Make a Fresh Start – Day 6

Seana holding a pen cup that needs to be decluttered.

Hello and welcome back to “Make a Fresh Start” in 2021.

One thing that can be very frustrating and time-wasting is when we reach for a pen, marker or pencil, only to discover that it doesn’t work. Pencils may be too small to hold, or they may have broken tips/erasers. Markers and pens dry up. Admittedly, as problems go, this isn’t exactly a big one; however, when you need to jot something down or are trying to capture a thought, it can be irksome.

Here is a funny thing about human nature: when we pick up one of these malfunctioning writing implements  we often drop it back into our drawer or pen cup before hunting around for another one that works. Obviously, this just sets us up to experience the whole frustrating episode again at some point in the future.

Fortunately, this is an easy problem to solve.

  • First, gather all your pens, pencils, highlighters, and markers, along with a piece of scratch paper, a pencil sharpener (preferably a good electric one), and a trash receptacle.
  • Next, sort “like with like,” (e.g. pens with pens).
  • Now test the markers, highlighters, and pens, and trash the ones that do not make a clear mark. [Note: this is a great project for children. If they enjoy helping out, have them bring their collection of markers and crayons to sort through while you are at it.]
  • Pitch any pencils that are smaller than you finger and sharpen the ones that need to be sharpened. If a missing eraser bothers you, you can pitch those pencils as well. If you use mechanical pencils, replace leads as necessary, and keep one container of new leads nearby.
  • Last, reset your space. Ideally, you want only one or two of each writing implement in your close-at-hand storage area (i.e. your pen cup, desktop sorter, or front desk drawer). If you have more than this, move the extras to a more remote storage area, such as a shelf in a closet or drawer in a credenza. You don’t need the whole box of 32 Sharpies that you bought at Staples crammed into your pen cup!

This one small project will make you feel like a superhero the next time you reach for a pen. Going forward, immediately toss any pens or markers that don’t work and keep your pencil sharpener nearby to keep your pencils sharp.

Do you, or others in your space, tend to return unusable writing implements to the pen cup?

See you tomorrow!

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6 thoughts on “Make a Fresh Start – Day 6”

  1. I do this with pens, pencils, and markers pretty much once a week here now that my girls are doing remote learning. So, this one is an easy task for me during the status quo 😉

    1. Wonderful, Janine! You make such a good point: remote learning requires that our home setup be in top shape. What a crazy experience this all is.

  2. Guilty! i do tend to accumulate pens that come free through the mail. They all work but I don’t so many in my drawer. I will purge my drawer right now!! It is annoying to try to grab a pen when on the phone and then get one that doesn’t work!

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