Obsession With Tools

Obsession with tools is an insidious form of procrastination. This form of resistance masquerades itself as the opposite, as a form of improvement and development. Surely, if you’re spending time and money researching and getting the best tools for the job, the stuff you produce will improve? Won’t you have an edge over your competition–those who didn’t take the time to optimize their workflow by getting better, faster or more powerful gear?

Maybe. Probably not.

There is no argument that providing everything else stays constant, better tools will produce better results–after all, that’s that’s what “better” tools do. Whether the tool is a piece of software, a new mobile phone or a screwdriver, the better version would probably do a better job at its task.

The problem is this: better tools come at a price. Whether that price is time spent researching all the options or money spent buying them, there will be a price to pay. This presents a great opportunity for Resistance to jump on board and take control. If you’re spending all your time “optimizing” whatever it is you’re doing, you end up not doing anything at all.

It’s absolutely great if you can find a way to do things faster or better. If you find a tool that solves your problems in a more efficient way, use it. It would be a mistake not to. The problem is when you get so obsessed with having the latest and greatest that the gains become less than time spent looking around and managing all these great tools. Don’t fall prey to Resistance and get sucked into premature optimizations, wasting time on gear–time that should be spent producing things.

People use equipment as a crutch. They don’t want to put in the hours on the driving range so they spend a ton in the pro shop. They’re looking for a shortcut. But you just don’t need the best gear in the world to be good. And you definitely don’t need it to get started.

Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson, Rework

June 2010