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How to organize your keys

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ring full of keys
Too many keys spoil the keychain
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Organize your keys by using multiple keychains and sort them with clips

I've never played organized football, but I'm an expert in fumbling. I do it at least twice a day when I'm trying to get a key in a door lock or car door. Despite efforts by people far smarter than me to replace them with electronic cards or funny-looking squares on  smart phones, we still seem to have more keys than we have keyholes.

Fortunately, there are some excellent ways to organize your keys using key chains and clips to keep from fumbling and fuming.

The first step in key organization is collection. Gather all of the keys you have and lay them out on a big table. Don't forget to go through the junk drawer, your car's glove box and pockets of clothes you haven't worn in a while. Make sure to include those small keys from tool boxes, jewelry chests, post office boxes and other locked containers.

The next step is the most fun - the scavenger hunt known as "finding which lock each key is for." Of course, the first few are the easiest - front door, car door, office, trunk. Once the key is identified, place it on a large sheet of paper and write its purpose underneath it.

When you've identified your most-used keys, grab a few from the mystery pile and start trying them in locks and keyholes. You can make this job go faster by comparing them to keys you've already identified. Similar keys fit similar keyholes and this also helps you find copies. Again, once you've identified the key, label it. After a few hours, youíll have most of the keys ID'ed. Put the rest aside for now.

Itís time to think about how often you use each key. Group the ones you use daily together. If itís just a few, put them on one keychain - one that has your name or some other personalized identifier so you know itís your primary chain. If you have too many keys on it, figure out a way to separate them.

Good ways are car and house, car and other car, home and work. Divide them between multiple keychains that are personalized by usage with a word or even a photo. For safety, donít use an ID like a home address or phone number. To identify keychains in a pocket or purse, put the frequently used keys on a sturdy distinctive keychain.

If the keys on a keychain are similar, keep from fumbling by identifying the one used most often. You can stick a small label on it or a dab of nail polish. If you use the keys in the dark, a plastic ring or nub will help you find it. Those keychains with tiny flashlights are great for finding the keyhole once you have the key.

Keys you use less often should be grouped on personalized keychains and then hung on a key rack or placed in a spot where they're hidden but easy to find. Put small keys on a small keychain. Let everyone else in the household know where they are. They'll probably be impressed by your key organization, so share your tips with them and give them a personalized keychain of their own.
Oh, and that pile of mystery keys? Take each one and do one more quick comparison with known keys. If you still can't ID them, you can toss them or keep them for a period of time hoping you'll find a lock in search of an opener. It's up to you. In the meantime, enjoy your fumble-free key organization.

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