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.

Intermission, or "I, for one, welcome our new productivity overlords"

91sbelvedere1Anil's post was swell, and I think I agree with almost all of it (esp. the meeting-up part), but it did freak me out just a little. So, I think it's time to do our exercise that helps keep the line between reality and fantasy a little less blurry; I'm glad everybody's digging the site and checking out the GTD book, but I feel like I should clear a few things up before this gets too weird.

First off, to paraphrase Clarke’s Third Law, “Any sufficiently advanced system that makes you re-examine your basic assumptions is indistinguishable from a cult.” GTD makes people enthusiastic because it satisfies their lizard brain and gives them an outlet for turning anxiety into action. There are no robes, no secret handshakes, and the most important article in the liturgy is arguably a modestly priced Label Maker. People just get into it because it freaking works, and because it returns a modicum of control in a world where handles on life can be slippery to grasp. That’s really it, I swear.

As far as the whole “Martha Stewart” thing, if there is to be one, it certainly will not be me. I do this crap because I need it; not because organization comes to me naturally. The idea of having a digital chicken coop whose eggs I constantly thrust in your face is the furthest thing from my mind. I just want to share some of the atomic ideas that have helped me so you can decide if they’ll work for you too. Simple stuff.

I hate to get all Life of Brian here, but it’s important not to fetishize any of the minutiae we’re talking about (and others talk about elsewhere). See, these are really all just a big pile of Lego bricks that you can use to build whatever you want or need. Nobody’s saying it has to be my system or David Allen’s system or any system at all. At least I’m not. If you decide to make a list of five things you want to do before you die, boom, the site has succeeded. You’re thinking about your life and deciding what actions might make you happier. There’s no silver bullet that says “Your Life” on it, and it’s ludicrous to keep thinking one will arrive one morning. Believe me, I’ve stood by the mailbox and waited.

So, if there’s one message I’d hope to get across, it’s simply to try and become more self-aware about what works and does not work for your life, your brain, and--sure, why not?--your computer, too. There are elements of GTD that work great for me; there are some that I ignore completely. The point is to get them out there, talk about them, and let us all share the stuff that makes us feel better, get stuff done, and help iterate our lives in small but satisfying ways.

That’s all. We can go back to the nerdery now. Thanks for listening.

Erika's picture

Sure, you say that now....

Sure, you say that now. But three months from now, when you're wearing an apron hand-woven from recycled index cards and screaming up a froth as you pin your hapless assistant against the garage door with the front bumper of your car, THEN where will we be?!

(Kidding, kidding. And still waiting for my number to come up for the library's sole copy of GTD...)




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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