A tale of two tools


Recently I had two epiphanies in the tooling I use.

The first one happened as I was tired of my development environment being too slow when I was developing on Windows. I have a very powerful Mac Book Pro with a lot of RAM and an SSD hard disk, I did not spare any money on my main working tool. For my virtualization needs I was using Virtual Box, the free virtualization software from Oracle. I considered Boot Camp as the obvious choice to have the maximum raw power, but two things discouraged me:

  • it did not support the new Apple M1 processor, so when I upgrade my machine, I will have to find another solution
  • it requires doing my work completely on Windows and losing all my beloved Mac applications, at least while I am developing. Also, I need to restart to switch OSes.

Before taking the big Boot Camp step, I decided to try Parallels and was really surprised. It took me one day ditch both Boot Camp and Virtual Box and decide buying licence. Parallels literally changed the way I work. The integration was seamless, it simplified a lot of my mixed-OS workflows, those which required to work on some Mac application with a Windows application and it is SOOOOOOO fast, almost like having the full processor and RAM of my Mac Book Pro available entirely for the development machine.

The second one was when I discovered a feature I did not know in MS Excel. I realized that if I could use that in combination with my personal finance tool (Ledger) , I could literally skip a bunch of manual labour I usually did and almost completely automate the data entry part. It took me 2 hours to get the workflow right. The time saved with the new workflow was 10x. It not only enabled me to do MUCH more than before, but I considered doing stuff that I usually left out, because I really try to do the minimum in the personal finance area of my life (well, who enjoys that). Even if the improvement was so big, since I spend as little as possible time in personal finance matters. However, I see how this will be a big time saver in the next tax season.

Now, in a more abstract way, in these two situations we have:

  • On the one hand, a tool that greatly simplifies and improves your life, but it is just an incremental improvement. Doing the same things that you did before, but faster and more efficiently
  • On the other hand, a factor of 10x in your productivity, which changes everything. It is like saying that you could work 1 hour every day, take the rest of the day, and do the exact same things you did before. Of course, this level of change requires not only being faster and more efficient, but doing things in a completely different way.

One improves the quality of your life, the other changes your life. In my case, my 10x improvement was in a part of my life that where the impact is limited (I don’t spend too much time on my personal finances), but can you imagine what a 10x or even 5x improvement would change in your life? In your business? That is the power having the right tools and knowing how to use them well.

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