Secret of Adulthood: If You Can’t Find Something, Clean Up.

Further Secrets of Adulthood:


I’m constantly amazed by the effectiveness of this principle. Even when I don’t find what I’m looking for at that moment, I always find other things that have gone missing. It always happens.

If you’d like to read more along these lines, check out Happier at Home, the chapter on “possessions.”

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  • I guess this is a good sign for me because I never lose anything. 🙂

  • peninith1

    LOVE this secret. I used to sometimes do this instead of freaking out. Now that you have made me more aware, I CONSCIOUSLY do this when I misplace something, and it is a really nice, positive way to go about looking for things. Also of course I try a little harder to have specific places for things so that they don’t get lost in the first place . . . but, that is a work in progress!

  • Raivengreenberg

    And in the process of cleaning up, I sometimes find things that I haven’t seen in a long time, old treasures that make me happy upon coming across them again. It’s a great feeling to not only get organized, but find some unexpected surprises along the way!

  • varvara

    I have once more idea. If you want to buy something, but ynderstand that there are no place in your house….throw away something.
    I live in a very small flat)))))

  • Gezonder en Fitter (Martine)

    I say this sooo often (in Dutch). Just start cleaning and organising and it will show up. Another secret in this area is: If you’re panicking to find something you need NOW, it is in the first and most logical location where you looked. You just overlooked it because you were in a hurry. 😉

  • stlgrannie

    Corollary: When in doubt, throw it out. 🙂

  • yasmin

    This is a really good strategy also when there is nothing to do and boredom is setting in. It makes me active, find things to donate, to put things to a different use than they were meant for, helps stay organized and gives a good feeling on the whole.

  • Ginger

    Yes! Since encountering this concept in your books, I’ve used it several times. It helps feel productive rather than spinning your wheels, and it never fails to produce what I was looking for!

  • Cara Maclean

    I’m always amazed at the energy and mental lift I get from clearing things out! Whether it is to find something or just create space, I feel better. And then, the less stuff you have, the easier it is to find everything! Thanks for the post!

  • Laura

    Agreed! Also, I am a stress cleaner. It drives my spouse crazy, but if we are having a discussion I must be doing something with my hands, and usually that means cleaning or tidying. It has taken months for him to understand that I listen better when I am putting that energy to work.

  • SahibaChahal

    I absolutely love your blogs. You have actually inspired me to start my own blog (or to atleast give it a try). i would really it if you could just visit it once. Or if someone else would it would really be an encouragement. Thanks 🙂

    please do visit.!! x

    • gretchenrubin

      Off to check it out right now! Congrats!

  • amanda w.

    I love this one. But my children hate it! I like to think that means they know it is a sneaky way to get them both cleaning up and involved in the looking instead of just asking me.

  • Heidi

    I wish I could get my husband and kids to understand this.

  • Lexi Revellian

    Yes! My mother always used to say, irritatingly but with truth, “Tidy up and you’ll come across it.”