It’s Not About the Tools

I test a lot of tools all the time. And if there is one thing this has taught me — more than anything else — it is that it is most certainly not about the tools. That’s odd to hear from someone who spends a lot of time telling you which tools are the best — whether it be apps, knives, bags, etc — but it is true. It’s just not about the tools.

First and foremost it is about having just enough in your tools to do the work.

But this isn’t an article about how to do the work, or make the time — nothing like that at all. This is an article to ask you to stop saying “X app will make you a better Y”, or “I can’t do Y task, without X tool”.

I can open an Amazon box without a knife and so can you. It’s just a hell of a lot easier with a knife — but not always faster. (There’s many times I could open the package in less time than it takes to go get my knife and then open it.)

I can write all my blog posts in literally any app which accepts text input, but I prefer Ulysses. Does Ulysses make me a better writer? Fuck if I know. I just enjoy it, and so I use it.

I can carry my shit in any bag, even a grocery bag, it’s just that some bags are more comfortable and fit better than others. I have no clue if buying these other bags makes my life substantially better in any way, shape, or form. I assume they do, in so much as they make me happy, but that’s about as much as I truly know about it.

And so on.

I could list out all the other things in my life, which I spend copious amounts of time researching and testing — lots of money buying — and tell you how I love those items I have chosen. How for the most part I believe they make my life easier, but I would have to caveat that with the fact that I am just guessing at it.

Because truth be told I have never tried writing all my blog posts in a system native tool like Notes. I’ve never tried to carry all my gear in a grocery bag. I’ve not tried to open an Amazon box without a knife in a very long time. So it would all be a guess.

Lots of people get by with far shittier gear than what I use. Hell some people make down right amazing things with stuff that I would cry if I had to use.

And that’s because it is truly not about the tools.

This site is only financially viable because we all keep wanting to buy the tools. If all of you stopped doing that, well there would be little point to reading my meanderings into 15 new backpacks.

Still, I have to say that it is not about the tools.

It is about the work.

And I don’t mean some productivity nonsense where I start quoting Cal Newport on philosophical work which looks like work only a select few of us do.

What I mean is putting your head down, amidst all the chaos around you, and doing the work with the tools you have.

We know that buying a better camera won’t necessarily make you a better photographer. It might help you get some shots you couldn’t get before, but fundamentally you can take an amazing photo with any camera.

The same is true with most other tools. You can use a shitty backpack and still accomplish the goal of carrying your shit. You can build a house without power tools. You could build a house without a saw or hammer too.

The gear you have right now — it’s probably perfectly fine for the next 3 years or more. I have an obsessive need to test out all sorts of new stuff, which is only fueled by the fact that I not only make money doing that, but that I often get a lot of that stuff for free.

So when you read my next review, or my next tweet, about some great new thing — just remember that it isn’t about the tools. The tools are just fun and easy to talk about. What you own already isn’t made any worse by virtue of that fact that something better has come along.

It will still be the same tool whether you read my next review or not. And if you can remember that, and practice that, well then I envy this for sure.

Even though I know it is not about the tools, in still addicted to finding the best tools I can find.

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Article Details

by Ben Brooks
4 minutes to read.


What you have isn’t made worse by the introduction of something better.