Graham Barnard

Sharpening Tools




Sharpening Tools

Posted by Graham Barnard on .

Being a full time Salesforce developer, I spend 95% of my time developing in Sublime. I’ve recently been inspired when listening to Sharpening Tools with Ben Orenstein and have started to level up my usability with my tools.

The Process

I highly suggest listening to the Ruby Rogues podcast to see how Ben Orenstein works on sharpening his tools, but this is my abbreviated version which works well for me.

During the day, one of the following situations comes up:

  • My current tool is ineffecient for solving a specific problem
  • My current solution is repetitive and could be automated
  • My co-worker solve a problem I didn’t even know I had

When this happen, I add a new card to my Tool Sharpening Trello Board which uses a simple Kanban approach. Every morning, I spend 15 minutes on one of the items looking into alternative tools, writing custom code or learning about my current tools.

Once I’m satisfied that I’ve come up with a good solution on a specific task, I move the card into Doing column. Usually only one task is in Doing at a time and I emphasize using the solution until it feels natural to me. If I’m happy with the approach, I’ll move it into Done, otherwise I’ll move it back to To Do and continue doing research.


This approach has a lot of high level similarities with Getting Things Done. By writing down the issues as they arise, your mind doesn’t get sidetracked by the newly discovered problems and you can focus on your current work. As long as you’re consistently following up on these problems, your brain won’t keep thinking about it.

I also found that limiting one To Do item at a time is the best balance for me to learn new techniques and not overload my brain with a bunch of new techniques. I’ve been using this Sharpening Tools method for a few months now and I can already see some great improvements in my techniques. They didn’t seem like major problems at the time but they add up real fast.


Graham Barnard

Senior Salesforce Developer