How to get stuff done when you don't have the "right" tools

How to get stuff done when you don't have the "right" tools -- Mervi Emilia Eskelinen

I always find the "how to start a blog" type articles funny. I mean, don't you just start one? Free WordPress.com or Blogger. Or a self-hosted one, like mine. You publish your first blog post, and there you are, blogging.

Then again, it's easy to feel like you cannot publish a post if your blog doesn't look exactly the right way. Or start a podcast without an expensive microphone. Not to mention getting into video creation, without having extensive knowledge about editing or owning a great camera. And how about getting your business up, without having the exactly same apps and website hosting and other things as that very successful business person?

In Finnish we have this word välineurheilija, gear athlete, which is a degrading way to call a person who is more invested in the latest gear than the actual sports. You know, the one who buys the most flattering sports outfit and all the gadgets and whatnot, before even hitting the gym or the track. In a sense, when you can't start your blog or business without all the "right" tools you are also a välineurheilija.

I do that myself. If my site's design isn't quite the way I want it to be, I won't feel like publishing new articles on my blog either. Ridiculous, totally.

That person, who can't hit the gym or get out and run without the pretty gear, isn't going to get fit. They'll just use the lack of the latest sports tracker or the pink top as an excuse. The same way you (and I) are using the wrong blog theme, or not having that best camera or microphone, or lacking those oh-so-necessary business tools as an excuse.

Okay, if you are like me, you may need a little push to get motivated to do certain things. And yes, there are circumstances that can make some things difficult or even impossible. But what if you don't really need most of those things you think you need to get into whatever you want to get into?

Let's take a simple thing, like starting a blog. Now if you are really interested in starting a blog, you can do it. You don't even need the money, since there are those free options. WordPress.com and Blogger are only a few examples of them. If you add microblogging to the mix, then you can use Twitter or Instagram, or other such services as well. And besides, a basic hosting and a domain doesn't cost really that much. You have options.

Some of the options don't even require installing anything. Those free ones I mentioned take only a few moments to set up. And even with the self-hosted options you can get a blogging platform installed with a few clicks. No need to even really know what you are doing, tech-wise. On top of that, there are free and paid options that are (almost) ready to use off-the-shelf, such as Squarespace, Wix, Weebly or Portfoliobox.

Then, it's all about creating the content. You don't really need any further tools for that. Just get to writing. Yes, if you want to add photos or other images to your post, you may want to use a simple app for editing them. But mostly, the images are a like the pink top you "absolutely can't run without". For now, not that necessary. Obviously, in case you are a photographer, that's a whole different thing. Then, I assume, you have your own photos and, at least, the basic photo editing skills. Otherwise, you can make the learning process as a part of your blogging.

So, what to do, if you are getting obsessed with the "right" tools rather than getting your thing done?

Define what your thing is

What is it what you want to do? What is it what you think you need these tools for? Tools are there to aid you with doing your thing. But you need to first define what you are doing.

Think it this way: Your thing is not getting Photoshop, your thing is photography. Your thing is not getting the right theme for your blog, your thing is blogging. Your thing isn't using a specific accounting site or app, your thing is making a living with coaching.

Define what your thing is. Set your priorities and goals. Tools, and wanting them, are a great distraction.

List the essentials

List what you need for your thing. It's okay to include the fancy gear you want (rather than need) at this point. Just list everything.

After you have listed everything, try to remove the things that aren't absolutely necessary. On each tool, think if you really need it at this point, or if it's something you just want.

Make sure you use generic terms, rather than branded names. For example, change "Canon Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D" into more generic "camera". Soon you'll notice you don't need a specific brand or model.

You should end up with a very short list of basic essentials.

Take an inventory

You are very likely to already have many things on your list. Take an inventory of the gear you have. Compare this inventory to the basic essentials list you made.

You can check those out of your list. Keep in mind that sometimes you can utilise things you already have in more than one way. Smartphones and laptops are a good example of this. For example, they come with a camera and a microphone for photos, videos and podcasting.

If you really don't already have an essential, decide if it really is an essential. If it is, do you need it right now, or can you get started without it? Are there alternatives you can use for now? Can you borrow it, or buy something that fits your budget right now?

Start with one small thing

Whatever your thing is, whether you have all the right gear right now, you probably still can start doing one small thing to get it going. It can be setting up the blog or writing the first blog post, even if you don't publish it yet. In case you are starting a business, there are plenty of small things you can do. Such as coming up with a business name (and reserving the social media usernames for it). Or writing a basic business or marketing plan. Anything that gets you started.

You don't have to do everything at once. Just one small thing. Then another. And another.

When you realise you already have the basic essentials, and start making one small thing at the time, you can finally get over your obsession for the "right" tools.

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