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.

Simplicity must be possible.

Two stories that I know I should be learning from:

  • Paul Graham on overcoming distractions. By creating an Internet-Only computer.

    I now leave wifi turned off on my main computer except when I need to transfer a file or edit a web page, and I have a separate laptop on the other side of the room that I use to check mail or browse the web. (Irony of ironies, it's the computer Steve Huffman wrote Reddit on. When Steve and Alexis auctioned off their old laptops for charity, I bought them for the Y Combinator museum.)

    My rule is that I can spend as much time online as I want, as long as I do it on that computer. And this turns out to be enough.

  • NY Times on overcoming clutter. By giving everything away.
    Chasing a utopian vision of a self-sustaining life on the land as partisans of a movement some call voluntary simplicity, they are donating virtually all their possessions to charity and hitting the road at the end of May.

    “It’s amazing the amount of things a family can acquire,” said Mrs. Harris, 28, attributing their good life to “the ridiculous amount of money” her husband earned as a computer network engineer in this early Wi-Fi mecca.

    The Harrises now hope to end up as organic homesteaders in Vermont.

I can't quite see myself going as far as homesteading... but I always get that uncanny feeling when I read stories like these that it really IS that simple to make a change.

Andre Kibbe's picture

Separate computers for writing and internet

Lately when I've writing at home, I have two "axes" set up: my laptop, for when I need internet access, and my Alphasmart Neo 2 for writing.

It's been an interesting experiment. Unlike Graham, who has his internet computer in another room, my laptop is swivel-and-roll distance from my Neo. Theoretically, I still have instant access to all of the glorious distractions a connected laptop has to offer, but the mere fact that the two functions -- word processing and internet access -- are physically compartmentalized makes me hyper-aware of when I'm abandoning writing for browsing in a way that I was largely unconscious of before.

When I'm writing, I now know I'm writing, and when I'm surfing, I'm equally conscious of it. Like Graham, I have a "rule" that I can spend as much time as I want on the internet -- as long as it's on the internet computer; which isn't hard to enforce, since I can't "enable" wifi on the Neo. With no real effort, just added awareness of where I'm spending my time, I've reduced my distractions significantly.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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