Investing in good tools

I’m about to buy a new vacuum cleaner, and it’s somewhat expensive.

When I first looked into buying this vacuum cleaner, I winced at the price. But the more I read reviews and thought about what to buy, I decided it was a wise purchase for two reasons:

  • It has the features I need. It will pick up cat hair, and it’s relatively quiet so my cats won’t freak out too much. Having a really good tool should mean I don’t procrastinate about vacuuming as I do now, which just makes the job worse when I do get around to it.
  • It should last much longer than cheaper vacuum cleaners, so I’ll spend less over the long term, and I won’t be sending broken appliances to a landfill. And I won’t need to go through the whole time-consuming what-to-buy decision process again in a couple years.

All of which made me think, once again, about how much good tools can help us be productive and make even tedious tasks more enjoyable. Sometimes all you need is a tool that performs really well, but sometimes “good” can also include aesthetics. Kevin Do is a designer at Grovemade, a company that makes desktop accessories (as well as other things). In a recent interview with website Core77 he said, “When your work space is beautiful you are much more inclined to work.”

One place I’ve found I appreciate some beauty is in my note-taking tools. While I use a digital calendar and address book, I prefer using pen and paper for taking notes when on the phone, when working with clients, etc. My on-the-go tool is a pocket briefcase, but I’ve been making do with basic notepads in my home office. I don’t enjoy using those, though, so I’m planning to indulge in a small splurge and get a really nice notebook.

Looking around my office I see lots of tools that work well for me, including my computer, my scanner, and my shredder, But there’s also my Camelbak Eddy water bottle, which someone once described to me as a sippy cup for adults. Because it’s so easy to take a few sips, I tend to drink more water throughout the day. It’s perfect to have sitting next to me when I’m working at my computer, because I’m not courting disaster as I would be with a normal glass or mug — and two cats who often jump onto the desk.

While I think investing in good tools is often a wise decision, some good tools don’t cost much at all. Moving beyond my office, a tool that works extremely well for me is a specific brand of floss picks. I’ve always found other flossing tools to be awkward to use. But with these it’s easy for me to floss, so I actually do it.

Good tools make us more efficient, help us tackle unpleasant tasks, and add a bit of joy to our daily lives. If there’s a tool you use frequently that isn’t working well for you, replacing it might be a wise choice if your finances allow you to do so.

9 Comments for “Investing in good tools”

  1. posted by John on

    Best advice I ever got. Buy the cheapest tool of a quality that clearly meets or exceeds your needs. I don’t need a sub zero fridge, but I need something better than a Danby (sorry Danby).

  2. posted by Pat Reble on

    Buying one good tool also accords with the concept of minimalism – one good pen you take care of rather than several poor quality ballpoints you can never find.

  3. posted by Pat on

    My husband has a severe dust allergy. When it was diagnosed back in 1995, there were several recommendations his doctor made about reducing his exposure to dust, and buying a vacuum with a HEPA filter was essential. We purchased a Miele vacuum, and it was great from the start. I never realized how much good design (and I have a background in design) can make a difference in how easy something is to use. We’re on our second Miele now (the first lasted 15 years, we’re 5 in on the new one), and I don’t like the second as much as the first, but it does a great job on all surfaces (the first one had a compartment for the attachments built in–now I have to tote them in a small bucket).

  4. posted by SusieQ on

    For note taking, consider either the Levenger Circa system or the similar Staples M product. I love the fact that I can write notes and then figure out the best place to put the page later. It is completely flexible in that manner. I have the Junior size which is perfect for quick notes, travel and then I also have the clear pockets where I store receipts that need to be scanned into my expense system.

    I also agree with Pat Reble on the “good pen” philosophy, but currently my pen is the Marriott hotel pen – writes well and easy to find in my bag with that red finger grip. It’s the writing well part that makes it “good” in my book.

  5. posted by Pat Reble on

    SusieQ makes an important point about “good” – it’s not always the most expensive tool that qualifies. The main thing is to find the best tool and not struggle with inferior versions that make a task harder or less pleasant.

  6. posted by Cynthea Corlett on

    I have 2 dogs and 2 cats (indoor) My Miele canister vac is 15 years old and going strong. I take it in for service every 3 or 4 years and am good about changing the air filters. Well worth the money we spent.

  7. posted by Susan on

    Those floss pick things are not recyclable, though. It’s disposable plastic, essentially a one-use item and then it’s in a landfill until long after we’re dead. I’d like to see a merging of ZW and decluttering but most people seem unwilling to go that extra step.

  8. posted by Steven on

    Agree wholeheartedly! My personal preference leans toward an excellent work messenger bag/backpack. Of course there are options ranging from the lowest price to the highest. For the past couple of years, I’ve been completely satisfied with Rickshaw’s Commuter Laptop bag. Top notch quality, casual enough for lugging around anywhere but it won’t embarrass you if you need to take it to a meeting.

    And let’s never forget: if you don’t buy a little of everything, you’ll have the money to get something of higher quality when it’s time to purchase.

  9. posted by a woman on

    When the previous vacuum cleaner was broken, I didn’t buy another one. I have one carpet in the house so I can clean easily the house in the old fashion. I realise after a time that I have less worries (no thinking about item, not maintain it), less electricity payment (ok, not a big difference, 2-3 per month is not a lot), more space in the closet, and free fitness for me.
    I clean more often (I am allergic – dust) and wash the sol every 2-3 days.

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