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.

The Tu Lan Files: Interviewed by Brian Oberkirch

An Interview with Merlin Mann at Like It Matters

Wow, I completely forgot about this. One day, when my pal Brian was in town, we hit Tu Lan and hung out for an hour or so talking about all kinds of stuff related to 43F, productivity, and how to blow lots of time trying too hard to be productive.

Given the noise level at the restaurant, I'm amazed he could transcribe the conversation, but here you go. Considering I was high on vietnamese food, there's actually some pretty good bits in there:

Brian: Can you over obsess about being hyperproductive and fiddling with the tools? If you get too meta with it, you’ll never get it done.

Merlin: It’s not just about productivity. Productivity implies that by changing a few things, you can produce more output. Efficiency might be a better way to put it. Or flow. The idea that when you’re in the right set of circumstances, you lose track of time, you’re completely in the moment, and you are just doing the things you need to do without any metalayer to it at all. You’re just doing it. I think what a lot of people are searching for, when they are going through all these fractal systems, is how to get into that zone. That’s why things like Quicksilver, vim, when you are really good at it, you don’t think about it anymore. You don’t think about the tools. A carpenter doesn’t think about every stroke of his hammer. It’s a flow state

and later...

So you do see some people running constantly from one technology to the next, constantly trying to find this theoretically perfect system or theoretically perfect tool. I ran into this thing for a while, and it never occurred to me — there were these people who would want to adopt everything I talked about on the site. To me, this would be like getting the AAA magazine and feeling like I had to visit every place that month. It’s like, hey, whoa guys, easy. We’re just talking here. This is stuff for you to look at and think about and to help you make decisions. Not to run from system to system every day.

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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