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

November, 2006

Productive Talk Compilation: 8-episode podcast with GTD's David Allen

Download MP3 of "Productive Talk Compilation"

As promised, here's the single-file compilation of the Productive Talk podcast interviews I did with David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done. The final version's eight episodes clock in at a considerable one hour and twenty-six minutes, so this should give you plenty to listen to while you're in line at the DMV.

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David Seah on wall-based productivity pr0n

David Seah explores a treasure trove of lo-fi productivity pr0n, as provided by the vertical-surface-loving folks at Magnatag:

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Bandwagon: Links not to miss, 2006-11-27

A few of the links that have been pretty popular on other sites, which I’d be remiss not to mention in passing here:

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HOWTO cook a moister turkey: Ice it, pilgrim

Although I’m not much of a hand at generating tasty birdflesh, I heard a great tip a while back, gleaned from Mr. Harold McGee, author of the all-time-awesome geek food book, On Food & Cooking.

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Fun and functional ways to trick out your htaccess file

This is a terrific collection of tricks for hacking on your Apache htaccess file, including some very useful ways to save bandwidth, control site access, and generally wreck havoc.

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David Allen on GTD's future (and why it just works, as is)

Productive Talk #08: GTD 2.0?

43 Folders and The David Allen Company present the eighth in a series of conversations that David and Merlin recently had about Getting Things Done.


In this episode, Merlin asks David one of the most popular questions about GTD; if he could write the book all over again today, what would he do differently? David addresses how people’s understanding of GTD evolves on repeated exposures, as well hinting at future plans for making GTD easier for people to start and maintain. He makes some great points on learning to pay attention to your "higher altitudes," and wraps up by underscoring the importance of not having to rethink every task throughout the day. (13:11)

Grab the MP3, learn more at Odeo.com, or just listen here (after the cut).

Merlin's comments

If you bend David Allen's ear for more than 30 seconds about GTD, you'll hear some variation of a phrase that I heard a lot over the couple days we hung out in Ojai: "It's all in the book!"

Say what you will about The David, but he is not a man who suffers from The George Lucas Complex. Much to the consternation of his publishers, his fans, and -- one suspects -- even some of his colleagues, David feels like he has already written the complete and definitive work on the Getting Things Done system. And he very clearly has no desire to futz with that basic system without a good reason; it's sound and complete, as is, and there you go. Next subject.

And, I have to say, in a lot of ways, I've come to really admire this.

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Vox Pop: Sell me on manual email filing

tow.com » MsgFiler

Lots of the kids are excited about the arrival of MsgFiler, which is a neat litte app for helping you file away your messages in Mail.app:

MsgFiler is a plug-in for Apple Mail which quickly files emails into existing mailbox folders. MsgFiler’s fast searching means you just have to type a few characters to find the right mailbox. Move selected messages with a click or open a mailbox without having to navigate the mailbox folder pane. MsgFiler is optimized for keyboard-only usage, perfect for Apple Mail power users.


But I'll just play devil's advocate on this one: if you find yourself inordinately excited about the arrival of this (admittedly clever) application, there's an excellent chance that your email archiving system is unnecessarily complex and, in fact, is in need of a major streamlining. Discuss.

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Update: 43f Deals & Discounts

Just some quick reminders and news on a few current discounts and special deals available for 43f readers.

In somewhat related news, the Working and Living Life Smarter Conference announced last month is being rescheduled to a TBD date next year. Registrants have been notified and received refund info, but you should feel free to ask any questions to either the conference's organizer, Kay Ethier (sales at aboveandbeyondlearning daht com), or me. Will update when the new dates are announced -- I imagine that we'll have another discount to offer for 43f readers.

GTD: Project Verbs vs. Next-Action Verbs

In implementing Getting Things Done, you're wise to understand that words are powerful things. And the king of words in GTD, as in life, is the verb.

How you articulate an activity or how you choose to frame a project within the context of your larger life and work will say a lot about how successful you can be in turning all your "stuff" into atomic actions that will work in support of valuable outcomes. This starts with simple things like beginning next actions with a physical verb, but there's actually a lot more subtlety (and potential confusion) to it.

In fact, one of the hang-ups that many people encounter in planning their work in GTD is that, no matter how hard they try, they can never seem to get the distinction between single-action verbs and the larger "look-into" style projects that may require sub-actions. This comes up a lot, and it can lead to frustration and untold friction.

Well, if you've ever shared this affliction of not knowing your verbs from a hole in the ground, I have some rare and unexpected GTD gold.

Buried in the companion booklet for the Getting Things Done FAST! CD set (currently out of print) is one of the more useful bits of GTD instruction I've seen outside the book. It's a list of "Project Verbs" versus "Next-Action Verbs" and, man, is it ever useful.

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David Allen on best practices for implementing GTD

Productive Talk #07: Implementing GTD

43 Folders and The David Allen Company present the seventh in a series of conversations that David and Merlin recently had about Getting Things Done.


In this episode, David and Merlin look at best practices for implementing Getting Things Done. David shares some great advice on firewalling review time and warns us how to avoid the perils of "cruise control." (9:37)

More at: http://www.davidco.com/ and http://www.43folders.com/

Grab the MP3, learn more at Odeo.com, or just listen here (after the cut).

