person using magnifying glass to identify her availability heuristic

The availability heuristic and how to use it to your advantage when organizing your home

Where do you put it?


Really! How do you choose where to put something? It could literally go anywhere, you could put it in the cat’s litter box if you had such a desire. Okay, well obviously some things have better places to go than others but where is the ideal place to put that very specific thing you need to access


maybe once every month?


Your mind must be able to access almost instantaneously where the item is located, you will need to use your intuition to find it. To do this, we can use what’s referred to as a -Cognitive Bias- to our advantage, more often than not cognitive biases work against us. But we’re going to flip that notion on its head.


The availability heuristic is what we’ll use to better access items we don’t need daily or weekly. Now, I’ve got to be honest with you, I didn’t come up with this technique, although I have used it. I got it from, or at least I paid more attention to it, after learning it from Adam Savage (the guy from myth busters).


I warn you though, you’re going to be upset about how simple it is. So simple that all of this other writing is really just fluff for SEO purposes, you can really just stop reading after you read this next line. Well, unless you’d like a bit more explanation and some examples of implementation.


Here’s how you decide where to put an item where you’ll for sure be able to find it after you have completely forgotten where you put it.




Think about the first place you would look for the item you need to find. Now put it there.


Yup, that’s it. The first place you would think to look for it is likely exactly where you would first think to look for it the next time you need to. Thus, just put it there! If you come up with two areas that you may equally look for it, and if you can, just buy a second and put one in each spot. Then you have built-in redundancy.


I personally do this when I’m bookmarking websites I need to store. In my system, I think I would look in both places, such as a link for a new pair of safety glasses I want.


I see the ad and want to save the link to the website. I think, “where would I search for these in my folder system?” Probably Products, and then under Tools, I’d then likely find it in the Hardware folder. So, that’s where I put it!


Now let’s say I go to buy them after about 3 months and go to find the link. When I go to look I search under Products then look under Clothing then under Glasses. However, when I open the folder to find it, it’s not there! Dun Dun Duhhhhh!


Duh, I put it under Tools in the Hardware folder. I go look there, and surely, I find it. Yet, before I go buy these dope ass glasses, I drag the link into the Glasses folder under Clothing. This way, if I look inside either folder, it will be there waiting for me to click it, and saves me a tremendous amount of search time. If I need to look for them again, buy more, or share the link with a friend, I now know that there is a higher likelihood that I’ll look in the Glasses folder.


However, this example was for something that was hard to place. Most of the time the first place I think of is the right place for it to go. If it was a Tool like a new miter saw then that would definitely go under tools and then hardware.


Next time you’re not sure where something should be placed, just follow the simple rule and ask yourself “where is the first place I’d look for this if I needed to find it.”


Then just put it there, and move on to the next thing!