PensWhen it comes to finding what you want, when you want it, I have come to believe that the security that come from “safety in numbers” is a false sense of security.   Let’s look at pens, for example.

In my parent’s household, there was always a basket full of writing implements next to the telephone.  Or so I thought.  For it seems that every time I reached for a simple ballpoint pen to write a message with, I would find, instead, a dried out hi-liter, a colored pencil with a broken tip, and one of those typewriter erasers that looks like a pencil with a brush on the end.  (Pretty sure they don’t make those anymore.)

All useful pens had migrated to other areas of the house and beyond.  No one worried about this migration, because, after all, there was always this big basket of pens by the phone.  Was I the only one who saw there wasn’t a decent pen in that entire basket?

Frustrated, I would go out and buy those twelve packs of Bic ballpoint pens with my pocket money and load up the basket, only for that seemingly unlimited supply to be squandered, in a few short weeks.

Fast forward to present day, I only keep two pens at my desk, one blue ink, one black ink, both Waterman.  They are both good quality pens whose weight in my hand make it a pleasure to write with.  These two pens have been at my desk since I first got them 15 years ago.

Of course it’s important to have other, cheaper pens, that can travel to other parts of my home and beyond.  But these two Watermans live strictly at my desk, where the vast majority of my note-taking and check-writing  is done.  It’s really not a very difficult habit, but it does demand limitation.  “Limitation” is an oft-maligned word, but it can be your friend.

Oh, and while I’m on the subject of pens, if you’ve received a nice pen as a gift, for heavens sake use it! I can’t tell you how often I see nice pens still in their boxes.  What are you saving it for? Toss the box and enjoy the pen!

If you are using the same expensive pen for 15 years and counting, is it still an expensive pen?

In the end, having what you want, when you want it, doesn’t come from a quantity of items, but from a quality of habit.