Coaching for Creatives | Ditch The Broken Pen


A couple months ago, during a meeting, I grabbed a pen that didn’t work. I started to put it back in my jar of pens when my sister said “Throw it away.” So I did. And now my life is exponentially better because I will never grab that pen that doesn’t work ever again.

Then the other morning during my typical breakfast of oats & egg whites (an surprisingly delicious combination) I got a little bit of maple syrup on my spoon. In between bites I was trying to find exactly where this maple syrup was on my spoon and wipe it off with a napkin but with each bite my utensil hand was getting stickier. At that point I would normally just suffer through breakfast with the minor inconvenience of a sticky spoon, but I remembered my sister’s command to ditch the ink pen. Except now the dried out ink pen was a sticky spoon. So I got up, washed my hands, and grabbed a new spoon. I enjoyed the rest of my breakfast routine and started my day without annoyance.

So then I started thinking about all the other things I could edit out of my life. The uncomfortable bra that I never wear and constantly have to shove to the back of my drawer – I should just toss it (along with the sock that hasn’t had a match for years). Or my iPhone case that has to be removed every time I plug it into my sound dock – I should just get a better designed case that fits my dock adapter. Then there’s that highschool acquaintance whose Facebook status updates always get me riled up – why are we still even “friends”? And of course, there are all the email blasts I get from stores I don’t even shop at flooding my inbox. How long would it take to hit “unsubscribe”?

Today I invite you to move through your day with an awareness to the little details you could edit out of your life. Take note of all of the little things that deplete you of even the slightest bit of energy. And then I challenge you to ditch the broken pen. Let me know in the comments what you uncover and what you decide to ditch (or delegate or donate).

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P.S. If you like this post you might like my DIY Coaching for Creatives Email Sessions. It’s 4 emails x 4 weeks (16 emails total) for just $40. Complete with worksheets, exercises, mantras, meditations, and to-dos for time management, decision-making, and strategies for living more of what you love – in work and life. You can learn more about what you’ll get and purchase anytime here.


  1. This is such a simple but great idea! I have a pot full of pens that don’t work on my desk right now and I’m left wondering why I have never thrown these away before?! The same goes for the annoying bra. Thank you for this amazing, yet simple reminder!! :) xx

  2. Joana

    Thank you for this post Kathleen! It came at the perfect time for me. I’ve been feeling really overwhelmed with a new job, freelancing on the side and trying to keep my home tidy – and I do think that if I implement this advice, it will help a tonne.

    Hope you’re enjoying being a mum :) Love seeing your posts. xx

  3. I just cleaned my “digital” house. Was so liberating I even wrote a post about it. Unfriend. Unfollow. Unsubscribe. Somewhere I stopped learning from the internet, so I did some streamlining and editing. Now I am much happier and more focused.

  4. andee

    Amen! How is that I need to reminded of something so basic? Thanks Kathleen!

  5. Such perfect advice! I am in the midst of that type of thing right now. This weekend, in fact, I ordered what basically amounts to an entirely new wardrobe. All workout clothes. Because my focus right now in my life is health and strength and I find that I’m 1000% more likely to squeeze a couple of 20 minute workouts into my day when I’m already dressed and ready to go so why do I sabotage myself by getting up and putting on jeans in the morning? I realized it is so much more efficient to skip that extra step and just stock up on things that will serve me in more than one way throughout the day. I feel stronger already!

  6. Ugh, YES! Thank you for the reminder! I keep too, too much that just bogs me down.

  7. OrigamiGirl

    I find that kind of thing very hard – ditching broken things. My Dad is always loathe to throw things out and says things like ‘you don’t know if it’ll come in useful later’ and always wants to fix things many times before they go out. As a result I tend to have the same habits, holding onto broken things for nostalgia for far too long. Not quite the sticky spoon, but clothes that don’t fit, or shoes that the bottoms have come off still sit around my house in case I find time to fix them one day.

