I’ve been thinking a lot about tools lately. Most of it is just rehashes of things Merlin Mann has said earlier and what Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson say in a chapter of Rework, but that’s just how it is.
The thing is, I believe tools are important. Without tools, very little of what human beings do would be possible. Without a brush and some paint, one wouldn’t be able to paint pictures. Without a camera, no photographer. Tools matter.
I do also believe, however, that there is an unhealthy focus on the exact tools, and that people seem to blame much of their failures on tools, usually a lack of them. This often comes along the lines of someone saying they can’t do anything until the new tool comes out. This could be a painter waiting for a specific brush or a special sort of paint, believing that until these are in his hands, he won’t be able to paint pretty paintings.
This is a problem. Tools matter, but if one lets lack of specific versions of a tool get in the way, then it’s not the tool that’s at fault, it’s the person.
No matter how lovely a pen might be, it won’t make you a better writer. Writing will make you a better writer, and most pens will do the job sufficiently. You may very well prefer some sort of pen (a ball point pen or what not), but if you refrain from writing at all if you don’t have the exact brand you need, it’s not the pen that’s at fault, it’s you.
You don’t need a fancy todo list application; if you’re just starting out keeping score of these things, a piece of paper and a pen will most likely suffice. If you want the fancy one, go ahead and buy it; but if you can’t justify paying for it at the moment, that’s not an acceptable excuse to not keep tracks of your duties.
The tool as a general concept (computer) matters, but for basic stuff, the exact tool (Macbook Pro 17″) rarely does, certainly not if lack of said tool makes you not do what really matters: get shit done.
Yes, I look forward to receiving my iPhone 4, but for now, I will make phone calls, write text messages, and use Mobile Safari on my 3G, thank you very much.