I'm a big fan of using tools to get work done. That might not be a surprise, as I work for Redgate Software, where we make tools to help you work with SQL Server. Certainly I find it hard to write code without SQL Prompt, as I've become used to the amazing intellesense it provides. In fact, I sometimes find myself a little crippled without it. I'm lucky in that most of my employers have been willing to pay for third party tools to make my job easier. I think most of them find that these tools pay for themselves because I get more work done with less effort.
However, not all tools cost money, and there are plenty of tools that you can add to your toolbelt to become a better developer or DBA at your organization. Perhaps the best thing you can do is learn to write better T-SQL. Erik Darling had an interesting post this week on removing functions from the WHERE clause. I didn't give you specifics, but he does have a few ideas on things to think about Erik writes great posts on performance tuning, and you ought to read his posts every week in this newsletter.
There are plenty of other T-SQL experts that can help you out. From our Stairway Series on T-SQL to Jeff Moden's T-SQL articles to Dwain Camp's posts (RIP, Dwain) to various posts from Drew Allen, Jonathan Roberts, and many more. You can learn a lot by reading and practicing the various techniques others write about and share on a regular basis. I'm not a great T-SQL guru, and I constantly learn from these indivudals and others.
In addition, you might go back to the basics. Monica Rathbun wrote about features that help you get the best performance on Linux, but really these are features that you should be using on Windows if they fit your workload. If you don't know how to use any of these features, Monica has links, and we have more articles at SQLServerCentral to help you.
Tools aren't just those things you pay for. Tools can be written by you, others, or purchased. These are the scripts, utilities, and most importantly, knowledge, that you use to solve issues. Take time time to ensure you are constantly looking to grow the tools at your disposal.