43 Folders

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

My setup

I wrote this in response to this thread by Borganizer. This outlines how my portable setup works. I have it like this so that I can have as much or as little as I want to have with me, depending on the situation, like if I'm going to the cafe across the street to jot down ideas or thoroughly review my entire stack of to-dos. I carry a messenger bag with various items in it, so that I can access just one or two things or the entire thing. I've taken a sort of nested approach. Here it is from the bottom up.


  • 1 stack of @ACTIONS contextual items, divided up by context with hanging folder tabs
  • 2 stacks of non-actionables/someday-maybes


  • hPDA
  • extra 3 x 5 index cards for hPDA
  • pen
  • notepad
  • loose papers
  • business cards

Messenger Bag

  • sketchbook
  • binder
  • various pens, pencils, markers
  • spare hearing aid batteries
  • magnetic door key for my building
  • journal
  • Moleskine planner
  • business cards
  • extra 3 x 5 index cards for hPDA
  • a palm pilot i haven't used in months
  • iPod shuffle
  • iPod nano

In my planner, I keep a couple of extra 3x5's and some business cards, which have actually come in handy when I need to give someone my card or write down a phone number or web address. I put these in the semiflexible pocket in the back.

(I actually used some yesterday while driving around looking at houses. I wrote down the addresses, realtor phone numbers and/or websites, and went home and looked them up online to see how much they were, etc.)

And on occasion when I wear a jacket, I put my Moleskine planner with spare index cards and business cards in the inside pocket. This is really the reason I got the pocket size planner, so I can take it places. Or I'll put my @ACTIONS index cards in that pocket. I haven't done it yet, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to take just the index cards for the context I'm going to, such as my @ERRANDS group when I know I'll be running errands. At least I usually take the grocery list with me when I'm going there!

Anyhoo, that's my setup. Pretty simple and low-fi, but I like it. :-)


About Chrome47

Chrome47's picture


Brad Blackman is an artist and graphic designer working in the Nashville, Tennessee area. His paintings portray the geometry and architecture of everyday things that are easily overlooked, things that are ordinary yet beautiful in their austerity, form, and function, such as highway overpasses, turn-of-the-century storefronts, and enormous steel letters from a bygone era. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Hope.

In addition to painting and designing, Brad also runs the website Mysterious Flame, which discusses ways to maintain creative momentum.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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