Taking Care of Small Things: Organizing your Keys

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Last week, I announced that I would be introducing a new blog series for the month of October. It’s called Taking Care of Small Things. Go back and read the introduction post if you missed it! In that post, I describe what this series is all about and why I’m choosing to run it here at the blog.

At the beginning of that post, I shared a story which was the unlikely inspiration for this series. The story was about losing my mail key – not once, but twice. I was reminded that it’s important to regularly carve out time to complete tasks that are small before they become urgent. So over the course of the month, I’ll be encouraging you to join me in completing a series of small tasks that will leave you feeling satisfied, organized and in control!

Today’s task: yup, we are organizing those keys!

At the end of today, you should feel that: 1) you have a dedicated place to put your keys, 2) there are spares of all your important keys and 3) all family members know where to put the keys! Completing this task should help you avoid wasting precious minutes running through the house looking for keys. Ideally, it may spare you the pain and cost of having to call a locksmith!

So confession time. I may be a bit ahead of the game on today’s task because I actually have a dedicated spot to put my keys. It’s this small wooden box I bought at a craft store years ago and it has served us so well over the years. It sits on the edge of a table and always has.

If you do not have a dedicated place for your keys, this is your first step. Now you do not need to spend money to do this. Chances are you have a box, basket, jar, or set of hooks that already can do the trick. (However, you can certainly look at a place like Amazon for many cute key organizers, too!)

No matter what you decide to do, the goal is to find the one place that’s going to make sense to store your keys. I recommend having something close to the door. If you make it a place near where you’d naturally set a key down, you’re going to be more likely to use this system!

Now that you’ve got a place to organize your keys, go ahead and gather all the keys you can find: car keys, house keys, keys to the shed, your mother-in-law’s house, what have you. Make sure you have a spare for every important key you have! 

Yes, you are going to take care of this today. Right now. Because if you don’t – if you choose to put it off another day, Murphy’s Law suggests that will be the day you lose your one and only house key.

A word.

I recommend you take care of this at a store that regularly handles making key duplicates. I took my mail key to two different places. On the left was a store I won’t name, but I had a bad feeling about the minute the guy came over and fumbled around for several minutes trying to figure out what to do. No surprise: my spare didn’t work.

The key on the right was made in seconds by the helpful clerk at my local Ace Hardware store. It was fast. It was cheap – and it best of all it, works! (Incidentally, if you look closely, you can see that the key on the left hand side has a top edge that is not straight.)

So step two is getting spares made of keys you only have one copy of. Then, make sure to actually test that they work!

Before you shove or hang all those keys in your organizer, make sure they are labeled. I found these small key rings for about $0.75 each at the Ace Hardware so I could label the keys. Have you ever found a plain old key by itself in the junk drawer only to wonder what on earth it went to? Yeah, let’s prevent that right now.

My Ace Hardware actually had lots of different options for labeling and organizing keys. Amazon has quite a few good options, too!

This might look cluttered to you, but I feel good about it (and that’s what matters right?!). I know I’ve got spares of my important keys and everything is labeled. Plus, my family members all know that the keys go in here, too.

A couple additional things you might consider:

  • Give a set of keys to a trusted friend or family member. There may be a situation where it would be helpful if someone had a set of keys who does not live at your house (for instance, if you got locked out or are worried if you left the stove on!).
  • Create a second space in your house for the spare keys – or perhaps a safety deposit box at the bank. This is just extra insurance in case something happens to the keys in your first location.
  • Bag or box up any unidentified keys. Don’t clog up your organizational space with keys that go to places you don’t recall or vehicles you may or may not own anymore. My advice: put them in a baggie labeled “unidentified keys” and toss them in a junk drawer. Then, vow to make sure any and all keys going forward are properly labeled!

So there you have it! Task one is done, and I hope it didn’t take you more than an hour. If you looked this over and thought smugly, “bah! I already have my keys organized!” Then pat yourself on the back and rest up. Perhaps I’ll get you this Wednesday with something you really do need to do – but haven’t given much thought about lately. Check back then!

3 thoughts on “Taking Care of Small Things: Organizing your Keys”

  1. Love the idea, but I’d recommend keeping your spare keys elsewhere. If your home was broken into, they’d have every single one of your keys labeled and you’d have zero.

  2. After being locked out of my house TWICE in the span of about two months (once in winter and I wasn’t wearing any shoes AND my kids were inside sleeping…long story), my husband and I got a bunch of spares.

    We actually keep a set under each of our vehicles, including a spare key to each of our vehicles, with under car key holders like these: https://amzn.to/2OuP1jA as well as another set hidden outside our house. I know some people may be squeamish about hiding keys under their vehicles but I figure it’s more likely that I will lock myself out of my car than someone will steal it.

  3. I did have this happen & it was awful I don’t think I am over it even still,I had xtra keys ut somewhere out there is another set???

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