    Although I certainly couldn’t go wrong with unsubscribing to some junk!

  8. MJ

    Perfect timing for this post! I spent about 15 minutes yesterday “unsubscribing” to emails that had started to flood in InBox. Always good to start fresh in the new year :)

  9. Dawn

    I just unsubscribed from all the discount sites I have signed up for and never bought anything from. I also unsubscribed from all the stores that I bought one gift from and never planned to shop at again. I edited my email preferences from sites like Pinterest and LinkedIn in attempt to cut down on the digital junk in my life. Sometimes the motivation to do something so needed comes from the easiest reminder. Thank you!

  10. Such a great reminder to purge / edit / let go of the things that aren’t serving. And to be more present! I laughed at the ‘sticky spoon’ … have totally been there and done that more than I care to admit in life!

  11. Julie

    This is exactly what I needed to “hear” today.

  12. Lauren

    I had a teacher (in a wilderness course) that always used to say “Start hard, finish easy.” Which, then, meant going pee outside the tent in the middle of the night even though it was super cold, rather than fight a few more hours of restless sleep because you don’t want to get out of your warm sleeping bag (doing one hard thing first so that the rest of the things are easier later). Or stopping the whole group while hiking to preemptively bandage an oncoming blister rather than hike for another mile and get a full-on blister and be unable to walk for a few days.

    So now, starting hard and finishing easy means washing all the dishes before I leave the house even though I don’t want to, instead of coming home to a sinkful of dishes and being annoyed that they’re there. Or putting on my gloves as I’m brushing off my car so that my hands don’t get frozen instead of just doing it “quickly” and then having to blow on my hands while I drive to the store.

    I even repeat it to myself when I’m feeling like ditching out on a tiny chore that needs to get done before I start a more fun thing.

  13. Kelly

    I’m ditching my pair of hot pink skinny jeans. I love them, but they don’t fit my recently lifted and rounded booty (thanks CrossFit!) and give me the dreaded camel toe. Instead of waiting until I magically fit into them again, I decided to embrace that my body has just out-and-out CHANGED, and send to another sprightly short lady who might enjoy them via Goodwill.

  14. Jessica

    Wardrobe and email newsletters are probably my two biggest offenders. Like you, I will keep a sock that may never have even been mine, and just let it take up space. Yesterday we went out for Pho downtown, and we both had to go to the bathroom (this gets better, I swear). The bathroom looked like it was literally a hole in the wall, unisex, come-on-in that was nestled right behind a door underneath the TV. I didn’t want to use that bathroom, but I literally said to my fiance, “I won’t like it, but I’ll be more comfortable after.” Sure enough I knocked on the door, and it led to a staircase! The porcelain was, thankfully, no where near the rest of the patrons. And sure enough, I felt amazing. It’s no broken pencil, but I sure as hell felt comfortable once I went through that process!

  15. Jill

    Thanks for this post, Kathleen. We moved across the country almost two years ago into a small apartment (after having lived in a town house almost double the size) and I’ve been purging for what feels like forever. But I still can’t seem to get rid of the clutter. I know all the things I need to do, but the “to do” list often feels insurmountable. Just reading your post made those steps seem doable. One broken pen at a time. Thanks.

  16. Jill

    Thanks for the “Start hard, finish easy” line! I think that’s my new mantra!

  17. Nancy

    Funny! I’ve been doing the same in my life it started with the pens then a shirt in which I didn’t feel comfortable or nice and finally a leaky water bottle. I don’t need these in my life. So slowly I’ve been getting rid of a few of these negative things…It’s definitely made my life a bit better.

  18. Sarah

    Every day I fumble over a wad of gold keys on my key chain as I open the door to my studio. This morning after trying several keys before grabbing the right one, I finally ditched all the ones that don’t open said studio door and thought of you. I realized I don’t even know what door those 5 extra keys belonged to!

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