Let’s talk about keys

Years go by, technology improves yet many of us continue to carry a huge collection of keys. Throw in a few fancy keychains, customer loyalty cards, and next thing you know, you look like an old-time jailer walking around. I even knew someone who damaged the ignition system of her car by having a heavy keychain pulling down on the steering column for months and months. The following are a few ideas for getting an out-of-control key collection under control.

First and foremost: separate your keys into logical groups. Put work keys on their own ring, home on another. Perhaps the garage and the shed can live on their own as well. I keep the shed and basement keys separate from the car keys.

While you’re at it, make it easy to find the key you need at a glance. Your local hardware store probably has decorative blank keys that they’ll use to make copies for you. Use, say, a beach-scene key for the shed. Or, order up a custom key tag (or even a humorous one) that you’ll recognize in an instant.

You might want to consider an alternative to a traditional keychain. The Keysmart is a clever device we looked at in 2015, as is the Keyport. (If you’d rather go the DIY route, you can find a clever tutorial on Reddit.)

Lastly, and this goes without saying, ditch any keys you no longer use. The same goes for customer loyalty cards. If you don’t frequent a store anymore, or if a given promotion is over, you don’t need that card anymore. Smartphone owners can use an app like Keyring (available for iPhone and Android) and keep a digital version of the card and skip putting on your physical keyring completely.

Get those keys under control! Your pocket — and your car — will appreciate it.

7 Comments for “Let’s talk about keys”

  1. posted by Pat Reble on

    I used to work in a prison. I use the prison system for my keys at home. ONE key that fits all my Yale locks; ONE key that fits all my padlocks. It costs a bit for initial setup, but saves long term in so many ways. Encourage your work to use the same system. The reason most people end up with bulging key chains is that no one gives it much thought – new door = new key. It doesn’t have to be that way!

  2. posted by Jen on

    Having all my keys on one keyring might be physical clutter, but for me, it reduces mental clutter. I don’t have to think about which keys I’ll need when I walk out the door, I just grab my house keys and know that everything else is there too. If I had my work keys on a separate ring, chances are I’d forget them and be locked out of my office.

    You do make a good point though about removing unused keys – there’s a key on my keyring which I’ve completely forgotten what it opens, so why am I carrying it around?

  3. posted by Sarah on

    I agree with Pat Reble’s comment above: to the greatest extent possible, use ONE key for almost everything. It is absolutely the cleanest, easiest solution to the key issue. And I don’t have to remember which lock it opens!

    I simply ask the locksmith to “key alike” any new lock I have installed; it has never been a problem.

  4. posted by Katie on

    When we bought our house, we replaced all the locks with kwickset smart key locks, which we can re-key ourselves. So now, whenever we add a new lock, it can use the same key as all the other locks. I also keep my work keys on a separate key ring.

  5. posted by Leslie on

    For years, I used something like this (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obi.....tterer-20/ but a bit smaller. I had purchased it when I was in Japan and it was perfect for separating keys when I didn’t need to have all of them with me. Unfortunately, I lost it and I’ve yet to find another like it. Might be time to settle as I do find the ability to break the keys into smaller groups helpful.

    Also a huge fan of keyring thanks to most every store having its own reward card and many of them not linked to a phone number.

  6. posted by Jimena on

    my favorite for distinguishing keys from each other is ti use fun colors of nail polish to mark them up. quick and easy!

  7. posted by Elizabeth on

    For the past two years I’ve had to live with 3 sets of house keys and 2 sets of car keys. (My own home keys and car key, keys to my b/f’d’s flat and his car which I’m insured to drive, and then I was looking after my mother who was terminally ill so her house keys were added to the mix. Because I was pinging between all three sites all keys were on active duty in my handbag.)

    My own house keys I have on a keyring with a crown (Queen Elizabeth – geddit??!). The boyfriend’s keys are on a keyring that was given to me depicting a teddybear in guards uniform and a teddybear in UK police uniform. Anybody looking at it would think it was just a piece of tourist tat (which it is!) But the boyfriend is in the police so it is a coded reminder to me that the attached keys are for his place. My mother’s keys are plain without a keyring but that’s fine because the others are marked.

    My car keys are on a ridiculously annoying keyring with jingle bells on it (probably out of a Christmas cracker). That means they are very easily found when trying to fish them out of the depths of a crowded handbag in a hurry. The boyfriend’s car keys are plain which is fine because the other ones are marked.

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