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.

February, 2010

Today through Saturday: Merlin's Advanced OmniFocus Demo (MacWorld Booth #760)

I'll have a more proper Monthly Pimp on-deck here soon, but -- time being of the essence here -- I wanted to make sure and extend an invitation for something I'll be doing in town today.

If you're one of my nerdy band of brothers who's in San Francisco this week for [MacWorld][macworld], please do come visit me between 1:30 and 2:30 (today, Friday, and Saturday), at the giant, glistening, Oz-like [Omni Group][The Omni Group] booth ([#760][8]).

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First, care.

Asked and answered by the wonderful Frank Chimero:

Anonymous asked: 'How do you maintain focus (on work, dreams, goals, life)?'

You do one thing at a time.

You might be amazed how many times--and over how many years--a given person can ask this same simple question, hear that same simple response, and still find themselves casting about for the great and arcane "secret" to achieving real focus.

But, this is pretty much it. Mostly.

Although, I must add one important "Step Zero," borne of my own tedious experience.

Before you sweat the logistics of focus: first, care. Care intensely.

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Reservations About the Ritual Fetish

In a classic bit from an early Seinfeld[^fn3], Jerry and Elaine are at the airport, trying to pick up the rental car that Jerry had reserved. As usual, things go poorly and get awkward fast:

YouTube: Seinfeld - "Reservations"

JERRY: I don't understand...I made a reservation. Do you have my reservation?
AGENT: Yese, we do. Unfortunately, we ran out of cars.
JERRY: But, the reservation keeps the car here. That's why you have the reservation.
AGENT: I know why we have reservations.
JERRY: I don't think you do. If you did, I'd have a car. See, you know how to take the reservation—you just don't know how to hold the reservation. And, that's really the most important part of the reservation...the holding. Anybody can just TAKE them. [grabs chaotically at air]

And, how weirdly similar is that to the conflicted relationship we have with rituals? The rituals that involve our habits, tics, fetishes, True Black chairs, lucky college ashtrays, Fancy Italian Notebooks, special fountain pens, high-word-count Starbucks tables, or any of the 10,000 other things that do or don't help us in repeatedly making the things we love.

The problem seems to start when we burn more cycles on researching, choosing, and implementing a ritual than we do on leveraging it into a bona fide creative habit.

See, you know how to make the ritual, you just don't know how to repeatedly do the ritual. And, that's really the most important part of the ritual...the doing. Anybody can just MAKE them.

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Mark Pilgrim, On *Really* Writing

Mark Pilgrim on The Setup

I'm a three-time (soon to be four-time) published author. When aspiring authors learn this, they invariably ask what word processor I use. It doesn't fucking matter!


Picking the right text editor will not make you a better writer. Writing will make you a better writer. Writing, and editing, and publishing, and listening -- really listening -- to what people say about your writing.

As I said in that interview with Seth Godin, most people are taken way aback when they unknowingly receive the advice they really need — rather than the advice that's just fun to listen to. Well, guess what, Fiddly McMaybewriter? Mark's your new coach, so get ready to run some bleachers.

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TOPICS: Writing

Admin: Pardon My Dust (On Many Levels)

Forgive the site some hiccups over the next few days. After what feels like decades of neglect (read: ugh, book), I'm happy to say I'll be returning to occasional 43f posting this week.

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`Nerdgasm.txt` - Notational Velocity Now Syncs with Simplenote

Happiest thing I saw on my phone this week

Notational Velocity - Version 2.0β2 Release Notes

Two of the best things on my Mac now sync programmatically and without the need for either spit or baling wire— that means syncing with "the cloud," syncing with my iPhone (App Store link), and, by extension, syncing with every computer I own via the game-changing Dropbox. Yes. Big.

If you live in text files and crave seamless, no-brainer syncing (that doesn't require growing a neckbeard), that little icon represents a milestone in the evolution of simple, low-friction workflows.

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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. »