Merlin's comments

My favorite bit in this one (jump to 1:38) is where we learn that some of David's best stuff seems to have had a genesis in an unlikely place -- from his tenure as the manager of a gas station, back in the day.

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Revenge of the Smart Playlist: 5 tricks for packrats & power users

The success of yesterday's post on the basics of Smart Playlists makes me think you might enjoy seeing a few more. So, today I want to show you how to get control of a very large iTunes library -- to save space by getting rid of stuff you're not enjoying or listening to, as well as bubble up stuff you may not even realize you like.

If you are an iTunes packrat but feel overwhelmed by your collection (or are simply running out of drive space), try these recipes for Smart Playlists to help you get it together.

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"Music Only" for your iTunes playlists

New for Friday 11/10:
Revenge of the Smart Playlist: 5 tricks for packrats & power users »

In my MacBreak Weekly capacity as Vice-President in Charge of Digging Pointless Ratholes™, I recently mentioned some tricks that I use to create better playlists in iTunes. One of these tricks -- which is an oldie, and which I'm certain I yoinked from some uncredited smarter person out in the blogtropolis -- is to create a "Music Only" list.

So you know how you have increasing buttloads of non-music (podcasts, audio books, etc.) in your iTunes library? It's really annoying to throw on one of your sexy Smart Playlists or the Party Shuffle, only to have a 20 minute nap or a Noam Chomsky lecture kick in.

I get around this by basing almost all my Smart Playlists on my one canonical "Music Only" list, which currently looks like this:

Music Only

Yes, it's very hacky, and yes there's probably a more elegant way to accomplish this effect, but so far it's been a handy jumping off point for my favorite Smart Playlists. This helps me build stuff like...

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Particletree: Excellent email guide roundup

Particletree » A Guide to Email Roundup

Over on the lovely Particletree, Chris Campbell has posted a valuable collection of links for tips on dealing with email.

Email is fantastic. We use it to stay in touch with friends, contact clients, and handle support requests. It’s easy to use, low cost, and less intrusive than a phone call or meeting. But with email being such an integral part of our lives, are we using it as effectively as possible? To find out, have a look at the techniques these articles recommend on ensuring that your messages are read.

What I like about his choices (including, I suppose, the 43f link *blush*) is the focus on _results_. Instead of being about simply the blah-blah-blahs of netiquette and style, these are suggestions on how best to get something accomplished -- and, yeah, sometimes that means just knowing how to keep it standard, simple, and easy to grok. Very good, tactical, battlefield stuff.

I especially dug Kaitlin Duck Sherwoods exhaustive 'Beginner's Guide to Effective Email' (ca. 1995!), which was new to me, and which I do recommend checking out. Even for the veterans out there, it might be useful to read up on kicking it old-school -- from the days when a crap email would earn you a Clinton-era eBitchslap from all the beardy Pine users in your life.

43f Podcast: David Allen on interruptions

Productive Talk #06: Interruptions

43 Folders and The David Allen Company present the sixth in a series of conversations that David and Merlin recently had about Getting Things Done.


In this episode David and I talked about interruptions. How you can minimize the bad interruptions and make the best of the good ones.

(Running time: 10:17)

Grab the MP3, learn more at Odeo.com, or just listen here (after the cut).

Merlin's comments

In this episode, David makes the excellent point that if interruptions are a baked-in part of your job, they shouldn't necessarily be seen as a Bad Thing. It's just something you need to prepare for by "clearing the decks" in a way that opens you up for the opportunities and game-time input that new information can bring into your world.

Something not to miss -- David is just truly a whiz at changing gears based on his own system. If new stuff interrupts what he's currently working on, he scoops all the current work back into "pending," and basically says "Bring it on!"

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NextBus testing 16 new SF transit line predictions

sf_muni: Muni arrival times, hidden routes

Click me for a cool Google Map mashup

God, I love NextBus.

If you live in San Francisco and, like many folks, rely on SF MUNI to get from place to place, your life gets at least one order of magnitude more liveable when you can consult NextBus's GPS-based arrival predictions for the seven streetcar lines and a handful of popular electric coach (read: "bus") lines.

Of course, NextBus itself is nothing new, but, yes it still completely rules, and yes, I still meet at least one San Franciscan a week who has no idea that NextBus even exists. So, you know. You're welcome.

Anyhow, if you're new to the world of non-roulette-like MUNI transit, here's the current official coverage:

Now, what is new (to me at least) is that it looks like MUNI and NextBus are (non-publicly) testing this august service on several more bus and cable-car lines, and that you can currently get predictions on any them from the web or your phone right now. Although apparently not officially supported yet, here's the 16 new additions (hoisted from the LJ post where I learned about this):

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43F Discount: 30% off DEVONthink Pro and other DEVONtechnologies apps

From now through November 15, you can get a 30% discount on any of the DEVON apps (excluding PhotoStickies) -- that includes DEVONthink Personal, DEVONthink Pro, DEVONagent, DEVONnote as well as the Infoworker's Pro Bundle and the DEVONthink/PhotoStickies bundle.

Just use the code "en-promo-43f-200610" when you checkout to receive your discount.

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Posts, posts, posts.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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