I bought a Leatherman tool a few months back, thinking that having one multi tool in my bag or fishing tackle box would solve all the problems of finding that perfect screwdriver or pry or opener that always seems to hide itself from you when you need it the most. I have already used it to cut down cardboard boxes for recycling, to put together a pair of Adirondack chairs for the porch upstairs and to fetch an embedded hook from the throat of a largemouth bass. It is built well, it’s rugged and it’s complete. What more could you need, right?
I have also used other multi tools, including a laptop and desktop computer, an iPad, a multi pen, and others that claim to make life easier by having everything you could possibly need in hand at any time. They deliver on their promises,but are they as satisfying to use as single tools made for a single job?
Back when I was in medical school and residency, pens and paper were the lifeblood of medical charts and orders and notes. Cross pens (remember those?) were easily recognized in pockets and hands. They were given as gifts, singly or in little blue felted lined boxes with equally silvery shiny mechanical pencils. Mont Blancs were a step up, and of course I had a maroon one that I loved. Perfectly weighted, felt good in the hand, wrote smoothly. What more could you ask for, right?
Reading used to be accomplished by holding things called books, (You remember those too, right?), a single target use device that was made to entertain, impart knowledge or provide in hand research after rifling throughout wonderfully musty card catalogues at your local library. More recently, we have iPads, Kindles and a host of other electronic reading devices that may or may not do fifteen other things that distract you from that primary goal of reading. (Check Twitter! Check email! Order from Amazon.com!) Better, or not?
I often had a good natured argument with several friends and coworkers about the actual existence of multitasking and whether or not it could actually be accomplished in any meaningful and productive way. Our brains are made to focus on one thing at a time, and we do not do multiple tasks well all at one time. Is it better to be a jack of all trades and a master of none, or…
So, now that I have had access to laptops, iPads, multi use audio devices, multipens, and multi tools, I have come to the realization that I love the thought, feel and process of using one tool at a time for one job at a time most of the time.
Give me my book, my superbly weighted pocketknife, a throwaway Uniball Signo DX pen, and a good notebook anytime. I will be satisfied, productive, and happy.