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.

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“Distraction,” Simplicity, and Running Toward Shitstorms

Dr. Einstein goes into a little more detail.

It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.

—Albert Einstein, “On the Method of Theoretical Physics” (1934)

Context: Last week, I pinched off one of my typically woolly emails in response to an acquaintance whom I admire. He’s a swell guy who makes things I love, and he'd written, in part, to express concern that my recent Swift impersonation had been directed explicitly at something he'd made. Which, of course, it hadn’t—but which, as I'll try to discuss here, strikes me as irrelevant.

To paraphrase Bogie, I played it for him, so now I suppose I might as well play it for you.

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My Faith in Nerds: Stronger Than Any Gelatinous Cube

dConstruct 2010: Merlin Mann - "Kerning, Orgasms & Those Goddamned Japanese Toothpicks" (NSFW)

ME - Kerning, Orgasms And Those Goddamned Japanese Toothpicks on Huffduffer

Download the audio | Huffduff it

Let's be honest. I don't go...mmmm...places very often.

I sit in this chair. I go to the Safeway with my daughter. Sometimes, I take the train downtown to get a haircut. I check the mail.

But, by and large, like most nerds, I'm without question, a bit of a shut-in.

Which makes it more than a little ironic that my first trip off the North American continent brought me all the way to Brighton, England's wonderful dConstruct Conference.

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Watching the Corners: On Future-Proofing Your Passion

On May 16, 2010, at 10:02 AM, "Xx" wrote:

You mentioned you gave a talk at Rutgers about future proofing your passion. Is this available as a podcast? I'd love to listen!

This poor kid emailed me to ask a really simple question. And I went and saddled him with the world's most circuitously long-winded answer. Surprise, surprise.

Hey, Xx,

Thanks for the note, man. No I'm sorry its not up as audio AFAIK.

FWIW, it's a talk I'm asked to do more often lately so I wouldn't be surprised if it turns up sooner or later.

Since you were kind enough to ask, the talk—which comes out super different each time I do it— consists of a discursive mishmash of advice I wish I'd had the ears to hear in the year or five after graduating from college: primarily, that we never end up anywhere near where we'd expected, and that most of us would have been a lot happier a lot faster if we'd realized that we were often obsessing over the wrong things—starting with how much the world should care about our major.

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Video: Merlin's Time & Attention Talk (Improvised Rutgers Edition)

Video: Merlin Mann - "Time & Attention Talk (improvised)"

Audio (mp3): "Merlin Mann - 'Rutgers Time & Attention Talk'"

This is a talk I did at Rutgers earlier this month. I kinda like it, but for a weird reason. Something something, perfect storm of technology Ragnarok, and yadda yadda, I had to start the talk 20 minutes late with no slides. Nothing.

So, I riffed.

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Catching Up: 3 Interviews from a Cooling Crucible

After almost a year of hand-wringing, fretting, and occasionally even writing the odd string of English words, I've finally started turning into the home stretch with the first draft of my Inbox Zero book.

If it hasn't been obvious, or you couldn't just guess, this book project's been a big rock for me. Given the effort it's taken (read: most every hour I'm not sleeping, working, or pushing my daughter in a swing), it's also the primary reason why updates to 43 Folders have been so scarce over the last few months. The spirit was willing, but the brain--insanely sick of thinking about these very topics--was weak.

Yes, as it turns out, writing a book does require an extraordinary expenditure of both attention and time. And, in my own case, I'll confess that this often meant working even more than four hours a week. But, who knows? Maybe that's just a consequence of my slow typing and abject lack of lifetrepreneurship.

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Yes. Another Backup Lecture.

Daring Fireball: An Ode to DiskWarrior, SuperDuper, and Dropbox

Hard drives are fragile. Read as much as you can bear to about how they work, how incredibly precisely they must operate in order to cram so many bits onto such small disks. It’s a miracle to me that they work at all. Every hard drive in the world will eventually fail. Assume that yours are all on the cusp of failure at all times. It’s good to be spooked about how long your hard drives will last.

John's article, advice, and success story about doing smart backup is exactly the reminder that a lot of people need to hear right this second. Because, it's impossible to overstate the importance of automated, redundant, and rotated backups. Trust me. You will need them all. Soon. Repeatedly. Forever. Always.

Worst of all, every stupid cliche about backup that currently makes you roll your eyes in exasperation will be visited upon you tenfold if you're not using some flavor of the anal-retentive system nerds like John and I live by.

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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. »