Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.
Merlin Mann | Mar 13 2007
These are posts from a special 43 Folders series looking at the skills, tools, and attitude needed to empty your email inbox — and then keep it that way. You can visit each of the posts by clicking the title.
And don’t miss the “Related Articles” for our all-time popular posts on productively dealing with email.read more »
Merlin Mann | Mar 8 2007
I first heard about The War of Art from David Allen during our GTD podcast series last year. I finally picked up a copy a couple months back and read it in an evening. Like a lot of self-help books, it's longer than it needs to be (and it's not actually very long to begin with), but it does make some great points about what its author calls "resistance."
Resistance can be thought of as anything that pulls us away from doing the work we know is most important to us. It takes many forms (including procrastination, fear, distraction, and negative self-talk), but the effect is often similar: we find or permit all kinds of barriers to keep us from becoming the person we want to be, or from completing the thing we really want to make. Whether that's being a published author, a composer, a playwright, or a painter, our impulse to create constantly battles an impulse to do something else, or to do nothing -- to not upset our weirdly comfy stasis.
This book came up twice in my recent interview with Jonathan Coulton; both in part one and today's recently released part two. Jonathan strikes me as someone who has, so far, succeeded at talking down the resistance he'd faced, and now he's doing what he's great at, and, in his words, he's working hard to become the kind of "true person" that he wants to be for his daughter.read more »
Merlin Mann | Jan 16 2007
This enjoyable article on burnout includes a bit that I love (and sympathize with):
I suspect that children will eventually support some kind of thin-client email-to-affection gateway. From an evolutionary standpoint, it may be the only solution that scales.
Merlin Mann | Nov 27 2006
A few of the links that have been pretty popular on other sites, which I’d be remiss not to mention in passing here:read more »
Merlin Mann | Nov 17 2006
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:
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.read more »
Merlin Mann | Nov 13 2006
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.read more »
Merlin Mann | Nov 7 2006
What I like about his choices (including, I suppose, the 43f link *blush*) is the focus on _results_. Instead of being about simply the blah-blah-blahs of netiquette and style, these are suggestions on how best to get something accomplished -- and, yeah, sometimes that means just knowing how to keep it standard, simple, and easy to grok. Very good, tactical, battlefield stuff.
I especially dug Kaitlin Duck Sherwoods exhaustive 'Beginner's Guide to Effective Email' (ca. 1995!), which was new to me, and which I do recommend checking out. Even for the veterans out there, it might be useful to read up on kicking it old-school -- from the days when a crap email would earn you a Clinton-era eBitchslap from all the beardy Pine users in your life.
Merlin Mann | Nov 6 2006
In this episode, David makes the excellent point that if interruptions are a baked-in part of your job, they shouldn't necessarily be seen as a Bad Thing. It's just something you need to prepare for by "clearing the decks" in a way that opens you up for the opportunities and game-time input that new information can bring into your world.
Something not to miss -- David is just truly a whiz at changing gears based on his own system. If new stuff interrupts what he's currently working on, he scoops all the current work back into "pending," and basically says "Bring it on!"read more »
Merlin Mann | Oct 30 2006
Email was one of the topics that I was most interested in talking to David about, and I found his responses to my questions thought-provoking.
David makes the case that email is basically just another input -- like voice mail, for example -- that needs to be emptied and processed every day. That it's not substantially different (apart from how badly mostly people do it right now).
While I absolutely agree on processing to zero, I think opinions may differ on the significance of email's impact on the life of the average knowledge worker.read more »
Merlin Mann | Oct 18 2006
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?read more »
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