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.

Unpacking the anxieties on your TODO list

Writer’s Block, Geek-Block, and Procrastination

I like this practical, tactical approach to “cringe-busting” a list of tasks that you’ve been procrastinating. Basically, you write down each thing you want to do as well as the anxiety that’s kept you from doing it.

In the action column you can write big goals or tiny little tasks. Your aim is to end up with at least one task small enough that you can get on with it.

In the anxiety column you can write big over-riding fears, or small concerns, problems, worries. Your aim is to get down to at least one problem that is small enough to be solved.

Both Actions and Anxieties are fractal in nature, recursively-composed of smaller and smaller versions of themselves. Identifying the components is the true battle for the mind-locked geek.

Seems like this exercise (especially when extended with something like “The Five Whys”) could be a great way to smack yourself out of a slump, as well as gain a little insight into the greatest hits of your particular hang-up jukebox.

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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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Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

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