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

April, 2006

Open Thread: What's your favorite minimalist wallet?

Like most 43F articles on economical carriage and stowage, the Jimi post attracted a lot of interest. Makes me think it's time for an open thread: What's your favorite minimalist wallet? Jimi? Slimmy? Moneyclip? Coin purse? Goin' commando? Spill in comments (and feel free to link to canonical product pages or price compar-i-nators like Froogle).

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Catching the brain rain

Warm, Partly Cloudy, 100% Chance of Brain Rain

I like James' ideas for catching the "brain rain" -- a way of setting aside a few minutes each day for firewalled creativity through idea generation and capture. This kind of habit could fit nicely into an end-of-day ritual, maybe before a quick review and daily cleanup.

Keys to catching the brain rain:

  • set aside 10 minutes, each and every day
  • have pen and paper handy
  • allow yourself the freedom to think crazy thoughts
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USA Today: Smart CEOs watch how you treat the staff

USATODAY.com - CEOs say how you treat a waiter can predict a lot about character

I was a busboy in junior high and high school and a waiter in college, and I hardily concur that the behavior of a restaurant patron can unintentionally reveal loads about their character.

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TOPICS: Links, Work

Full screen mode update: Close enough

FSM - Before

As an update to my previous post about wishing full-screen mode were more ubiquitous, I wanted to share a combination of apps and tips that's been working well for me (thanks in part to the great comments over in that thread).

Tools you'll need

  • MenuShade - App that dims the blaring Menu bar at the top of the screen
  • SpiritedAway - App that automatically hides inactive applications after n seconds of your choosing
  • BackDrop - App that adds an image or solid color "between" the current/focal application and the Desktop. Designed for taking cleaner screen grabs, but ideal for hiding all those clickable icons

Setting up

FSM - After

  • launch all three of your new apps
  • hide the Dock by selecting "Turn Hiding On" (in the Dock Preferences)
  • set your preference in MenuShade -- I suggest you crank the "Shaded Brightness" far as you can stand to the right (completely hiding the menu bar until you mouseover)
  • set SpiritedAway to clear inactive apps quickly (mine is set to 60 seconds)
  • set Backdrop to "Display: Color" and pick black (or another very dark color)
  • in the pulldown menu of SpiritedAway, add "Backdrop" to the list of "Excluded" applications (this ensures SA doesn't, in fact, spirit your solid background away)
  • open a single document in the app of your choice (and optionally close all configuration windows, palettes, etc.)

Ta-da. A serviceable full screen mode for minimizing distraction and the myriad attractive nuisances in your world. Maybe not as fancy as the built-in functionality in MacJournal, DevonThink, or Ulysses, but close enough for government work -- and usable across the range of apps in your life.

Schedule (and choose) a dash in iCal

If you're a fan of any flavor of the procrastination dash, this one might come in handy for you. I've started scheduling some of my work in time-based dashes -- right in iCal.

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Six cool Quicksilver plugins you might not know

Just a quickie to bubble up some novel Quicksilver plugins that are new-ish or even a bit esoteric.

N.B.: Clicking the linked title of the plugin should install it if you're running a recent version of QS, although I think you should also be able to install most of these right from the Plug-ins Preferences.

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43F Podcast: The Sticky Hipster (and the Case of the Missing Toilet Paper)

Ubiquitous index cards; you'll look completely insane, but feel really relaxed. Just as God intended. (3:10)

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On attention and lightbulbs

Classic joke (originally related by Matt, if memory serves). Sent via email so many times this week that I had to share.

Q: How many people with ADD does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: HEY! Let's ride bikes!!!

Funny 'cuz it's true.


ADT & the catch-and-release distraction program

Why can't you pay attention anymore? | CNET News.com

Ever wonder what all those electronic poking sticks might be doing to your attention span?

Psychiatrist Edward Hallowell has identified a late-onset cousin of ADD that he calls "Attention Deficit Trait," a "condition induced by modern life" and the endless "chatter" generated by our beepy devices and interrupt-driven lifestyles.

