43 Folders

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Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

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43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Friday night remainders, 2005-02-04

It’s been a while since we’ve had a round of remainders—good stuff I've wanted to mention that never found their way into a full post. Here's a few to chew on over the weekend.

  • Map in your Moleskine - This is one is kind of a super-hack, because it combines several old favorites into one. First, get a map of someplace you’re heading soon (like, say, downtown San Francisco). Print it onto a regular sheet of paper, then apply this totally boss map folding/cutting method to make it into a tiny book. Folded back into quarters, the map booklet fits neatly in the pocket of a large Moleskine.
  • Flame yourself - Grab yourself a free email account from someplace like Gmail or Yahoo! Mail and use it as your private punching bag. Every time you’re tempted to send an ill-advised flame to the latest assclown in your life, send it to your dummy account instead. Log in every few months and read your own vitriol. Experience relief that a long-forgotten flame-out remained your little secret. (From 43F Board of Directors member, Ms. Leslie Harpold)
  • Save the cookies and whiten your teeth - Also courtesy of Leslie, if you’re doing a round of baking—especially for some fancypants event where the shrinkage of nibbled pieces would be noticed and missed—pop in your Crest White Strips for the night right before you start the batter. Temptation obviated for 30 minutes.
  • Entourage Focus - I’ve mostly made my peace with Entourage (for now), but sometimes I still find it hard to rassle a very long list of to-dos into a focused set of tasks for the day. My hack is embarrassingly primitive; create a category called “_focus” and hand-tag each item that needs to get done that day. Toggling between “_focus” and your full list can be a great way to zoom in and out—from trees to forest and back.
  • Hipster Office - Okay, it’s not a whole office exactly, but when I know I’ll be out of the office all day (or when traveling), I always bring an elastic-closure folder (kind of like this) loaded with CD-Rs, blank paper, fresh manila folders, and some extra Hipster PDAs for gifts—basically anything I could need for capturing or sharing information on the road. More than once it’s come in handy just for burning music CDs on my PowerBook to listen to in a rental car.
  • Preschool handle trick - From the 43F Google Group, reader Joe Ganley picked up a great tip from his preschooler’s teacher. “When they need to send an important note home, they wrap it around the handle of her bag and staple it to itself. I now use this a lot — for example, I attach a note to the handle of my briefcase to remind of of something I need to do or bring with me. I also attach notes in the same way to the steering wheel of my car to remind me of things that need to be done or brought the next time I go out.” My kind of hack: brilliant and idiot proof!
  • Cheap-ass index cards - In the “eating your own dogfood” department, I recently bought 1,000 of the blank index cards that I’ve been pimping in the left rail. While your mileage will almost certainly vary, I bought these one night with cheap-ass, whenever-you-get-around-to-it UPS delivery, and they actually arrived the next morning. Nice.
  • Amazon Prime - While we’re at it, I’d put in a positive vote for the new Amazon Prime service. Eighty bucks a year buys you overnight delivery for in-stock items for only $3.99 per item, while two-day delivery is free. If you buy as much Amazon crap as I do, that will pay for itself in less than a month. That's a hell of a good deal.
  • Are you managing actions or just data? - Finally, some words of wisdom I recently picked up from Chairman David (talking about productivity applications): “Actually, it’s fascinating to me that all the gazillions of $$$ have been spent in the software world, just finding slicker ways to input, rearrange, and access data - not how to manage action.” He’s right; if you’re not managing actions, you’re just making lists. Smart fella, that David.

About Merlin

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Merlin Mann is an independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster. He’s best known for being the guy who created the website you’re reading right now. He lives in San Francisco, does lots of public speaking, and helps make cool things like You Look Nice Today, Back to Work, and Kung Fu Grippe. Also? He’s writing this book, he lives with this face, he suffers from this hair, he answers these questions, and he’s had this life. So far.

Merlin’s favorite thing he’s written in the past few years is an essay entitled, “Cranking.”




An Oblique Strategy:
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