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This article was published on July 23, 2020

Stop counting on tools to fix your work problems

It won't fix your biggest problem: You

Stop counting on tools to fix your work problems

Boris is the wise ol’ CEO of TNW who writes a weekly column on everything about being an entrepreneur in tech — from managing stress to embracing awkwardness. You can get his musings straight to your inbox by signing up for his newsletter!

A few weeks ago I got an invite to try Hey.com. It’s a new email app made by 37signals, and I got in early enough to register [email protected]. The beginnings were great. I was on top of my email and figured that this could be the tool to help me manage my inbox better — or so I thought…

It’s been a few weeks now and I have 16 drafts open, too many emails to even know where to start, and a general feeling of anxiety before I even open the app. What went wrong?

Me. I’m what’s wrong.

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No tool in the world can fix what’s wrong with me — but I keep thinking it can. Somehow I always believe a new pen will make me write better. A new laptop will help me work faster. A new to-do list will help me get organized. A new email app will finally help me get on top of my email.


The fault is not with the tool. The inefficiency of my to-do list isn’t at fault for me not getting my to-dos done. No email app is ever going to answer my complicated emails. No tool is going to make the tasks I dislike more likeable.

Answering emails is hard, and no matter how fancy your email app, that email isn’t going to write itself. There’s no tool smart enough to cure human stupidity, so maybe we should stop looking for it.

Getting things done means putting in the work. It’s a mental state that you will need to get into. You can spend your days looking for a sharper axe, but at some point you will have to do the actual work.

Can’t get enough of Boris? Check out his older stories here, and sign up for TNW’s newsletters here.

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