As online freelancing creatives we are obsessed with tools. Go into any facebook group that is for online creatives and one of the most often asked questions is “what tool do you use for X”. These posts then turn into heated debate about why X tool is better than Z tool.
What a waste of time.
While it is important to have the right tools for the job, it is more important to do the job in the first place.
Think back to the work you did last week. How much time did you spend looking for the right tool? How much time did you waste researching the best plugin, framework, or Photoshop brush to use?
It is probably more than you think.
We get stuck looking for the best tool for the job before we even know all the details of the job. You don’t know every bump that will come up so it is impossible to find the perfect solution until you have started creating.
Make a decision to make faster decisions
Recently I released a WordPress theme for sale. The theme has been built for over 3 months but I just put it up for sale last week.
You know why? Every time I went to launch it I got stuck with what shopping cart tool I should use.
Finally I decided to use an old technique I have used with clients in the past. Set a timer.
I set a timer for 30 minutes (use your phone timer or get an app). In that 30 minutes I researched what shopping carts I could use. Before I researched I wrote down the minimum requirements. When the 30 minutes were up I picked one.
Done. And 1 hour later I had my product launched!
I know some amazing designers and developers that often waste weeks or even months in the research phase. By the time they are done researching they have lost all interest in the project.
You need to make a decision quick so you can get back to creating.
You can always upgrade to a power drill
When I first started building websites I used notepad. While it was not the best tool at the time, it got the job done. I could open HTML and CSS files and edit them. I started with a basic screwdriver. It didn’t even have a ratcheting feature.
As I improved my skills I learned what features were important to me. What I needed to make my workflows better. When the time came to upgrade, I did my research and picked one. I have been using that code editor ever since. I had upgraded to a power drill!
You can always change the tool you use later
Don’t put all the focus on the tool you use to make things. It really doesn’t matter. All that matters is how you use the tools you have to create what you create.
When chatting with other creatives a conversation I often have goes a little something like this:
Me: What you working on?
Creative: I have this amazing idea. They then tell me all about it and what it can do and how it will change the world.
Me: WOW. That is really cool! I love it. Have you started?
Creative: No. (they also usually start shaking their head in self disgust as this point)
Me: Why not?
Creative: I don’t have a Mac computer yet, I need that to make the design.
This creative is using the lack of a “perfect” tool stop him from making things. I bet he has a computer. I bet he could get started. I bet using the tools he already has access to he could get something going and see where it takes him.
You can always upgrade later once you get the ball rolling. You may find a better tool for the job as you go anyways. Your customers, clients, audience won’t care how you made it. Just that you did.
My challenge for you
The next time “research” or find the best tool shows up on your to do list, set a timer. Don’t let it take all day. Create a list of the requirements and find the tools that fit the bill. When that timer goes off, pencils down and pick one. Continue moving forward. Continue creating amazing things.