Craft By Zen

3 min read

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The Placement Problem

Jear bear letters admission failure 7
Jear bear letters admission failure 7

Lost Keys

In the frantic rush of the morning, I’m scrambling many things. I’ve got to shower, eat breakfast, work-out, gather my things for work. In this scramble I inevitably ask myself, “where are my keys?”. If I was wise, they would be in my bag. If I was unwise, I start my descent into madness.

In my key’s perspective, it’s a journey through my room. First, they’ll be in my pocket, ready to open a door. Then they will be on my work table, eager to see me when I’m ready to leave. Then they’ll be on top of the drawer because I’m changing my pants. Then they’ll be god knows where because I was in the middle of another activity and decided to place them wherever was convenient. Then I’ll spend an inextricable amount of time looking for them.

It’s times like these I feel helpless to my lack of coordination. I hate my forgetfulness because I lack the foresight to place things in proper places. My keys have a place in my bag, and should always be there. And for the scenario where I don’t bring my bag, it should be in my pocket. But therein lies the problem. If I know I won’t bring my bag, where do I place my keys when I change my pants?

A System

When I was working in manufacturing, we implemented a 5 step program to achieving lean manufacturing. One of those steps was setting things in place. In one scenario, say you use a hammer. You take the hammer from its proper placement, use it for a bit, then place it back. To make things easier, one of our technicians placed an outline of a hammer so it is easy to place the hammer in its proper place. The alternative is placing the hammer wherever, which would be harder for the next person who wants to use the hammer.

With this practice, I should be able to implement it in my personal life. However, I am rarely open to the idea of changing my space. This is prompted by a stubborn attitude that I should remember everything. Added to that, I find moving things around my room to be a chore. And it’s all over when I consider something to be a chore because I’ll try to wiggle out of it any way I can.

Applied System

Back to they keys. Because I lack a system to place my keys in the same place for every scenario, I find it difficult to find them when I’ve placed them in a spot at the time I thought was memorable. I’ve thought about a cubby, or a bowl, but haven’t acted on it. I’m skeptic it works for me.

Question for those readers. Do you follow a system for placing your things at home. How do you remember where you put your things? Does your system cover all scenarios?


I’ll be honest. After drafting this letter, I’m going to give the bowl a try. At least I can cross it off my list if it really doesn’t work. Then it’s back to the drawing board.