I don't know enough to evaluate the rigor of this theory in the eyes of a researcher or physician, but this CNET interview with Hallowell is filled with enough right-on quotes to have me nodding along all day.

(read through, after the cut, for our first Mindfulness Exercise)

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Happy Birthday, Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott

I learned via the Writer's Almanac that today is the birthday of the Bay Area novelist and non-fiction writer, Anne Lamott.

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Mindfulness: The practice of being "here"

As I mentioned in a recent Lifehacker interview with Matt, I've been casting about for a good way to work in my newfound interest in mindfulness, or the ostensibly Buddhist practice of bringing your attention and focus back to the present moment, primarily through breathing and awareness.

Well, here you go: one rank Western novice's collection of blurbs and excerpts on an ancient (yet oddly timely) method for easing yourself back into this moment -- any day, at any time, and in anything you choose to do.

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Writer's Almanac podcast available

Well I'm very happy to note that those 300 daily seconds of The Writer's Almanac are now available as a downloadable podcast. Good on Garrison, and good on APM. (I know Mr. K can be a little nutty with the copyright and trademarks, so I can only imagine this was a decision that came with a certain amount of deliberation.)

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43F Podcast: Putting Geeks in Context

The 43 Folders Podcast

Putting Geeks in Context

43folders.com - One way around the geek's problem with GTD contexts? Step away from the computer. (4:37)

More at Odeo.com...

Subscribe to the 43 Folders Podcast on Odeo.com Subscribe to the 43 Folders podcast in iTunes

Dr. Johnson on reminders

This morning I've been starting to put together a little "Introduction to Mindfulness" post, and I ran across this quote that's been attributed to Dr. Samuel Johnson:

"People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed."

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GTD Prayer

gilest.org: The GTD Prayer

Giles Turnbull has added a long-overdue liturgical element to the world of Getting Things Done.

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Inbox Zero: Wrapup + Open Thread

43 Folders Series: Inbox Zero

So, that's a wrap for Inbox Zero. I hope you've found stuff to make your journey to zero a bit easier and less stressful, and that you've discovered the resolve to parlay your newfound inbox emptitude into an ongoing quest for email fu.

Doubtless I've missed things or neglected to mention one of your favorite tricks. Got a good tool, trick, or attitude change that has helped you keep your inbox empty? Share it in comments.

And in case you got to the party late, here are summaries and links to all the Inbox Zero articles from the entire series:

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Inbox Zero: Better Practices for staying (near) zero

This post is part of the Inbox Zero series.

You've doubtless already discovered your inbox won't stay at zero -- and it shouldn't. As I said yesterday, this is a process, not some miraculous one-time event like a tonsillectomy or a Jandek concert. And you can't just wave a magic wand every couple weeks and make it all go away. Why not use the august occasion of your newly empty inbox as the chance to start mending your ways going forward?

As a person who has done the near-impossible and managed to establish a temporary beachhead against the occupying email army, you are your own best expert in what needs to change to keep things together, but I'd like to share a few things that have helped me stay email-sane (most of the time).

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TOPICS: Email, Tips

iTunes: Kill the gap between tracks

Zero CrossfadeThis may be the dumbest iTunes "trick" ever, but what the heck.

I hate the janky gap between songs when iTunes is playing an album. The transitions between "Ex-Girl Collection" and "Per Second Second" or between "Holland, 1945" and "Communist Daughter" may be subtle, but when they're replaced by a big old quarter-second silent spot, it's just maddening.

So, open up your iTunes Preferences and go to the "Playback" tab, where you can set a "Crossfade playback" of "0." This effectively negates the blank spot by adding an almost imperceptible crossfade between songs. It's not perfect, but it's a damn sight better than the big blank spot.

Thus endeth the dumbest iTunes trick ever.

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Inbox Zero: What have you learned?

This post is part of the Inbox Zero series.

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TOPICS: Email, Tips

Posts, posts, posts.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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