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.

January, 2009

Michael Bierut's Notebooks

Design Observer: 26 Years, 85 Notebooks

Why a notebook link from the guy who’s supposedly over notebook pr0n? Easy. This is all about how Michael Bierut has used his 85 notebooks over the past 26 years.

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On Thumbs, Stars, and Little Men

Robert Christgau: CG 70s: The Grades

I love Christgau’s original (pre-1990) explanation of how he grades the records that he reviews.

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Video: Merlin's Talk, "Toward Patterns for Creativity"

Merlin Mann - "Toward Patterns for Creativity" - Macworld PULSE

Here's a video of my presentation, "Toward Patterns for Creativity," from earlier this month at Macworld, here in SF.

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43f Screencast: Merlin's First Desktop Tour

Merlin’s First Desktop Tour on Vimeo (Full HD Version)

After a recent “Most Daysepisode, several people asked to see what all's in my menu bar, so I made this little video using ScreenFlow. It's a “proof of concept.” A “pilot program,” if you like. Again: an experiment. (Hint: this looks way better in full HD)

Watch this space next week for more info on these apps, plus discount codes and more.

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Best Mac Ever? Duh. SE/30.

The best Mac ever | Editors’ Notes | Macworld

I knew what the near-consensus would be before the page opened. Everybody knows.

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Twyla’s Box: It’s Where Everything Goes

Self-Reliant Film » Blog Archive » Twyla Tharp: Getting Things Done (with Boxes)

This post by Paul Harrill is a great take on what I've been saucily referring to as, "Twyla's Box." (Yes, again with the Twyla Tharp book.)

I'm sharing it here, because in addition to delivering a thought-provoking slap at the self-abuse of productivity pr0n ("Certainly if you find yourself reading productivity book after productivity book you’re missing the point" [ouch]), it includes a canny synthesis of the overlap between (the best, non-fiddly parts of) GTD and those patterns that seem to help folks like Twyla Tharp to keep making for decades. Nice work, Paul. Loved this (and sorry for arriving so late to the party; I am now subscribed).

So, first a quote from Paul's post, followed by (forgive me) a long-ass re-quoting of Tharp's chapter, "Start with a Box", which I've lovingly copied straight from Paul's swell post. Paul said:

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Re-Potting with Resources: What Would You Make?

Security Building

Leo Interviews Merlin Mann of 43 Folders

The beginning of a blood-curdling recession hardly seems like the time to ruminate about fantasy resources, I'll grant you that. But, I want you to think about something. Really think about it.

If, tomorrow morning, you had 60% of the time and resources you needed to start making anything you wanted, what would it be? And, what would you do first?

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The Monthly Pimp: January '09 Edition

The Monthly Pimp Hat

Although it's been way more than a month, per our little agreement, here's some recent Merlin-related stuff that may interest you. Really good stuff this time around.

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The Problem with “Feeling Creative”

If your mall's bookstores look anything like mine (and it's probably safe to assume that they do), you'll find numerous sections devoted to helping writers, painters, musicians, and other aspiring artists to become successful in one way or another. There are books chock full of tips on finding an agent, on painting like the masters, and on composing and selling a hit song.

There are also dozens of books on "creativity" itself. Guides that are meant to help you access and unlock the artist within and to see the world in more creative ways. How to "be" creative, how to generate ideas, and how to learn to think "laterally."

Some of these books are just terrific, many are atrocious, and, at least in my anecdotal experience, only a handful challenge their readers with a fundamentally unmarketable premise:

Creative work only seems like a magic trick to people who don't understand that it's ultimately still work.

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Introducing “43 Folders Clips”

43 Folders Clips (RSS)

If you're curious about the stuff that gets my attention and inspires me (and, consequently, inspires the longer essays you see here on 43 Folders), you may enjoy my informal new sub-blog, 43 Folders Clips.

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Eric Idle, on John Cleese's Writing Process

Eric Idle, on John Cleese’s Approach to Writing

John Cleese sweated every word — to the point of exhausting collaborators like Eric Idle.

In other places, I’ve heard Cleese himself talk about his work ethic within the Pythons, mentioning how Graham Chapman might slip out early to start drinking, while Cleese would stick around and revise a sketch for another half-hour or longer. Over time, he felt the extra effort was what made the difference in the enduring appeal of his material.

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Ze Frank: Executing and Theoretical Perfection

the show with zefrank (2007-11-06 / “washington, ideas, brain crack”)

Ze Frank, on executing ideas even, or especially, when you can’t do them perfectly. (PNSFW)

[video via Waxy Links]

As some pals and I have been banging around ideas for new projects, I’ve been thinking a lot about Ze Frank, and realizing what a talented and brave fellow he is.

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Posts, posts, posts.




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. »

Scared Shitless

Merlin’s scared. You’re scared. Everybody is scared.

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