Master Your Tools

In France, evidence exists that even thousands of years ago people made visual records of their current events. It is likely that rock or pieces of charred wood were used to make these drawings. Throughout the world is other evidence that people have been drawing and writing for a long time. Tools were refined and improved as technology advanced.

However, even when drawing on a cave wall with a charred stick, there’s a right way and a wrong way to hold the stick. If you hold the charred end, only your hands will be left with evidence of your efforts. These early artists had to master their simple tools.

Lascaux Cave Paintings

Mastery of tools is what separates amateurs from professionals. I love photography and have a digital single lens reflex camera (SLR) that enables me to customize the aperture, shutter speed, white balance, and many other parameters. Once I’ve taken several pictures, I can take the SD memory card out of the camera and transfer the photos to my computer where I can edit them using Adobe Photoshop or some other program. Like my SLR camera, Photoshop is replete with so many parameters and features that it take can many hours of study, reading, and experimentation to learn all of the different effects, tools, and ways to manipulate your images.

Most of the time I just use my phone camera to take pictures. The native camera app allows me to edit the pictures as soon as I take them wherever I am. If I need a deeper level of editing, I can turn to any of the many photography apps I have installed. Most of these apps allow me to share photos directly to the internet on Facebook, Flickr, Instagram and similar sites.

Even though I enjoy photography, I am not a professional photographer. The time and energy needed to master the SLR camera and sophisticated editing software does not interest me. I want to take and edit photos quickly. However, I have learned how to use the features of my phone’s camera and editing apps. Filters within various apps get me where I want my photos to be.

Below are some reasons why you should master your tools.

Maximize productivity – By taking advantage of shortcuts and built-in features, you can maximize your productivity. You can take repetitive actions faster and more efficiently.

Inspire others through creative approaches – By fully using your tools – whether a phone camera or office productivity software – someone will eventually ask, “How did you do that?”

Share tips with others – Mastery of the tools you use will build your competency so that you not only have more skills, but can also share information with others.

Make more creative choices – Tool mastery results in a large “toolbox” of how to approach situations.

Save money on new technology – Old technology can often achieve good results, without spending additional money for the latest, greatest technology. I heard this before … “The best camera is the one you have with you.” So, fully utilize what you have.

Recognize techniques of others – When you see the product of others, instead of wondering, “How did they do that?” you will be able to understand how those products were created. This applies to creative hobbies (painting, photos, bullet journaling), practical hobbies (gardening, cooking) and school/office skills (formatting a document, analyzing data).

Develop source material for blogs and videos – As a periodic blogger, I can tell you that coming up with a steady stream of ideas for blogs is challenging. By mastering your tools, you can use the things you learn to create content … blog posts, videos, podcasts, etc.

Regardless of the technology you use, you can find tips by searching on the Internet. Additionally, most of the user manuals or online help sites will provide information on features and shortcuts.

See all posts in this series.

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