A few days ago, I posted on Twitter that I was somewhat of an anachronism:
Throughout my week, I perform the following tasks:
* Shave my face, trim my manly goatee
* Shave my head
* Take notes and write down ideas
* Work on various woodworking projects
* Roast my coffee from green coffee beans
You might be thinking that these tasks aren’t unusual – in fact, they are wholly unremarkable. What makes them different in my case is that I use outdated tools to accomplish these tasks. I use a straight razor to shave my face and head. I use shaving soap and a badger hair brush to make the lather for shaving. I use a fountain pen to write, and I use hand tools exclusively in woodworking. (I do own some power tools, but they are used for home repair and maintenance – any projects I have are made solely with hand tools.)
Anyone that knows me knows that I love shiny new things. I’m always up to date with the latest and greatest in technology. I have more gadgets than I know what to do with. (Robot Vacuum? I have two. Pool Robot? Yes, I have two.)
In the past, I bought new tools simply because they were new. (A razor with 5 blades! How could this not be awesome?) I didn’t take the time to think if I already had something that did the job just as well (or better).
I decided (for me), the decision to buy and use something “new and improved” is based mainly in laziness. This is bad: something that works quicker doesn’t necessarily work better. Case in point – the 5 blade razor and shaving gel. They do a decent job. I used them for years, shaving every day. After moving to a safety razor and good shaving soap, then to a straight razor, I’ve never had a closer shave. My skin is smooth and free from the perpetual razor burn that plagued me when using the other razors.
It’s true that it is super easy to shave with one of those new multi-blade razors. Go to your local WalMart, buy a Mach 5 and some replacement blades, then go to town. After a few shaves, the blades get dull, so you pop ’em out and replace them. Easy, yeah? (Costly, yes, but easy.) Total shaving time was probably less than 10 minutes. It was so easy I could (and routinely did) get up at 4 AM for work, and shave without cutting myself.
Contrast this with shaving with a straight razor. You need to keep that sucker sharp. That means owning a sharpening stone and a razor strop. It means learning how to sharpen the razor, practicing this until you have the exact sharpening angle down. It means that you need to learn a different way of shaving so you don’t slice huge chunks from your face. It means 20 minutes of face and beard preparation before you shave, so you can get the best shave possible.
All these things take time. They are a hassle, and sometimes annoying. I didn’t want to have hassles, so I opted for a second-rate experience in exchange for more time.
How many times have you traded in a good experience for more time? Eaten crappy food at a fast food place when you could have spent an hour making a delicious meal? Paid someone to mow your lawn when you could have done it yourself – smelling that great grass smell, working up a good sweat, and soaking in Vitamin D from the sun? Sat in front of the tv with your family, everyone absorbed in Lost or American Idol, instead of talking about their day, getting to know one another better, and sharing some time together?
My challenge for you is to take one second rate experience from your life this week and trade that time in for a good experience. When you look back on your life, you won’t regret it. Make the time, you can do it.