Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.
Merlin Mann | Dec 19 2006
Merlin Mann | Sep 17 2006
I've recently revived my interest in doing mind mapping as a way to capture ideas and plan out projects.
Back in the day, I'd use Inspiration (which registration regrettably died a few years ago), and in more recent times I've played with free apps like My Mind and FreeMind, as well as tested more costly apps like NovaMind and MindManager.
If you also like to mind map, I'm curious to hear which of these you and your Mac are using, how you're using it, and what made you choose one app over another. Got a preference? Prefer regular old paper and markers? Using lots of images in your mind maps? Which pay app is most worth the dough, and why?
And for folks who are new to mind mapping, here's a few links to get you started:read more »
Merlin Mann | Aug 24 2006
Good advice on developing a tunnel for how you draft stuff that will eventually go on your blog. I think #3 ("Let it develop") -- while it could benefit from a bit more explanation -- is the really interesting part. Try not posting immediately, and return to the draft later on:
5ives: The text file behind the curtain
I do something similar with 5ives, where this kind of process is really conducive. I have a running, two-year-old collection of ideas, partial lists, orphan titles and lots of "one fun line I could build a good list around." Goofy as many of them are, some actually sat around since the site began until they evolved to the exact choices, wording, and order that I liked.
Tip: Use text folding
Since this kind of collection method can get messy (over 100 partial piles of junk in one text file), I like to use text folding inside TextMate. This makes it easy to "roll up" lists in such a way that just the title shows, then you can individually click a little "reveal" arrow to see the hoisted contents. Something like this (note the arrows in the gutter):
The beauty part is that I can still append text to the bottom (or prepend to the top) using Quicksilver since it's all just plain old text. Neato.
[ via Gina on Lifehacker ]
Merlin Mann | Aug 16 2006
LifeDev lays out some good tips for "idea dumping," based on these seven ideas.
Of course I'm a big fan of #1, but I also think there's some terrific advice in #3 (Plan for not planning on it):
Merlin Mann | Jul 13 2006
From a fun AskMe thread:
This reminds me of that stage where teenage girls randomly start to affect a terrible british accent, or when college freshmen suddenly stop wearing shoes and take up raw foods and the shakuhachi. Of course, this is not to say that I haven't had ideas of my own.
’Fess up: what was your goofiest affectation and what made you stop it?read more »
Merlin Mann | May 17 2006
I think Deane's insights on procrastination and programming might actually be even more true of writer's block and for many of the same reasons. But perhaps unlike coding, the gestation period of a writing project almost always benefits from a series of very small starts.
While there are dozens of tricks for psyching yourself out of a perceived writing slump, you eventually learn that blocks are sometimes there for a theoretically plausible reason -- because you really haven't figured out what you're trying to say yet, but suffer crippling anxiety and dread about even committing the "shitty first draft." So, as with the programming example, your brain beats itself up for being such a laggard and you may stay locked in creativity-sapping inaction. But the truth is you're probably working on it already. The only way to find out is to start someplace. Anyplace.
As Neil Fiore wisely points out in his excellent book, The Now Habit, we usually have more than enough information to just start most any job. Don't begin by fussing about perfection or the "right" place to start, just start. You can get help midwifing the process through tools like outlines, mind maps, or talking to a duck.
But, if you've truly procrastinated even getting to the point where proper gestation and idea seeding can begin, you're understandably in a bit of trouble. Because now you have to go straight to producing the artifact (the code or the article or whatever) while your brain still craves that extra bit of time to turn it all over. Like they say, a pregnancy takes nine months, regardless of how many women you've put on the job. Don't slip on a deadline that makes you try to make an infant in one night.read more »
Merlin Mann | May 3 2006
I've been enjoying a wonderful book that a reader thoughtfully sent to me a couple weeks ago. It's called Mindfulness, and it presents some fascinating evidence on the ways that we process and parse our world, as well as the peculiarly human things that can happen when we unintentionally (natch) embrace mindlessness.read more »
Merlin Mann | Apr 20 2006
I like James' ideas for catching the "brain rain" -- a way of setting aside a few minutes each day for firewalled creativity through idea generation and capture. This kind of habit could fit nicely into an end-of-day ritual, maybe before a quick review and daily cleanup.
read more »
Merlin Mann | Feb 9 2006
A few good links and snippets on Flow -- a topic that's come a couple times before here and on the group, but which seems more germane than ever given a lot of what [the royal] we have been talking about lately. More deets on buying the book at the end, although there seem to be plenty of chewy resources on the web if you just want an introduction.
Online places to pick up a copy of Csikszentmihalyi's book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience:
Merlin Mann | Dec 4 2005
_The Atlantic_'s James Fallows -- who also wrote one of my favorite pieces on The David -- has done a piece for the New York Times_ on the various "thinking tools" for the Mac. He covers all the goodies, including Devonthink, Tinderbox, Circus Ponies Notebook, AquaMinds NoteTaker, and my current steady date, OmniOutliner Pro (including a nice shoutout to Ethan's _amazing Kinkless GTD for OO).
[ Thanks, Brian Oberkirch ]
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