43 Folders

Back to Work

Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

Join us via RSS, iTunes, or at 5by5.tv.

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

An Ass Pocket of iCal

A few posts back, I professed my love for paper. That affection runs deep already, but I stumbled onto a trick this week that makes me lust after the power of a sheet of 8.5" x 11" even more.

As I'm wont to do, I returned to the Lucky Charms, marshmallowy goodness of iCal recently to organize my stuff. I know it isn't perfect, but it's my comfort zone, and after flogging myself publicly over my tendency to switch systems, I decided to stick with the ol' July 17 icon for better or for worse.

In my paper post, I mentioned that I like to jot down a few tasks at the beginning of each day, to focus my energy. It's not GTD orthodoxy, but with a job like mine, I have to make a plan of attack or else it will be lost in a pile of board books and Legos. Normally this does the trick, but on days when I have lots of reminders, or appointments with accompanying notes, it can be tedious copying this all down. So one day this week, when I was in a hurry out the door, I decided to print out an agenda from iCal.

Maybe I'm a dope for never experimenting with this, but have you seen what you can do with iCal's print dialog? Merlin has written about this before, but the ability to pick and choose which calendars to print, restricting the view to a day, a week, a month, or my favorite, a simple list, just made me reaffirm my vows with iCal. Here's what I do (in Tiger, mind you, so Leopard early-adopters may have to adjust accordingly ... I'm upgrading this weekend, promise):

  • I keep my Next Actions/To-Do's in separate calendars, and set tickler reminders as all-day events in the calendar. Each morning, I set a due date of that day for the items I'd theoretically like to tackle by EOB, and sort my calendars by due date so they float to the top of the list.
  • Next, I pop open the print dialog ("File > Print" or "Cmd-P"). I select "List" from the "View:" dropdown, then make sure all the right calendars/contexts are selected. I also check every other option except "Black and White", because I'm accustomed to the various colors I assigned to my calendars as visual reminders (if this doesn't matter to you, check that box and save yourself some ink).
  • Finally, I fold it up in quarters and put it in my back pocket. Throughout the day I can cross things off and use the white space as an inbox. Then, at the end of the day, I reconcile everything with the mothership. On days when I'm going to the gym, I even print my workout routine checklist on the backside to really feel the burn.

Maybe this isn't rocket science, and iPhone and mobile sync bandits may scoff at the manual approach. Personally, I hate printers too, but this little trick has given my sad little Canon i960 new life.

sinisterspark's picture


I used to sync iCal with Google Calendar and they worked really well together especially since they're sort of built similarly. I used iCal for the home (where I have my mac) while I use Google Calendar at the office (a Windows environment). I used iCal/Google cal primarily to separate my wedding planning from my work schedule and my study schedule. I would also keep a hidden "Done" calendar where I would move the activities and tasks that were already accomplished. I would only print my wedding calendar and keep the work and study calendars online. I loved this system so much until we lost internet at work for a week and of course I was lost and calendar-less for the whole week. After that I moved to a purely paper calendar :)




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


Subscribe with Google Reader

Subscribe on Netvibes

Add to Technorati Favorites

Subscribe on Pageflakes

Add RSS feed

The Podcast Feed


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. »