43 Folders

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43 Folders: Best of GTD

NPR: Tech Junkies Crazy About 'Getting Things Done'

As an insufferably huge public broadcasting nerd, I was happy to hear (via our pal, Ryan) that 43 Folders was mentioned in tonight's All Things Considered story about Getting Things Done.

Since this may be the first time some folks have visited the site, I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite GTD posts from the past four years. We talk about lots more than GTD here, but it's definitely a lot of my readers' favorite topic.

Thanks for stopping by. Ton of links after the jump...

GTD cover

  • Getting started with ‘Getting Things Done’ - “So you sprint from fire to fire, praying you haven’t forgotten anything, sapped of anything like creativity or even the basic human flexibility to adapt your own schedule to the needs of your friends, your family or yourself. Your ‘stuff’ has taken over your brain like a virus now, dragging down every process it touches and rendering you spent and virtually useless. Sound familiar?”
  • How does a geek hack GTD? - “So I wanted to start a conversation about how geeks handle their lists, their projects, and their agendas–not so much in terms of the tool they use to store the information, although that’s fair game–as with how they segment the information and decide when to break it into pieces.”
  • Next actions: Both physical and visible - “But, for me, turning anxieties into projects and projects into discrete physical behaviors has a lot of appeal. It takes all the pressure off your brain and puts it back where it belongs: on your eyes, on your hands, and on that fat ass you need to get into gear.”
  • Does this ‘next action’ belong someplace else? - “I’ve noticed that there are often items on my ‘next actions’ list that hang around a lot longer than they should. I scan and rescan and sort and add and delete, but there’s always a few stragglers who hang out there for a week or more. Eventually this starts to vex me, and I try to debug why things aren’t getting done.”
  • Mental dialogues, yak-shaving & the triumph of the ‘mini-review’ - “My mini-review falls somewhere between the glances I give my lists throughout the day and the comprehensive weekly review I do each weekend. It’s basically a 10-minute metamoment where I stop working and just try to re-focus on my goals, and the tactical adjustments needed to get them moved forward today.”
  • What are you ‘waiting on?’ - “The thread that runs through all of these is that the onus is on me to a) make sure these items represent part of a commitment I’ve made, and b) make sure they actually get done (even if it’s not my direct responsibility); otherwise, they should get moved onto my ‘Maybe/Later’ list, right?”
  • A Year of Getting Things Done - (3-part series: 1, 2, 3) - “I recently realized that this month marks one year since I started using Getting Things Done in earnest. With the calendar year closing, it seems like an apt time to look back at what’s worked, what hasn’t, and where I’d like to see GTD heading in the future.
  • Choosing a daily GTD action plan - “I employ an informal Getting Things Done action strategy that’s similar to the one Chris lays out in his post. I often have a theme for a given day, where I choose an approach that’s suited to my mood, my energy level, and the kind and amount of work on my TODO list. (I’m especially a fan of days where I knock down ‘mosquito tasks’ as Chris calls them.)”
  • Fractal Implementation, or, On the Dangers of David Allen’s Finger - “This is my stake in the ground about GTD: if you can stay focused on drawing from its best practices to get more of the important things in your life accomplished, then you’ll be a happy kid. For real. But if, like a seeming majority of people I encounter these days, you allow yourself to obsess endlessly over the minutest details of implementation and maintenance—well, you’re screwed. You’re wasting your time.”
  • Inbox Zero: Processing to zero - “The more email you have been neglecting in your inbox, the more drastic and ruthless your processing must be.”
  • Do a fast “mind-sweep” - “By and large, you’ll discover, your head is flooded with this stuff that you aren’t or haven’t been doing anything about. Not coincidentally, this is almost always stuff that represents some kind of incompletion, functional fuzziness, or procrastination on your part.”
  • Simplify your contexts - “If you feel a gnaw about the loss of your old contexts, try to shunt some of the mental load into sub-projects and better verb choices in your tasks.”
  • Folders for organization and action - “But, as ever, if you’re fussing and thinking and fiddling and wondering about this stuff, you aren’t doing it, and dammit, that’s what this is all about.”
  • Priorities don’t exist in a vacuum - “Unless you can always satisfy the big red letter commitments you’ve created for yourself — as well as the ones that are constantly being generated for you by others — an obsession with priority alone is pointlessly stress-inducing, unhealthy, and unrealistic.”
  • 6 powerful “look into” verbs (+ 1 to avoid) - “Decisions can only be delivered after you’ve nourished them with timely and thought-provoking information.”
  • Productive Talk Compilation: 8-episode podcast with GTD’s David Allen - “Hope you all enjoy hearing the whole series, in order, all in one place. There’s some nuggets of GTD gold in there, if I do say so myself.”

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.”




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