It’s a fundamental fact of human life that we lose about 100% of the umbrellas we buy. Just about everyone has experienced that moment when you’re six blocks away from the restaurant and the rain starts to fall, bringing to mind a crystal clear image of your umbrella on the floor under your table. This is why every convenience store in the universe always has a supply of cheap umbrellas on hand: People lose them constantly.
Despair no more. Science has been working on the problem, and it turns out, there are some tried and true ways to prevent yourself from leaving your umbrella behind ever again.
Play mind games on yourself
One of the main reasons we lose so many umbrellas is because we assign no value to them—and that’s likely because you bought the cheapest one you could find the last time you got stuck in a downpour. Without any sort of investment, you subconsciously regard the umbrella as a disposable item—so one easy solution is to finally invest in an umbrella that doesn’t suck. You don’t have to drop upwards of $500 on a Burberry, but spending more than $5 on your next umbrella may inspire you to protect it with the same fervor you protect your other valuables. Plus, if you’re in the habit of losing your umbrellas, you might actually save money in the long run with a more expensive model you don’t lose.
If your budget doesn’t allow for pricier umbrellas or you find that you’re capable of losing surprisingly expensive things, science has a solution known as “unitization.” According to a study published in the journal Memory & Cognition, this involves connecting two concepts in your mind and has been found to be very effective in helping older folks with memory challenges. For the umbrella-challenged, the way it can work is simple: When you set your umbrella down somewhere, imagine it wedged in the door you’ll need to leave through. It sounds a bit wonky, but what it does is connect the umbrella with the act of leaving and another object—in this case, the door—in your subconscious. When you stand up to go, the image will remind you to grab your umbrella before you leave.
More tips and tricks
If the unitization method doesn’t appeal to you, there are a few more basic tricks you can try in your quest to be buried with that $5 umbrella you bought at a CVS:
- If the umbrella has a Velcro strap to keep it closed, try attaching the Velcro to your shoelace or any other article of clothing when you set it down on the floor.
- Use an umbrella with a cover. When you step inside, put the umbrella cover on, and slip something easier to remember, like car keys, inside. When you stand up to leave, you’ll look for your keys and remember your umbrella.
Or tap into technology
Finally, if you’re the modern type who loves solving simple problems with incredibly delicate and advanced technology, you could attach a Tile or AirTag to your umbrella and set a separation alert to warn you if you leave it behind. Alternatively, when you put your umbrella down somewhere, set up a reminder on your phone’s calendar app for when you estimate you’ll be leaving. If you’re not ready to go when it activates, just snooze it until you are. Annoying, but effective.