Rehabbing Your CapturesBefore you determine which ones you can keep, try this trick.
- Add about 1/4 inch of rubbing alcohol to the bottom of one of those glass jars you used to trap the pens.
- Put the pens point down in the alcohol for about an hour. Then take them out and wipe the tip with a rag (if you have a rag bag...) or paper towel.
- On a scrap piece of paper -- can't find one? We'll solve that problem later -- scribble with the pen. If it won't write, throw it out!
"That's obvious," you say. Oh, yeah? How many times have you found a pen that wouldn't write on the first try and set it aside to fix it later? (You didn't? You must have a mild case of Packrititis.) Going through this step, giving the pen that one last chance, helps you to throw it away without guilt, and without delay.
- Repeat with the rest of them.
And maybe you can't remember if they're .07 or .05, so you buy both, thinking you'll return the ones that don't fit. And maybe you misplace the returns. Or the receipt. Or you just never get around to returning them. Get it? You need to organize. At the end of this post, I'll add some links to articles on organizing your desk.
Dispersing Your Extra Writing ImplementsDetermine which ones you'll keep. Put them in a separate pile. What do you do with the extras?
- Take some back to work (that's probably where they hitched a ride home with you to begin with).
- Leave them somewhere. One person who had promotional pens made for a local business used to "accidentally" leave them at the post office and ATMs, hoping that people would pick them up.
- Pass them on. Do you belong to any organizations that could use them? Some people are squeamish about handling others' belongings, but as long as you didn't chew the ends, a quick swipe with a cleaning cloth should do it.
- Donate them. If they're in good condition, find out if there are any local organizations that could use them. Every non-profit needs office supplies. Maybe, like you, they've been plagued with rogue pens who hide on them, but they don't have the time to set traps and capture.
- Some organizers suggest leaving some in your car. I don't. Cars get too hot (and cold) where I live, so they don't always work when I need them. They also can end up on the floor where you step on them, and they can leak into upholstery. Pencils? They work under almost any condition. I leave a couple in my car at all times, in case the point breaks on one.
Rehoming the KeepersYou've discovered that the preferred habitat of the pen and pencil is not necessarily the starkness of the writing desk, homework table, or even kitchen. Some of them like to move around. That means that you need a permanent pen hostel for every room where your traps yielded significant captures.
Instead of buying holders, why not recycle something you already own? As I said, coffee cups make great holders. If you're crafty (or have kids who are), make some. Google craft project pen holder for ideas.
Guys, there's no reason you can't do this, too. Think the designs on that link are too feminine? Take an empty can (preferably one that was opened with one of those can openers that leave no sharp edges) and cover it with a printout of your favorite book cover, hobby, sports team. All you need is a printer and glue.
ResourcesHere's an idea: If you can't find a place in your area for your overwhelming collection of extra pens, send them here OR take them to another area yourself.
Right to Write
Darn. I just found out that one of my favorite fables might be a myth:
Fact or Fiction?: NASA Spent Millions to Develop a Pen that Would Write in Space, whereas the Soviet Cosmonauts Used a Pencil.)