Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.
Getting Things Done
Merlin Mann | Oct 14 2005
_New York Times_ Select subscribers (coughFreeTrialcough) can login to preview an article by Clive Thompson that runs in the Sunday Magazine. It's called "Meet the Life Hackers" and it's a terrific overview of how people, companies, and products are responding to information overload and our (sometimes self-imposed) culture of interruption.
Danny and I pop up, as well as heroes like Mary Czerwinski and the late Bluma Zeigarnik. Clive did a hell of a job with a big and complicated topic, and I'd encourage you to check out the full article when it becomes available for free (Saturday night?). It's really good--I'd never heard, for example, about the research on interrupting telegraph operators. Awesome.
Update 2005-10-15 19:04:08
Now available online for free: Meet the Life Hackers - New York Times
Extended excerpts on Danny and the Genesis of the life-hacking movement:read more »
Merlin Mann | Oct 11 2005
Following on the idea of the procrastination dash and Jeff’s progressive dash, I’ve been experimenting with a squirelly new system to pound through my procrastinated to-do list. Brace yourself, because it is a bit more byzantine than is Merlin 2005’s newly stripped-down habit. It’s called (10+2)*5, and today it will save your ass.read more »
Merlin Mann | Oct 6 2005
43F confidant Ben Hammersley does a great piece on David Allen and GTD for the Guardian UK. Terrific summary of why GTD works as well as some nice insight into David’s background (DA & I share an obscure alma mater, you know).
Ben writes:read more »
Merlin Mann | Oct 4 2005
By combining the stupendous OmniOutliner Pro with a bit of Applescript and pixie dust, KGTD provides a sensible way to manage Projects and Next Actions in one very clever little document. For those of you not already using and loving OO, this is a beautiful chance to see it in action.
The heart of the app lies in dedicated views (top-level outline rows for OO fans) for your Projects and their daughter Actions. Project view shows all related Next Actions, and Action view shows those NAs by customizable context (@home, @shopping, etc.). Additional views for periodic Reviews, Trigger Lists, Someday-Maybe, etc., make this a true GTD implementation—not just a tarted-up To-do list.read more »
Merlin Mann | Sep 28 2005
Merlin Mann | Sep 19 2005
Merlin Mann | Sep 13 2005
Merlin Mann | Sep 12 2005
Since new folks visit 43F each day, I thought it might be valuable to return to one of our most popular evergreen topics to review some "best practices" for keeping a good to-do list. While a lot of this might be old hat to some of you, it's a good chance to review the habits and patterns behind one of the most powerful tools in the shed. Part 2 appears tomorrow (Update: now available). (N.B.: links to previous posts related to these topics are provided inline)
In my own experience wrangling life's entropic challenges, some of my best gains have come from maintaining a smart, actionable, and updated accounting of all the things I've committed myself to doing. While the quality of that list may vary from day to day, it's the best place to train my focus whenever things are starting to feel out of control. In fact, the health of my to-do list usually mirrors the health of my productivity (as well as the barometric pressure of my stress). On the good days, my to-do list has a living quality that helps guide my decisions and steers me through unexpected changes in priority or velocity. And on the crummy days, it becomes the likely suspect when I need to quickly reassess the state of the union and make changes.
While you can argue for the flavor and approach to task management that best suits your style (and your personal suck), it's hard to disparage the benefits that come from getting task commitments out of your brain and into a consistent location. One list scribbled on one busy day is not necessarily the answer (although it can be a lifesaver). Try thinking of your to-do list as an evolving plan for responsibly focusing your effort and attention in the near future.read more »
Merlin Mann | Sep 6 2005
Sometimes, it's easy to feel like your work has degraded into a series of interruptions--that any block of time you've set aside to focus on a project is in constant danger of being minced to bits by phone calls, emails, and the weekend anecdotes of your co-workers. Worse still, we all suffer daily from innumerable waits, delays, and last-minute reschedulings, all of which can upend our plans and lead to a constant shifting of available time.
Rather than always seeing these changes as an intractable liability, try to look at them as opportunities to liberate unexpected pockets of time and focus. While literally non-stop interruptions are likely to make any of us nutty, a slight adjustment to your planning and outlook can lead to fast gains in productivity and a much-improved attitude about your working environment.read more »
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