The importance of having tools you love

Think about the tools you use every day: to prepare your meals, to do your work, to clean your home, etc. Given how often you use these kinds of tools, it’s wise to look for ones that you enjoy using. This makes every day more pleasant, and it often saves money in the long term since you buy something once and don’t need to replace it.

What makes a tool enjoyable to use? Obviously, it must do its job very well. Good tools can make you more efficient and may also help you avoid procrastinating on a not-so-fun task. And sometimes one really good tool can replace a number of poorer quality tools, making your space less cluttered.

Another aspect of an enjoyable tool can be aesthetics. And sometimes there are also less tangible elements. For example, a product might bring back good memories.

You often don’t need to be extravagant to find such tools, either. The following are some examples I’ve come across recently:

Timer
I need a reminder to get up from my desk every 30 minutes and move a bit. I got the world’s simplest timer, and now I don’t forget. And it looks good sitting out on my desk, too.

Dish towels
Someone suggested flour sack dish towels to me some time ago, and I finally bought one. I really like it! I’m now planning to buy a few more, and pass my old towels along to someone else. Since my kitchen doesn’t have a dishwasher, I’m especially delighted to have towels that work so well for me, in a pattern that makes me smile.

Printer
Even though I try to go paperless as much as feasible, I still need a printer. I had an old HP printer that I could never make myself replace, even though it always annoyed me for purely emotional reasons. (I used to work for HP, and I feel sad about how the company has changed over the years.) When it broke a few weeks ago, I replaced it with an Epson, and now I wish I’d made the change earlier. I’m also delighted that the Epson is wireless, giving me one less cord needing to be controlled. I don’t know that I love this new printer, but I definitely like it a lot better than my previous one.

Smartphones and their apps
Sometimes the issue is not what to buy but how to configure the tool you’ve bought so it works well for you. I listened to a podcast where one speaker spent many hours arranging the icons on his iPhone based largely on functionality, but also based on creating a pleasing visual arrangement given the colors of the icons. The second part is not something I’d ever do, but I understand the aesthetic impulse. Getting the icon arrangement right was what he needed to do to make the smartphone a tool he loved.

If you have examples of tools you love, I would enjoy hearing about them in the comments.

10 Comments for “The importance of having tools you love”

  1. posted by Sabina on

    Great points! Just curious, why do you need a separate timer rather than using your smartphone? 🙂

  2. posted by Jeri Dansky on

    Sabina, using the timer I do is even quicker and easier than using my smartphone! All I need to do is ensure that the “30” is on the top of the cube, and flip the “on” switch. I’m just more likely to set it than to set the timer on my phone. And it’s always on my desk, while my smartphone may be somewhere else in the house.

  3. posted by Julie Filatoff on

    My boyfriend (a fine woodworker) and I (a fiber/mixed-media book artist) talk about this all the time, and we agree with you. Some of my favorite tools: Olfa rotary cutters, Tonix scissors (Tim Holtz version), Cutterbee small scissors, a medical scalpel (instead of an Xacto knife), and good-quality glue, thread, fabric, paper, binder’s board, acrylic paint, etc., etc. Rather than off-brand craft paint, consider buying the “student” grade of high-quality acrylic paint such as Amsterdam, Golden, Liquitex, etc.

  4. posted by Deborah on

    Definitely good quality sharp kitchen knives. At work I use very sharp knives and I found I couldn’t abide going home to blunt ones for food prep. I have some expensive but fantastic knives and a steel to keep them honed, and I love them.

  5. posted by Berin Kinsman on

    After paring down my cookware to only the things I actually used, I slowly began replacing them with the best quality versions. I think I could survive with little more that a good chef’s knife, stainless sauce pan, and cast iron wok at this point.

  6. posted by Steven on

    This is great! I think the importance of loving the tools you use often holds in many fields. I can’t imagine working on a crappy computer, even if I love working on a computer in general. It is probably the same for a carpenter, an accountant, a hair dresser — you name it :-).

  7. posted by SkiptheBS on

    Upholsterer’s nail claw. It also takes push pins out of walls, pulls hair from drains, and pries stuck objects out of tight spaces.

    Smartphones rule. Having the recipe and the timer on the same device is an unbeatable combination.

  8. posted by Pat on

    I had sneakers with “bungee” laces – no tying. I loved them, but they were a little harder to get into and I told my husband he could get a shoe horn for my Christmas stocking, if he were looking for “stuffers.” On Christmas morning I found a beautiful, leather covered shoe horn. It’s lovely to look at and feels wonderful. A little joy in the morning.

  9. posted by Stephanie on

    I agree totally with you. I’ve been dealing with several health issues for some years which made dealing with stress and even every day life that much harder forcing me to find the best possible solution to plan out my family’s lives. It’s been such a struggle keeping up with my planner when it was the cheapest version around because I just loathed looking at it. All the planners which look nice are incredibly expensive however so now I’m back to trying to put one together myself. I’ll see how that will work out.

  10. posted by laura m. on

    I finally honed down my kitchen tools, pans, skillets, drink ware, but have a good supply of Rubbermaid containers never used (got on sale bogo) so I boxed duplicates to store elsewhere. The kitchen is the worse room for clutter to build up. Deborah: I agree, good knives and keeping them sharp is a priority. I rarely bake and do pastries anymore. Simple healthy meal planning now days.

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