43 Folders

Back to Work

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

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

Bob Parsons' hardass time management

"Not so polite" time saving tips — that work.

Bob Parsons may not win any awards for congeniality, but I like the way he lays down the law on managing your time -- with a focus on not being a victim of your own phone. This is tough, in-your-face talk, but frankly I think it's time we get tougher with the people who demand our time.

In my own opinion, you'll never get out from under until you learn to seize back control of your phone and your email inbox; that's the the two places where the world will never stop hollering for your attention; it's up to you to say "no," and hit delete. After all, if you don't respect how you parcel out your time and attention, why should you expect anyone else to?

A few of Bob's observations:

If a stranger calls me they better get right to the point.
I insist that if someone is calling me and I don’t know them, that they immediately get to the point with what they want. In fact, if I have someone on the line and they start rambling and simply talking about who they are, I will chime in that they have 30 seconds to get to the point. If they don’t immediately get to the point, I hang up. Once they get to the point, if it’s something I’m not interested in, I will simply say, “I’m not interested,” and immediately hang up. If they are foolish enough to immediately call me back –I have found that often some knucklehead feels this tactic might work – I say once again, “I told you I’m not interested” and hang up again. Usually, they never call back...

Customer calls are always important to me.
If the caller is a customer, I always consider the call important and will usually listen to whatever the problem happens to be. I will ask for their name and phone number, and how long they will be at that number. Then I will have one of my customer service people get in touch with them and resolve the issue. Once again, I keep these calls very short and to the point...

I very rarely return any voice message.
If someone leaves their name and number with a message without detailing what they want, it’s been my practice to very rarely return the call. For me to return any call, the message has to be understandable, it has to be of immediate interest to me and it has to be something that I want. If a message left on your phone doesn’t meet these criteria, I think it's nuts to return the call.

Remember: when you call someone, you're demanding instant access to their undivided attention, no matter what they might be doing. If they loan that attention to you, treat it like the golden resource that it is.

[ Thanks, Sean Conlan ]

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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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