The sheer number of moving pieces the average person has to navigate online is simply ridiculous. If you’re also a content creator, creative, or entrepreneur (or God forbid, all three), then that number undoubtably gets larger. The thought of making a change to an online tool set is enough to cause panic of the first order. Yet, regularly evaluating and culling (dumping the unused or disliked) tools is a practice that should be a part of your schedule.
For me, I reassess most of my tool sets on a yearly basis. It’s a painful process, but one that needs to happen. If I end up dumping a tool from my stack, there are usually repercussions, but ultimately it is a decision that is meant to improve my creative and entrepreneurial processes.
Dolla Dolla Bills Y’all
I’ve recently made some big changes in terms of my core daily apps that are more financially motivated. With things appearing shaky in the financial world, I’ve opted to reduce some subscriptions and replace them with free tools.
I have an early adopter mentality and that has proven to be a problem when it comes to replacing tools with ones I need to pay for, only to then realize that I could have just stayed with the free version, and I’m really not much more impressed with what the subscription model provides. As a result, I’m pulling back, dumping subs left and right, and starting a silo process for new tools in which I will use them for a few weeks (up to a month) and then make the determination on whether they should become part of my tool set.
Replacing tools? Adjusting your tool sets? This is so common sense. Why even write about this? Here’s why.
Moose in the Caboose
The honest truth is that most of us end up dragging a trail of expensive, unneeded things around like a dragnet—small subscription-based products that 1) you never use and 2) aren’t really providing any real value in our professional lives. Why? Because we’re either too emotional about it or too lazy to track down the cancellation process.
Smart creatives and entrepreneurs regularly cut the cruft and don’t look back, which is a great policy. They are unemotional and unattached from the tools they use, which is something many of us (myself included) struggle with. The important bit of all this is that if you’re not using it, or you’re not happy with what you’ve got, change it. Don’t be precious.
With that in mind, here’s my response to the above mentioned issues:
I’ve let go of Spark Mail and have returned to Apple Mail on my Macs and Google Mail on my iPads; Fantastical is being switched out for the simple, but powerful, Apple Calendar app; Grammarly has been replaced with simple Google searches, dictionaries, and common sense; and Mailchimp has given way to Substack for my email newsletter. All totaled, that’s a savings of roughly $200/year. Not bad.
The tools we use are important, but they are only tools. The process we employ those tools to support is where our focus should be. Refine your process. Refine your tools. Don’t be precious.