How I Remember to Return

The following post is from Andrea of AndreaDekker.com:

source: Simple Organized Living

I’m always an advocate for borrowing something versus buying something whenever possible. Not only do we save money by borrowing, we also save so much space in our home by not storing things we don’t need on a regular basis. Plus, I personally feel like borrowing (and lending) are great “excuses” to be helpful and interact with others around us.

We regularly borrow books, magazines, and DVD’s from the library; we borrow baby clothes and other baby items from older cousins; we borrow kitchen gadgets from family and friends; and we’ve even gotten to know many of our neighbors by sharing yard equipment. Almost any time we need something we don’t have, my first reaction is to find someone we could borrow the item from.

I also rarely think twice when anyone asks to borrow something from me. As long as it’s not something I use every single day, I will gladly repay the favor and lend out items from our home to help others.

However, I sometimes find it difficult to remember everything we are currently borrowing, when borrowed items need to be returned, everything we are currently lending out, who we’re lending it out to, etc. etc.

And since I certainly don’t want to forget to give something back, I’ve come up with a simple system to help me keep track of all my borrowed items (including any return deadlines) and all the items I lend out.

1. Make a list.

I keep a long list of everything I am currently borrowing, who I’m borrowing it from, and when it needs to be returned. I also keep a list of things I’ve lent out, who I lent it too, and when I lent it to them (this is only if I want the items back).

I keep this list in our laundry room which is right by our back door so I see it often. Once something is returned, I cross it off the list.

2. Keep items to return in your car.

Once I’m finished using a borrowed item, I put a sticky note on the item so I know who it needs to be returned to, and then I put all the items in a basket or bin in the front passenger seat of my car. This way, I see them every time I get in the car, and when I’m out and about running errands, I can quickly stop in and return something if I’m close by.

For example, if you’re driving right past the library, you can quickly pull into the parking lot to and drop off your books and DVDs. If you’ll be close by a friend’s house, you can stop by and return a bunch of baby clothes. If you’re going to a school event, you’ll already have that huge pan you borrowed from the  school kitchen or the item your child’s friend left at your house last week.

It’s all right there, in your car, wherever you go.

3. Check your list regularly.

For me, it seems to work best if I keep the list of items to return in our laundry room and keep the actual items in our car. However, it doesn’t do a whole lot of good to have the items in your car if you always forget to check your list to see what needs to be returned!

I’ve gotten into the habit of checking the list every time I leave to run errands. Sometimes, I’ll even plan my errands so that I conveniently stop and return something on my way. I only have to get out of the house once — and if I’m lucky, my non-napping toddler will fall asleep while I drive!

This method also works fabulous for new items that need to be returned to the store before the receipt or warranty is void. Just add these items to your list and put the item (and the receipt) in your car.

I frequently rely on this method to remind myself of other items that aren’t necessarily borrowed but still need to be given to someone else.

For example, I have a baby gift I want to drop off at a friends house, so I put it in my car and drop it off the next time I’m close to her house. I also have a photo album that I’ve been meaning to give my mother-in-law for a couple weeks now, and I finally put it in my car. Hopefully,  I’ll remember to give it to her the next time we’re at their house. I have a small house warming gift for a relative and a bag of things for the thrift store… and unless I put them in my car and on my list, I’ll probably continue to forget 🙂

I realize this method of remembering is quite simple, but it has been extremely effective in my own life for several years now. By writing my list on paper and getting the actual items out of my house, my brain is free to think about other things and my home is less cluttered. Win-win!

Be sure to download this FREE items on loan printable {full sheet} or {half sheet}. Now you have no excuse for library fines, late fees, or forgotten items!

How do you remember to return?

Andrea Dekker is an avid list maker, pro diaper changer, farmhouse lover, and simple living enthusiast. Her goal is to simplify real life for real families with real budgets, real schedules, and real homes. Follow along at AndreaDekker.com.
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