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.

Personal Mantras: Got one?

Personal Mantras - 43FoldersWiki

I’ve been digging the personal mantras that people have been adding to the wiki.

It’s interesting to see the different approaches and interests people have been taking; for some it’s an affirmation, for others it’s a motto or creed, and for many it appears to be a persistent reminder about the right thing to do.

My mantra—if you can call it that—is “Smaller, smaller.” It’s a principle more practical than spiritual, I suppose. I say it to myself several times a day to try and always remember that small things are easier to do than big things, and that most big things are really just a pile of small things if you break them up right. In real-world terms, “Smaller, smaller” means:

  • sub-projects
  • small-sized teams
  • modest, achievable goals
  • granular tasks, TODOs, and, yes, “next actions”
  • fast deadlines
  • frequent, but very short, check-in meetings
  • understanding how one piece leads to the next
  • making it hard to fail

There’s been very few times that “Smaller, smaller” has done me wrong. No matter how ambitious a project, idea, or problem is, there’s usually a way to break into very small pieces. Anyhow, that’s mine.

Got a personal mantra or motto of your own? Why’d you choose the one you did?

(And, no, “I believe I’ll have another beer” probably doesn’t count.)

TOPICS: Inspirado, Tips
Ever read E. F.... by John Englert (not verified)
Make it easy to do... by Michael (not verified)
"Do less with less"... by Josh (not verified)
My wife's old professor used... by EdgeWise (not verified)
It doesn't have to be... by Brian (not verified)

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:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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