I’m late with my word this week, but I blame it on the tools.

I had something written and all ready to go on Sunday. For weeks I’ve been hearing the quote, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” It reminded me of my New Year struggles with fitness and weight loss, the way that I always focus on one piece of exercise equipment or one way of working out and forget all of the other tools I know about. I thought I would cleverly use this as an example to remind everyone (myself included) to use all of the tools we have to achieve success. Sounds pretty good, right?

Then I decided it would be fun to record my word as an audio file. I figured that would be a good way to mix things up (I don’t want to get TOO boring here, you know). In order to do this, I needed to use a few new tools including a microphone (mine is Bluetooth, wireless and requiring setup) and an online service called Cinch.

First the microphone wouldn’t work. At all. I spent hours trying to get my laptop to recognize it. To add to the frustration, the “comfortable” earpiece wouldn’t stay on my ear. I finally resorted to masking tape, literally fastening the mic to my head so I could continue troubleshooting without having the thing fall off mid-sentence. (It was pretty comical.)

Once the microphone finally worked (can you hear me now?), I couldn’t get Cinch to work. The name implies usability, so I read and reread the directions but never got a usable recording. So I tried recording the message on my laptop sound recorder. Perfect! Except that the file created wasn’t in a Mac-friendly format. I decided to upload it anyway, then found that due to a problem with my internet service (of all the days!) I couldn’t transfer the 1.2 MB file to my website. *sigh* I finally gave up and went sulking off to bed. (I’ve read that some days are like that, even in Australia.)

This morning I realized what a good point this whole experience makes! On Sunday I wrote the whole script for my (failed) chat on a piece of paper with a pencil. In preparation for the post that never was, I took a picture of tools with one of my own favorite tools, my Canon Rebel XT. And here I am writing a post with another old familiar tool.

The quote about the hammer is called Maslow’s hammer, or the law of the instrument, and it refers to a tendency to depend too much on familiar tools. In my quest to incorporate new tools, though, I forgot my own point: you need to use ALL of your tools if you’re going to be successful. There’s a reason that hammer has such a comfy handle, the tape measure is at the top of my toolbox, and the screwdriver feels so familiar in my palm: those tools work. Just like my camera works and my pencil and paper work and my brain works (when it’s not too frustrated by taped-on microphones). They’re always there when I need them.

In spite of these frustrations I’m determined to keep trying to add new tools to the box, new ways to talk with you and keep things more interesting. I’m curious: of all the tools people and businesses use to stay in touch with you, which are you most comfortable with? Do you like reading blogs, or do you like to watch videos or listen to audio clips? Do you enjoy chatting on Facebook or Twitter? Which tools do you find most frustrating? Please share your thoughts!