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.

7 Principles of "Idea Dumping"

7 Idea Dumping Tips (How To Manage Diarrhea of the Brain) at LifeDev

LifeDev lays out some good tips for "idea dumping," based on these seven ideas.

  1. ALWAYS carry paper
  2. Be descriptive when writing it down
  3. Plan for not planning on it
  4. Good environments matter
  5. Think big picture down
  6. Organize your thoughts
  7. Know when to stop

Of course I'm a big fan of #1, but I also think there's some terrific advice in #3 (Plan for not planning on it):

One problem with the way we typically brainstorm is this: it’s unnatural. We bang our heads against the wall while chanting “think, think”. If you’re like me, your brain doesn’t like to be told what to do. The second I sit down and “make” myself be creative, my brain goes on lockdown. Nothing in, nothing out. There’s no such thing as forced creativity.

I’ve found that the best way to allow your mind to form ideas is when I’m doing something else. You have to be ready at anytime to jot something down. I know this point is a lot like #1, but I can’t stress it enough.

About Merlin

Merlin's picture


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.

This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

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This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »