🔨 The Right Tool for the Right Job
It’s not just about having a tool; it’s about having the right tool for the right job. Just because you’ve paid for an app, doesn’t make it the right app for every project. Just because you have an awesome Thor-like hammer, doesn’t mean you should use it to screw in a lightbulb.
I used to work with a guy who thought he was an expert with Excel. He knew a couple of functions, including the dreaded VLOOKUP, and thought Excel was the answer to all his projects. He would use it for everything like storing passwords, SQL statements, and any other text he could jam into it. Instead of using a database to find products, or using “grep” to find something in a text file, he would spend hours trying to load everything into Excel.
He would also spend days formatting tables. Not use one of the built in ones to make it easier to see the lines, but custom shades of red, yellow, orange and green.
It’s not just him, people get Excel with Office, so they try to make it do anything and everything. Who else has had to fill out a performance review using Excel? I find that a little tragic.
It’s not just Excel, I see it with Keyboard Maestro all the time. It’s an incredibly powerful tool with some amazing features, but it can’t solve every problem. Maybe it can in the hands of an expert…
There are instances where you may need a specific text cleaner or formatter to handle massive amounts of text or perform complex operations. What might take hours or even days to put together in Keyboard Maestro, could be completed in a few seconds or maybe a minute or two using TextSoap.
What about Notepad++? It’s an awesome text editor, but it seems like people are getting a little carried with these plugins.
And not every tool can be free, sometimes you have to spend money to make money. I can’t count the number of people who refuse to invest in a screen capture tool, a better keyboard or mouse, or some incredibly useful app because they see it as an unnecessary expense. The company needs to buy this for me! I refuse to spend $30 to save myself days worth of work, massive headaches, and improve my work life balance!
Instead, they sit there, complain, and waste even more time. Sometimes, you have to recognize there are better tools for the job. When I wanted to get into the big leagues with automation, I bought the big league computer and ran the big league tools.
Be careful following this path, but you gain a lot of respect for yourself when you’re asked to test an API and you come back in a hot minute saying, “I crashed it with 100 users and a couple thousand requests.” People see you aren’t playing around.
The point is, Excel isn’t the answer to everything. It’s not a password manager, or script editor, or database. That’s been one of the things I’ve loved about using the Mac, there really is an app for that.
Code snippets go in the snippet tool. Passwords go in the password manager. Reminders go in the reminder app.
It might be interesting to try and shove everything into an all-in-one tool, but are you really being efficient? Are you really being productive?
If you spend $10 on a note taking app and save yourself hours of searching through workbooks tabs, that sounds like a good investment. If you spent $10 on a snippet tool and all your code is organized by language and you’re able to find, copy, and paste what you need in a few seconds, that sounds you’re building career capital.
Yes, Notepad++ is cool. Excel is cool. But, we need to move beyond those single apps. Instead of fighting with a tool, or trying to shoehorn your project into an app, look for the right tool. Spend the money to take better and faster screen captures. Spend the money to organize your code. Spend the money to store secure passwords. There is a grand software world out there beyond Excel.
There’s an app for that…