Have you ever bought a new app or planner with the secret hope that it would finally make you organized? How about a new electronic gadget that promises better productivity? Most of us have excitedly clicked the Buy Now button, sure that this purchase would be the answer to our problem.
Then buyer’s remorse sets in when weeks pass and the item hasn’t even been used after trying it out a couple of times.
Tools don’t manage. Only you, a real live person, can manage and organize.
Programs and apps and gadgets are only useful if they save you time or money or make things physically easier.
For instance, a smartphone was one of the best equipment purchases I ever made. I was quickly able to use it for customer support for my beginning business, and to update Social Media. Ditto for a wireless printer, a laptop and a favorite list-making app.
Not so much the membership software, twenty other list-making apps I tried and a certain model of e-Reader.
Duds. For me, anyway.
I chalked it up to experience and vowed to be more discerning in future purchases. But shiny objects beckon with their alluring promises.
Recently I visited the office supply store—twice—to look at a cool notebook system with adjustable rings and colored dividers and special paper. The leather cover came in beautiful colors. I thought I could hear it calling my name, but mercifully realized that the paper refills were expensive and the colors were the main attraction.
Someone else might find the system useful or even necessary. The trick is to figure out what really, truly works for you—before you buy it.
Here are some questions to help you discern whether you need the shiny object:
Do you already own something similar? Are you using it on a regular basis?
Do you need it NOW? Or are you buying it “just in case?”
Would something you already own serve the same purpose?
Do you want to store, maintain, service and learn how to use it?
Can I wait two days to buy it or am I being drawn in by the marketing?
Even when your tools do what they’re supposed to do, sometimes they can slow you down. When handwriting on a sticky note is faster and gets the job done, forget the computer.
Simply getting the job done trumps technology.
Smartphones, laptops, planners, software and apps are necessary tools for every busy business owner. They can help us be productive, show up on time and keep track of our stuff.
Just make sure that you don’t overload on unnecessary gadgets that end up unused or, worse yet, complicating your life. If you’ve been doing just fine with a simple system, resist the temptation to buy the latest and greatest just to keep up with everyone else.
Tools should simplify and support your tasks, not do them for you, replace you or make up for bad planning.
New toys and shiny objects can be fun and maybe even useful—as long as you’re honest with yourself about what you need and what you will actually use. Happy shopping!