The Toolchest Series

Photo by Flickr user katerha

Photo by Flickr user katerha

January is a great time to get some work done on all those little things that are neglected the rest of the year as external pressures take priority. Many people are still on holiday, or are transitioning from relaxation to work, so there aren’t as many meetings, and the first quarter has only just begun.

One thing I like to do periodically is to take stock of my tools and processes, and January is a great time to do it. I can look with fresh eyes on old methods. Some I improve, some I replace, and some I discard altogether.

This year, I’m going to share with you some of my tools and techniques, honed over many years of a professional consulting life. This is the first time I’ve done a full-toolbox stocktake in years, so I’m actually looking forward to it.

In drafting this series, I was somewhat amazed at just how many separate tools I use, far too many to write a separate piece on each one. Instead, I’ll be bundling them together in semi-logical chunks, based around what I use them for.

Because that’s the essence of tool selection: they are used to get a job done; a job that you can do more effectively with the tool than without. Through this gradual refinement process, I gradually improve my tool choice, as well as how I use them (through my processes). I enjoy the practice of the craft, and the pursuit of mastery. Plus, there’s a little thrill whenever I discover a shortcut, some little trick or obscure feature, that automates something I used to do the slow way.

I’m going to talk about two kinds of tools, the kind that use electricity, which I’ll refer to as “Tech Tools” and the non-power-chewing kind, which I’ll call “Non-Tech Tools”. Most of the tools on my list are tech tools, but it might surprise you to learn how I use some of the non-tech tools.

These tools and techniques are what I use, and I’ve enjoyed quite a bit of success with them, but they’re just one possible answer. If you get a great result from a different set of tools, excellent! I hope that you’ll share what you use and how. Hopefully we can learn from one another and discover improvements to the way we do things.

Onwards to the rest of the series!

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