Toolbox Fallacy Is Holding You Back

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Procrastination: The Effectiveness of Well-Structured Checklists in Preventing it

Toolbox fallacy may be something you have never of before but it is an extremely common procrastination trap. Everyone has experienced this type of procrastination at some point in their work or home life. I’ve got a confession to make. I’m guilty of the toolbox fallacy which is a tough pill to swallow.

Justifying why you are not doing something because of something else that is missing, self-deception.

But how do you overcome this?

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What is the toolbox fallacy?

Toolbox fallacy is simple to have you ever thought or said this “Once I have this, I can do that.” Well, that is the toolbox fallacy.

The toolbox fallacy refers to the idea that you can only achieve something when you have the right proverbial tools in your toolbox.

Have you ever convinced yourself that you can only work towards your goals, and dreams when the moment is right, or when you have the right tools in your toolbox? The problem is, there’s never a perfect moment because other things and life get in the way.

Self-deception disguised as an excuse. Believing that you need certain tools for the goal to succeed thus, can’t (or won’t) start a journey without them.

When you do find yourself with some time on your hands, you fill it up with busy work that prevents you from making progress toward your goals and what you really want to accomplish, for instance like starting an exercise routine or writing your first novel or launching your own business.

Why do we feel like this when we have come up with a plan and set out how we will accomplish our goals?

Example of Toolbox Fallacy

For example, let’s say that you want to learn to play the guitar. Are you going to sit down with an instrument until you are ready? No! Because that would be crazy!

Continuing with playing the guitar. Do you really need the most expensive guitar to start? Must you have guitar lessons? Lessons have a cost implication and a time factor which can add to the reason you are not doing it but making excuses why you can’t do it yet even though you have dreamed of playing the guitar.

Wanting to learn to play golf, you will need golf clubs to play golf, but you don’t need the most expensive best equipment to start. You don’t need to be a member of the best golf club around in this process.

A healthier lifestyle, you believe you need an expensive gym membership, but one you have that you believe you need the best possible fitness tracker watch (Fitbit or Apple watch) and then the top of the range clothes or equipment because that will make such a huge difference.

Having a saw is not what makes you a carpenter be able to use it does.

Want to write a book but you need a better laptop but writers can use pen and paper, chalk on a board, or carve it into a piece of wood.

Let’s go on to one of the biggest dreams most people have like starting your own business. This can be scary

The Fear of Failure

So why does the Toolbox fallacy happen? It happens because some of us prefer excuses why we are not doing something than run the risk and fear of failure.

Failure is our biggest fear in life, well the perceived negative consequences, doing something wrong, not meeting your own expectations, or looking silly which may follow the potential failure.

All goals and dreams need some tools before starting, however, generally, the barriers you see are much lower than what you believe they are. 

Toolbox Fallacy To Do List

 In reality, there are no tools that will make life-changing achievements possible — only yourself. So what do you need to get started? That’s up to you to decide.

Focus on what you can control and your ability and actually start. It sounds crazy but you must start somewhere? 

Create a to-do list but make sure you break each task into small manageable sizes so you don’t feel overwhelmed. The smaller and simpler the task you can work through and start ticking off what you have achieved so far which will give you a big boost in confidence. This to-do list can become your plan of achieving your goals.

Frequently asked questions
Looking for more info? Here are some things we're commonly asked
Productivity Procrastination
  • To Do List Preventing Procrastination

    Organisation is one way to beat procrastination, which is why checklists work so well. People who use written to-do lists tend to procrastinate less than those who rely on mental checklists. Including to-do lists in your daily activities can improve your workflow significantly.

    Read More: Procrastination: The Effectiveness of Well-Structured Checklists in Preventing it

  • Task List Help you achieve goals

    Whilst it may sound simply like a 'list of tasks', this isn’t entirely true. The most important part of creating your task list is not what’s on the list per se – it’s the person who will be completing the tasks – you. You’re the creator, so it’s your responsibility to make it work for you.

    Read More: Task List: Help you keep organised and achieve goals

  • Eat the Frog First

    Some tasks are more important than others, and there will also be tasks you’d prefer not to do at all. Your frog is the one task you have on your to-do list that you feel no enthusiasm for. It is also the one task you’re more likely to procrastinate on.

    Read More: Eat the Frog: Tackling the most Challenging Task First

  • Best Productivity Books

    Reading about productivity can inspire you to create an atmosphere that lets you do more.

    Learn how to avoid procrastination and develop skills that will make you more productive.


    Read More:  Best Productivity Books

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