Monday, October 12, 2009

Organize Your Stuff Challenge - Week 21

Helllooo Monday! Glad to see everyone so bright and chipper and ready to organize! This week will be an easy one, so grab yourself a nice hot cup of coffee and relax - we're going to get all your pens and pencils in order. If sticking them all in a large bin works for you, then see ya later. If you want them a little more refined, then read on.

Let me get straight to the point here - it's pens. And pencils. And markers. It's not rocket science. You either organize by type, or by color. And I think type works best for most people - if you want a red pen, you don't go digging through a box of 30 red pens, markers and pencils. Unless you're psychotic, then that's ok, there are meds for that. So go gather all your beloved writing tools and let's find a good way to store them.

Bonus, that will add some time on this week but will be worth it in the end: Take some time this week to get your writing instruments in shape. Make sure all your pencils are sharp. Go through your pens and make sure they all work - toss any that don't. We don't hang on to things like this for sentimental reasons. Unless you want to be known as the "pen lady."

Ok, on to the storage methods. Please note that the links I posted are intended to give you a visual idea of what it is I'm talking about - it doesn't mean I endorse the product or the store.

Stored upright, in jars - best for pencils, not so great for pens (which should be horizontal). Put a layer of beans in the bottom to help keep the pencils separated to get them out easier.
Stored horizontal in a wine rack:
Keep them in the cases they came in (Prisma, Zig Twins for example)
Use a pen holder from an office supply store:
Crop In Style Pen Caddy:
Multi-drawer storage chest
Photo storage box or clear shoe box
Tackle box
Revolving kitchen organizer or tool organizer (best for most-used pens and pencils)
Colorful mugs or small tin pails
Pencil box
Empty paint cans painted and stacked together on their sides
Silverware drawer organizer
Plaid Creative Gear Pen and Marker Holder:
Artbin Prism 6-slot box:
For copic markers:
Zippered pencil cases:, great for crops

Hopefully you've found something in the links that works with your stash AND your space. Here's how I tackled this storage dilemma - multiple solutions! I have a decent sized stash, mostly because all my journaling pens and Prismas are leftovers from design school - who would have thought they'd be so handy down the road? First, my Zig twins are in the cases they came in, I just stacked them in a cabinet. I use the x-boxes by Rubbermaid from Office Depot for all my gel pens and journaling pens:

For my Prisma pencils, I use the zippered pencil case from Dick Blick art supply. My Prisma markers I just keep in a photo storage box.

In closing, I want to add my 10 rules for organizing. I'm going to post these at the end of every challenge, because I think they are very, very important. I want you to keep them in mind as you tackle each of these projects - they will make your life easier and the task less daunting.

1. Label your containers.
2. Be consistent in your methods.
3. Don't be too specific - your search for your items within your space should be short and simple.
4. Your organizational method should be easy to take out AND put away.
5. When organizing, break any large piles into smaller groupings. Have a 2 foot tall stack of paper to sort? Do it in 1" high chunks, it will be easier to handle mentally.
6. If it's something that you use on almost every project, then keep it within reach of your main scrap area.
7. Don't stress your containers. Get a new system or purge your stash.
8. For most items, product packaging adds bulk. Toss it. One exception - rub ons.
9. Repurpose when you can - almost anything can be painted or covered in paper/fabric.
10. THE GOLDEN RULE - FIRST choose an organizational method, THEN choose a container that fits your space and style. Always shop for containers with a list in hand - a beautiful container is simply clutter if it doesn't have a dedicated purpose in your space!
Your pens and pencils are now ready to be used as tools of creativity and not weapons of desperation. Congratulations! Now go drag out that old coloring book for some fun and meet me back here for Week 22.



  1. What's wrong with being the pen lady?..LOL

    I only have a few. I like the idea of keeping them all together though. I need to find a "wine rack" system that will fit in my space.

    thanks wookie again

  2. Some great ideas!
    I found a super outdoor caddy that I use to store my Copic markers in.
    You can see it HERE
    It was from Target but many places sell similar things.

  3. I Love, Love, Love the clear organizer; I wish I had space to store my pens horizontally in something like that. Something to plan for the future, perhaps.