It’s All About What You Want to Do

25 May, 2023

A few years ago, I was chatting with a co-worker and our conversation turned to bicycles. Her son was thinking about buying a bike but couldn’t decide what kind. His needs were simple — he wanted to get from home to work and back with the minimum of fuss.

I suggested that her son get a folding bike. I’d been riding one for several years at that point and really enjoyed it. A folder seemed to be a good choice for her son’s needs.

She said that was one of the options her son was exploring, but that A friend told me folding bikes are useless. The friend who pooh-poohed folders, it turns out, was an avid mountain biker. One who couldn’t see beyond his niche.

I’ve run into this conceit many, many times over the years. The idea that unless a something suits the needs of a particular person, that something is universally useless.

One person’s useless is another person’s useful. Is, say, a ball-peen hammer useless because it can’t pull nails? Of course not! To believe otherwise is just bad, blinkered thinking.

When looking at anything — whether a productivity tool, a computer, a pair of shoes, a bicycle, or a portable camping stove — you need to view it through the lens of what you want to do. Your needs are what matter, not the opinions of an expert or a guru or a blowhard.

Why? Your needs are different from theirs. Those experts and gurus can nudge you in the right direction. What works for them might not work for you. It could be, for example, that you only need Todo.txt rather than Todoist or Remember the Milk to track your tasks.

By focusing on your needs, you’ll wind up with something that best suits you. You won’t be stuck with something that’s too complex or convoluted for your purposes.

Scott Nesbitt