Too many tools

Image of mechanic tool boxes.
Photo by Dean's Photo / Unsplash

Tools are great. But getting caught up with too many can take away from accomplishing the tasks the tools are supposed to help with. I am guilty of stockpiling both physical and digital tools that are supposed to help me be more productive. What ends up happening is that the tools end up piling up. I subconsciously mix up being productive with researching and buying tools to help me be productive.

I went down a bit of a rabbit hole recently with note-taking applications. I became enthralled with the concept of the "second brain" and heck yeah I wanted/want to build one! The concept of the "second brain" is something like this. A system of organized information that you know how to reference and utilize. This is different than simply taking notes in a way that all the notes are interlinked to each other. Ideas link to other ideas and facts link to other facts and overall it is supposed to bring "everything" together.

So I delved down into at least two big up-and-coming applications that can be used to build such a thing. I watched hours of YouTube videos and tinkered with the programs for more hours. I then realized that I was spending all this time on a tool that was supposed to help me be more effective at studying, and wasn't making time for actual studying.

I guess the big question I have is, how much time should I put into learning a new system and trying to integrate it into my workflow before I will start to reap the benefits?

How about another example, with a physical tool this time? I have this keyboard with a unique layout. It is compact and had mechanical keys, which is awesome, and only had 44 keys. The catch with this keyboard having only 44 keys, is that it runs on layers, that can be accessed by holding down certain keys on the keyboard.

Think of it like holding the shift key to make a capital letter, or accessing the symbols on the number keys. Except this keyboard has three layers, not just two. So to access some functions, like the numbers and arrows, you need to hold down a function key. To access the next layer, you hold the function key and then hit another key to access the third layer containing the function keys and media controls. Confused? I am too, and I have the keyboard in front of me with the included laminated cheat sheet.

So imagine sitting there trying to type and get some work done, and the interface between you and the computer is this new and strange keyboard. This thing is severely slowing how quickly I can rattle off a simple sentence or string of commands.

So where do I stop and say enough tools, let's just get back to getting some work done, in a way where it feels like I am accomplishing something?

If I bail too early, I could be missing out on a much higher rate of productivity in the future. But if I don't bail soon enough, I might just be wasting time "playing" with some new shiny tool that is just sapping my time.

First-world problems right?