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.

Remainders: Sick box, subject lines, phone hacks, and 6 months of 43F

  • Create a “sick box” - Make up a little box filled with all the stuff you’ll want fast access to on the next morning you wake up with a cold. TheraFlu, cough drops, fresh box of Kleenex, unwatched DVD you’ve been saving, a nice trashy novel, and the phone numbers of anyone you’d need to contact at work. Believe me, you’re in no mood to collect this crap when you wake up with the flu kicking your ass.
  • UNIX in a NutshellPhonecam wishlisting - Use your mobile phone’s camera to give yourself a reminder about something you might want to buy later. Snag the UPC and pull it up later to add to your next Amazon cart.
  • Standarize your Subject lines - I think well-crafted email subject lines are largely a lost art today. Back in the day, people would use them like IMs, creating a message where the Subject line could stand as a request or answer all by itself. No more. I know I’m guilty of my share of “Subject: Hi” emails to be sure. We all are. But good subjects can save tons of time when used correctly and consistently. Whenever I manage projects, I encourage everyone to start the subject line for all project emails with the same 4-6 letter code. Spacely Sprockets’ project emails might start with “SPROCK,” for example. This makes filtering a breeze and helps you visually organize your inbox more quickly, especially when you work with a given person across several projects.
  • Acute Strategies - Everybody knows I’m a big fan of Eno’s “Oblique Strategies” cards (my favorite being “Honour thy error as a hidden intention”). I keep my deck right next to my computer and flip through them frequently. I’ve recently started a txt file of Acute Strategies. Half joke and half common sense, I sometimes find them helpful or at least good for a laugh. Samples: “Go change your shirt,” “Answer 5 emails,” “Stop interrupting people,” or “Clean the kitchen for 10 minutes”. (cf. “Hack your way out of writer’s block”)
  • Silence the nuisance - Another phone hack. If you’ve ever had your phone temporarily mistaken for a fax machine or been banged on by a rogue VoIP telemarketing farm, you may have wished you could just tear the ringer out. Until all phones catch up with the sexiness of Spam Assassin and regular expressions, we must hack, and hack we shall! (God, when is some smart company going to finally let me flash my phone a regex formula for dealing with incoming calls. Seriously, someone please do it.) Thanks to the wonders of Caller ID and unique ring assignment, I set my cell phone’s ringer-type for nuisance call numbers to None. Not perfect, but it keeps me from needing to dash across the house to be greeted by a screech, a pitch, or a hangup.
  • Check mail anyplace - Alcor threw me a nice bone about Quicksilver yesterday. If you have the Mail.app plugin installed, add “~/Library/Application Support/Quicksilver/PlugIns/QS Apple Mail Module.qsplugin/Contents/Resources/Scripts” to your catalog and restart Quicksilver (CTRL-COMMAND-Q inside Quicksilver). On relaunch, you can type “Get New Mail” and “Open New Mail” from any app without changing focus. Handy.
  • Thanks - Many thanks to everybody who’s been picking up stuff via our MoleskineUS and Amazon affiliate links. The support is very much appreciated.
  • Happy Half-Year - I’m not really one for time-based celebrations, but I’ll note that this week marks the 6-month birthday of 43 Folders. Half a million happy nerds served. Thanks to everybody for everything, with special props to my peeps and extra special kudos to my lovely, patient, and supportive ladyfriend, Madeline. She is truly the 44th folder beneath my wings. Or something like that.

Now everybody go out, and buy yourselves something real pretty. And do have a lovely weekend.

Tyler Weir's picture

Adding useful text to the...

Adding useful text to the subject line is a great time saver. At work we commonly do something like this: "Working from home today: 555-555-1234 [nt]"

Where "[nt]" stands for "no text." That way you tell the recipient they don't even have to open it.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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