with ADHD - and let me tell you, it's incredibly irritating for not just us but many of those around us. 😠

In this article, we'll delve into the core ADHD symptoms and experiences that often lead to these situations. From forgetfulness to easily getting distracted, we will explore how these traits play a significant role in misplacing belongings and, more importantly, how to develop coping strategies to stay on top of them. 

So, what's the most obvious culprit to begin with? Why forgetfulness, of course! 😉

The Forgetfulness Factor

Forgetfulness, often seen as an inconvenient trait, is much more than just a sudden lapse in memory for adults with ADHD. Imagine a scenario where you're running late for an important meeting, and just when you're ready to dash out the door, your keys decide to play hide-and-seek. It's not just about misplaced keys; it's about the cascade of stress and self-doubt that follows. This scenario might seem like an exaggeration to some, but for people with ADHD, it's a daily reality. 😤

Back when I was a freelance writer, I was up against a strict deadline. As I settled down to work, I realized my glasses were nowhere to be found. The following 30 minutes were spent in a frantic search, each passing moment amplifying the pressure to meet the deadline. By the time I found the glasses nestled between the couch cushions, the stress had already taken its toll, and my focus was even more scattered than before. 🤯

The everyday impact of forgetfulness extends beyond just losing things. It trickles down into relationships, work commitments, and personal wellbeing. Each forgotten item, missed deadline, or overlooked responsibility can snowball into an overwhelming feeling of self-criticism and shame. 😞

Getting Easily Distracted

Navigating through a day with ADHD often feels like your attention is being pulled in a million different directions. For example, I often find myself on a hunt for my mobile phone. One moment, it's in my hand, and the next, it's on the kitchen counter. 📲

Now, the counter itself isn't the problem, but the trouble focusing and resisting the distractions are. They pull me away, causing me to lose track of where I've put my phone, which means I spend ages looking for my phone as soon as I've lost interest in whatever distracted me in the first place. 🙄

For those of us with ADHD, getting so easily distracted often means that items we hold one minute could end up misplaced the next. This distractibility doesn't only impact us on a personal level, but it extends to our surroundings, making the simple act of keeping tabs on our possessions a daily headache. 🤦

Being Disorganized

Keeping things organized can be challenging for many of us with ADHD - clutter is a daily reality for some, as is struggling to stay on top of chores despite our best intentions. 

I once had a bright idea to have an 'everything' drawer for the things I needed to quickly reach for. But over time, it became a 'mystery' drawer - all sorts of things ended up there. Receipts, random phone chargers - basically, anything that didn't have a place, went in my 'everything' drawer. 🤦What's even more annoying is that even when I get a new hyperfocus or special interest and impulse buy something for it, it's often lost within a few days of even having it. 

The spots we choose for our items seem to be in a perpetual game of musical chairs, shifting each time our focus flits elsewhere. Staying organized turns into an (annoying) game with ever-changing rules. The culprit behind this is object permanence, or in our case, the lack of it. 😆Object permanence refers to the brain's ability to understand that objects continue to exist even when out of sight. But for us, out of sight often means out of mind. So, when our keys are not in their usual haunt, they've vanished into thin air, only to resurface in the most bizarre places.

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Anxiety and Overwhelm

When it comes to our habit of losing stuff, anxiety tends to be part of one long, vicious cycle. 😬

ADHD puts us at a natural predisposition for struggling with anxiety, but the chaos of losing things sets the stage for stress. Take, for example, the mini heart attack I experience when I think I've lost my phone while out and about. It's a full-blown panic episode that can easily ruin the rest of the day, even when I find it at the bottom of my bag, where it always is.

My heightened panic around losing my things also leads to what I call 'the checking ritual.' I find myself patting down pockets, rifling through bags repeatedly to ensure everything is right where it should be. Although it sounds simple, this constant checking can feel like a battle against myself - and honestly, it's pretty exhausting, especially when doing something stressful like getting a flight. 🥵

Now, introduce the concept of ADHD overwhelm into this mix, and you've got a recipe for a pretty challenging day. Overwhelm often springs from the unending stream of thoughts, impulsivity, and the constant gear-shift between tasks that come with ADHD. When we're overwhelmed, the likelihood of losing things multiplies. The brain is already in a whirlwind, and managing our belongings feels like trying to hold water in our hands - gone before we know it. 

