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When I worked in a corporate job, we had a questionnaire handed out to us every 6 months that asked us to grade how the organization was doing. I remember one of the questions was: Do you have the tools and systems that you need to do your job well?

We almost always said “strongly disagree”. We always complained about the systems getting stuck, the computers freezing up or even just not having the right kind of copier paper.

Systems and tools are important. They are important to help you function well and when they break down they cause distress.

Last week, I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get things done because websites weren’t working and systems were broken.

But, it’s important to remember that tools are just one part of the equation. I solemnly believe that many of us had such strong disagreement because we were trying to blame an external force for our shortcomings. I know that’s a bold, sweeping statement but, I will stand by it.

We can always find an excuse. The truth is, we still got our work done even when we didn’t have computers. And yes, I realize that sometimes it’s unavoidable becasue there are things that can only be done on a website. That doesn’t mean you have to be resigned to it.

I spent 2 hours trying to submit the same form. I didn’t need to do that. I should’ve found away to use that time more productively. But, I got stuck in a loop. I tried to force something even when my brain told me that I was failing.

Sometimes, we need to identify what’s working and what’s not. Sometimes we need to identify if what’s not working is worth fixing. Sometimes we need to accept when we are beat at something and when it’s time to walk away and try later.

But, most importantly, we need to realize that the fault lies in us. The tools and systems are simply aids and while having a good system will definitely help you work better, it doesn’t mean that you can’t work when the system fails.