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9 Questions to Help You Tame Your Toolbox
"A successful tool is one that was used to do something undreamt of by its author" Stephen C. Johnson
Is your creative toolbox out of control? Have you been adding so many gadgets and whatzits and gizmos to your set that you can't close the lid? And are you secretly planning to add more?
If I Had a Hammer...
Far too often, you and I think the thing we lack is the proper tool. If we just had a tricked-out laptop or a quality set of paint brushes, we could finally build our web empire or create our masterpiece. But the real trick of creativity, I’m beginning to realize, is to look for ways to use the tools you already have and think about scrapping the ones you never use.
Tools Can Fool Ya
The newest gadget may have the power to make you more productive, but it also has the potential to distract you with a vast array of fascinating but ultimately useless features. Even something as simple as a notebook, if it comes with too many dividers and pockets and folders, can make you forget what you came to do. Instead of writing, you might spend all your time dreaming up new ways to sort and organize the things that somehow never get written. The best hammer is not necessarily the one made of the finest materials. It’s the one you actually drive the nails with. For this reason, I’ve been working on simplifying my own creative toolbox.
A Kinder, Simpler Toolbox
I'm no longer trying to juggle a dozen notebooks on varying topics. I have just one, a spiral bound sketch diary, in which I write poems, draw pictures, and take notes on anything that interests me. On my computer, I'm limiting myself to a small handful of programs to do what I need to get done. And instead of trying to master a dozen different social-media outlets, I'm focusing on just a few.
A Cool Rule for Tools
I see it this way. The more I can reduce the number of tools I have to master, the more time I have to master the ones I use and actually create something with them. I spend less time deciding what to use and more time deciding how to use them. This doesn’t mean I’m anti-gadget. After all, my own tool box includes a computer, a cell phone, an iPod, and an electronic book reader. The trick is to make such things work for you before you wind up working for them.
9 Questions to Help You Take Back Your Toolbox
I’d encourage you to look through your own tool box and ask yourself these questions:
Which of these tools do I use the most?
Which of these tools do I use the least?
Which of these tools do I never use but find myself constantly having to deal with (sorting them, storing them, shoving them out of the way)?
Which of these tools could I do without?
Which of these tools could I never do without?
What can I make right now with the tools that I have?
Is there some way to use my tools I haven’ t yet thought of?
Am I spending more energy collecting and storing tools than I am putting them to good use?
What was it I wanted to build in the first place?
Lighten your toolbox; lighten your load. A few less tools might be just what you need to really get started on the future you've been dreaming of building.