Setting up a Database for Lost and Misplaced Items

A simple and very practical introduction to databases is to create a database of lost and misplaced items. I constantly get confused about whether an item of mine is lost or misplaced. Now that I've created a database, I can find out in a flash whether an item is lost or misplaced. For me, it gives me peace of mind knowing that I have a detailed record of all lost and misplaced items.

Almost any database program can be used to keep track of lost and misplaced items. On Windows, you can use Microsoft Access. On the Mac, FileMaker and AppleWorks both work well. I've found that I need to use Oracle to keep track of the quantity of items I've lost and misplaced, but for the average person, any of the above programs works fine.

Once you have your database set up, it makes sense to print out weekly reports of your lost and misplaced items. I keep my reports on a clipboard, right by my computer. If you find the smaller clipboards don't hold enough sheets, you can get a clipboard that can comfortably hold over 100 sheets.

You can streamline this database, too, by planning ahead. If I buy anything new, I automatically add it to misplaced items, knowing that within a week or two I will have misplaced it. There's a certain satisfaction when you find out that you've misplaced something that is already in the database. In truth, this technique saves a lot of work. There's nothing like being prepared and planning ahead. Doing so will help you organize your lost and misplaced items in a way you never thought possible.

Over time you can look back over the database noting trends. For instance, I've noticed I lose umbrellas mainly in the spring and fall, so that helps remind me that I need to have all my umbrellas entered into the database before spring and fall arrive. In the spring, I enter the sunglasses I expect to lose and misplace in the summer. In the fall, I enter all the gloves and hats I expect to lose and misplace in the winter.

I don't know what I'd do without my database of lost and misplaced items. My life would be so disorganized without it.

Phil Shapiro

The author has lost over 50 umbrellas, 65 hats and 120 socks -- in the past year. He sometimes spends time looking for items he already is wearing. He can be reached at: His satire can be reached at the bottom of

Along with a string of other credits he can't quite remember, he is the former president of the Virginia Maicntosh Users Group.

This humor was written for the award-winning Washington Apple Pi Journal, a user-group of several thousand Mac users in the Washington DC-area.

Copyright 2003 Freely distributable for noncommercial purposes.

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