No Phone designed by Scott Lewis from the Noun Project

No Phone designed by Scott Lewis from the Noun Project

No matter what type of work you do, it’s hard to resist all of the new and shiny apps and tools that seem to popup every month. Over on the (now defunct) 43 Folders website, writer and GTD expert Merlin Mann explains why you don’t need the latest app or state-of-the-art tools to do your creative work:

My concern is that 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.

Ultimately, the tools that we choose for any purpose will only be as useful as our ability to use them effectively and to understand what their improved quality means to the way we approach our work (as well as the challenges that led us to seek out these new tools). You can buy a successively more costly and high-quality series of claw hammers until you’ve reached the top of the line, but until you learn how to use them skillfully, you’re going to keep making ugly bird houses.

Sure, it’s tempting to want to test every new app or tool that gets released, but it is windup wasting more time picking out a new tool than you do actually using it to produce work.

If you want to write, for example, it doesn’t matter what app you use to do it: you still have to sit down and write the words. The same goes for designing, developing, speaking, and any other sort of creative work. Focus first on the work itself, then worry about finding a better tool to do the job.

Mann explains why our methods and reasoning for doing our work matters more than the tools themselves over on 43 Folders.

  • David Goldstein

    I agree Tanner, in fact all we really need to write is a pencil and a scrap of paper.

    I would like to add that when I was interviewing people for my book, a photographer told me that he didn’t use the latest, fancy camera. Instead he used an older model that over time has become an extension of himself.

    It was a tool he knew how to use so seamlessly that he was able to express his vision without giving the tool a second thought.

    • tannerc

      Thanks for reading and sharing David. It’s amazing how easily we tend to get swept away by new tools, but unless we understand how they benefit our work it could be a waste for us to explore them all.

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