Hacking Our ADHD Brain: Tips on Preventing Misplacing Things

Living with ADHD might have its share of rollercoasters. Still, it's crucial to remember that we also have many strengths and capabilities that set us apart, from our unique perspective on life to our ability to think outside the box.

Despite this, I'm the first to admit that I'm still very much a person who is a work in progress, continually exploring treatments and therapies to navigate my ADHD journey better. The game of hide-and-seek with my belongings might be an annoying one, but it's spurred me to find some tricks to outsmart and overcome this trait. 

Here are a few of the strategies that I rely on. ⬇️

Breathe Through The Panic

If you find yourself panicking when reaching for a lost item, remember to take a deep breath. Overwhelm only muddles our vision, and a calm mind can spot what a frantic one will miss.

Stick To The Retrace Routine

A classic that never fails - retracing your steps can jog your memory and lead you right to your misplaced item. When on a search mission, a systematic approach is more productive than a frantic search - go space by space, room by room, and you'll save time and sanity. 😂

Use Designated Places

Avoiding unique hiding spots and keeping your essentials in plain sight can save the day. Designate one container for daily use items; keeping a small bowl or plate in the same place such as on the dining table works wonders. Alternatively, you could designate a 'drop zone' for essential things - some people use a special place by the front door for their keys, wallet, or any other essential items they need quick access to. 

Use Labels & Color Code Systems

Embrace color-coded labels to create visual cues. It's a fun and functional way to keep things organized. Label drawers, wardrobe sections, cabinets - impulse buying a label maker might benefit you here. 😜

Try Tech-Savvy Tracking

Leverage technology to keep tabs on your stuff. Applications like Evernote can be your digital assistant for keeping track of important documents and notes. At the same time, GPS-enabled or alarm-based devices can play a part in tracking your valuables. Attach Apple tags to your often misplaced items like keys or wallets, and let your phone play detective. No more hide and seek with your belongings! 👍

Reach Out

If the struggle continues, don't hesitate to seek social support or professional help. Connecting with supportive communities like the Attention Deficit Disorder Association and exploring treatment options with a professional can help empower you to get on top of your symptoms. Remember, every step towards better management is a victory in the ADHD journey. 💪


Living with ADHD is indeed a multi-faceted experience, one of which is the knack for misplacing items. It might feel like a minor issue to some, but the impact of this on our daily lives can have pretty significant consequences, stirring up feelings of frustration and self-doubt. 😥

It's essential to remember, though, that this isn't a reflection of who we are but rather a part of the ADHD journey. It doesn't define us. And while the path of managing adult ADHD symptoms might have its thorns, it's manageable with the correct set of tools and support. 🥰

Luckily, it's not all doom and gloom. There's plenty of help out there, including a community of people who share the same struggles as you. By connecting online with communities such as the Attention Deficit Disorder Association, you can find a sense of understanding and shared experiences that are truly invaluable. There's comfort in knowing you're not alone. 💕

Seeking professional guidance and exploring treatment options can also make a huge difference. Sometimes, we don't know how much of our struggles were actually related to our diagnosis until we are receiving the proper treatment for it. It's about finding what works for you, whether medication, therapy or ADHD-friendly organizational hacks. 

And yes, there will be days when it feels like your keys have grown legs or it seems like your phone has simply vanished into thin air. But with every found item, every successful day of keeping track of your essentials, and every shared laugh over a lost remote control, we inch closer to managing the symptoms of ADHD. 🤗

So, whether you've been navigating adult ADHD for a while or are just starting on this journey post-ADHD diagnosis, remember, there's a wealth of support and a community rooting for you. 🙌

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ADHD and Misplacing Things: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is losing things a symptom of ADHD?

Yes, losing things is common among individuals with ADHD. This can often be attributed to challenges with focus and attention, which are hallmark symptoms of ADHD. It's a shared experience among adults and children with ADHD alike.

What is object permanence ADHD?

Object permanence in the context of ADHD refers to the difficulty people with ADHD might have in keeping a mental image or understanding of where items are once they are out of sight. This concept often comes into play when individuals misplace items and struggle to recall where they've placed them.

What causes forgetfulness in ADHD?

Forgetfulness in ADHD can be caused by various factors, including difficulty in paying attention, hyperactivity, and the co-occurring mental health conditions that are often seen in adult patients with ADHD. It's essential to consult with a health professional for a thorough understanding and appropriate diagnosis. Seeking support through ADHD communities can also provide insights into managing forgetfulness and other ADHD symptoms.

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