Lost and Found: Homelessness at Home


“I’ve been looking for that!” I hear it all the time. Never fails, as I’m working with a client and we are uncovering piles, opening drawers, and busting open boxes;  there is a constant chorus of , “I’ve been looking for that!” with the occasional, “I forgot I had that!” and my favorite, “Oops, I just bought one of these.”

How does this happen? How did the meat thermometer end up in the garage? Or your license plate renewal wind up in the kid’s closet? Who put the CD of your wedding in the Tupperware drawer? You did; or someone else in your home.

We all know these things don’t grow legs and move around. We put them where they are usually in a fit of trying to hide the clutter that is consuming the room. Then we forget where we put them or we consider them lost and run out to buy another one. And the cycle begins again.




There’s a lot of “stuff” in the average home. Just start packing to move and you’ll quickly realize how much. It’s easy to see how things get misplaced, lost and even disappear. You need a system and a process to keep it all under control. But the system has to be simple; you’re busy, the kids are trainable but not trained, and you don’t know where to start.

You don’t start in a place. You start in a time. You start now.

When you walk through a room and you see items that don’t belong there; you have discovered the homeless problem in your own home. The comb doesn’t live on the mantel but there it is. Where does it live? In your daughter’s bathroom? Should you put it there? Well, it should be there but you may not be the right one to take it to its home. Perhaps, your daughter needs to help with the homeless problem.

Grab a bag, box, or basket and put the comb in it. As you move through the house there will be other homeless items belonging to this same person; a shoe, a sock, a book, a CD. Put them all in the basket. This is now the home you have created for her homeless items. She then needs to give them a home of her choosing. That’s how you end homelessness in your home.

Apply this process to everyone in your home. Everyone gets a homeless basket, even you. Stuff migrates through a home in much the same way as dust. Before you know it it’s everywhere. Contain the clutter. By having a place to put everything you will virtually eliminate the lost and misplaced items that turn into clutter.

The homeless basket is a temporary holding zone until the items get to their final resting place, their home. The basket provides a way to sort; his, hers, theirs, kitchen, outside, garage, etc. Many of us put stuff on the stairs so we remember to grab it on our next trip up. It’s the same principal. Put it where you know you will be reminded to get it back to its proper home.

Parents, this is great for kids. They can take their basket and put it in their room and hopefully they put the items away. It may take a while but eventually they will learn that it is easier to put things away as you go then to be handed a basket full of “stuff” that needs to be dealt with. I can hear it now, “Is your homelessness - work done?”

This system divides the clutter clean-up evenly among the dwellers. If someone is good at putting their stuff away then they won’t have much of a homeless problem but for the drop-n-go in the family they will have a nice basket of homelessness to figure out.

How much time do you spend looking for something that is not where it belongs? How much money do you spend replacing things you can’t find? How much energy do you waste reminding people to “pick-up and put away” their stuff? Stop wasting your time, money, and voice…end homelessness NOW!

The principle is simple; a home for everything and everything in a home. Combs don’t belong on mantels, meat thermometers should be in the kitchen and license plate renewals need to be renewed not stored. Create a system in your home that helps the strays find their way home. It’s your home. You are the boss.

Create more room for life.


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