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Best Practices

Provide context for better ubiquitous capture

Although the first priority in ubiquitous capture is getting it down, the red-headed stepchild trailing in at number two is providing context. And I don't mean the GTD kind of contexts, but the kind of context that minimally explains what this information means, where and when you collected it, why it matters, or anything else that will help you find a meaningful place for it in your life later on.

Example? Sure. Here's one from my real and recent world. Index card with one word on it:


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Vox Pop: Your best "best practice" for email?

Short Subject: Now You're Talking (1927)

prosaic [on email]

Chris Streeter picks up on a thread that I've been thinking about a lot lately (and he's kind to mention the relationship to Inbox Zero).

He reminds us that the etiquette for using a telephone was once well-established enough to earn a place in the encyclopedia:

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Ideamatt on GTD with support staff

Matt's Idea Blog: Best practices for GTD and administrative assistants

Matt Cornell has posted some useful notes on emerging best practices for doing GTD with an administrative assistant. There's some practical and thoughtful stuff here, and I recommend having a look.

While I have a gut feeling most 43f readers probably don't have/are not a dedicated admin, I know that most of you do work on teams and do have support staff (or are support staff). And one of the constant themes I hear from people is the need for more advice on how to implement GTD practices outside one's own half-acre (here's my interview with David Allen about just that issue). Articles like Matt's can be useful in considering how information might flow with less friction in your workplace. Great way to get the conversation going, for sure.

I think the theme I like best here may have virtually nothing to do with GTD, strictly speaking, but has everything to do with informal standards, team culture, and divisions of labor. As David said numerous times in our recent interviews, you want to get to the point where you don't need to interrupt one another to trust that any new input makes a responsible entry into a team member's world. But that requires certain shared expectations and, in many cases, a physical external system that everyone understands and utilizes.

To this end, I like Matt's notes on collection:

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Productive Talk Compilation: 8-episode podcast with GTD's David Allen

Download MP3 of "Productive Talk Compilation"

As promised, here's the single-file compilation of the Productive Talk podcast interviews I did with David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done. The final version's eight episodes clock in at a considerable one hour and twenty-six minutes, so this should give you plenty to listen to while you're in line at the DMV.

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David Allen on GTD's future (and why it just works, as is)

Productive Talk #08: GTD 2.0?

43 Folders and The David Allen Company present the eighth in a series of conversations that David and Merlin recently had about Getting Things Done.


In this episode, Merlin asks David one of the most popular questions about GTD; if he could write the book all over again today, what would he do differently? David addresses how people’s understanding of GTD evolves on repeated exposures, as well hinting at future plans for making GTD easier for people to start and maintain. He makes some great points on learning to pay attention to your "higher altitudes," and wraps up by underscoring the importance of not having to rethink every task throughout the day. (13:11)

Grab the MP3, learn more at Odeo.com, or just listen here (after the cut).

Merlin's comments

If you bend David Allen's ear for more than 30 seconds about GTD, you'll hear some variation of a phrase that I heard a lot over the couple days we hung out in Ojai: "It's all in the book!"

Say what you will about The David, but he is not a man who suffers from The George Lucas Complex. Much to the consternation of his publishers, his fans, and -- one suspects -- even some of his colleagues, David feels like he has already written the complete and definitive work on the Getting Things Done system. And he very clearly has no desire to futz with that basic system without a good reason; it's sound and complete, as is, and there you go. Next subject.

And, I have to say, in a lot of ways, I've come to really admire this.

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Vox Pop: Sell me on manual email filing

tow.com » MsgFiler

Lots of the kids are excited about the arrival of MsgFiler, which is a neat litte app for helping you file away your messages in Mail.app:

MsgFiler is a plug-in for Apple Mail which quickly files emails into existing mailbox folders. MsgFiler’s fast searching means you just have to type a few characters to find the right mailbox. Move selected messages with a click or open a mailbox without having to navigate the mailbox folder pane. MsgFiler is optimized for keyboard-only usage, perfect for Apple Mail power users.


But I'll just play devil's advocate on this one: if you find yourself inordinately excited about the arrival of this (admittedly clever) application, there's an excellent chance that your email archiving system is unnecessarily complex and, in fact, is in need of a major streamlining. Discuss.

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David Allen on best practices for implementing GTD

Productive Talk #07: Implementing GTD

43 Folders and The David Allen Company present the seventh in a series of conversations that David and Merlin recently had about Getting Things Done.


In this episode, David and Merlin look at best practices for implementing Getting Things Done. David shares some great advice on firewalling review time and warns us how to avoid the perils of "cruise control." (9:37)

More at: http://www.davidco.com/ and http://www.43folders.com/

Grab the MP3, learn more at Odeo.com, or just listen here (after the cut).

Merlin's comments

My favorite bit in this one (jump to 1:38) is where we learn that some of David's best stuff seems to have had a genesis in an unlikely place -- from his tenure as the manager of a gas station, back in the day.

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Vox Populi: How are you using Mail Tags?

I open the floor to all of you on a question of particular personal interest to me: How are you using Mail Tags?

While my uses of it to date have been helpful, I keep getting the feeling I'm not getting all that I can out of it -- especially since the ability to associate Projects, Priorities, etc. to a message could make for some really enticing Smart Folders.

I wonder if my question is ultimately more taxonomic in nature -- ultimately more about Spotlight in general or Tags in very very general: When tagging items on your Mac, what kind '-onomy' are using? How strictly do you enforce your vocabulary? What are the best practices for someone who's new to this?

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An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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