“Choose the tool that allows you to follow the process you want. Don’t let the tool dictate how you work.” – Randy Hunt
It’s easy to get distracted by the sheer amount of tools and resources that are available to you today.
Artists get to decide between the types of brushes they use – wooden, plastic, or metal handle, and what about synthetic or natural fibers for the head? – in addition to the canvas and material type.
Writers have ample decisions to make around their tools as well: hand-written, with a computer, or a trusty typewriter? What software to use? iPad or desktop?
The same decisions can easily be spotlighted for any of us.
How do we know which tools to use, which to avoid, and when it’s time to change what we’ve been using?
Some of the best advice I’ve received (and given) on the subject is simply: use what works for you and your process.
It’s extremely tempting to seek-out the latest and greatest tools. But ultimately what makes a tool useful is whether or not it helps you accomplish the tasks you need it to. Anything else is unnecessary and should be viewed as a step away from what you actually need in order to get the work done.
You can’t afford to get distracted by the tools everyone else is using, or what everyone else is talking about. You must instead be diligent in finding a tool that helps you work the way you work best.
Your focus in selecting and working with any tool should be around the process you use to do the work and whether or not the tool at-hand is the one that can accomplish it.
If you’re a writer, that means the best tool for you is one that allows you to write wherever you are when you need to write, anything else should be viewed as completely unnecessary.
The only time you should start looking for new tools is when the ones you’re using now don’t help you accomplish the new things you’re trying. Maybe you’re trying to use a new type of paint, or you’re wanting to format your writing as you go so it’s easier to publish, in those instances it’s worth looking at different, more powerful tools. But unless those tools can help you accomplish just those tasks, there’s no real need to switch?
Yet the call of exploring new tools is a constant one we must battle with. Simply because new and shiny things are prime distractors from the often daunting task of work.
One of my favorite quotes on this subject comes from author and productivity genius Merlin Mann, who compared looking for new tools to buying new running shoes. Mann explains:
“There’s a big difference between buying new running shoes and actually hitting the road every morning. Big difference. One is really fun and relaxing while the other requires a lot of hard work, diligence, and sacrifice….as you start to choose one new, dedicated tool to improve your productivity…don’t fiddle endlessly, just because it’s fun. That’s not running; that’s just playing with your shoes.
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Photo by William Warby.