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.

Getting Things Done

GTD is a personal productivity system and book by David Allen that we like a lot. Read: Getting Started with ‘Getting Things Done’.

A 'Getting Things Done' Valentine

Deez Steeles: Getting Things Done as Marriage Counciling

GTD 4U This is a wonderful post, and it illustrates something I hear from people all the time—how they feel more tuned-in to their personal life once they find a way to climb out from underneath their pile of ephemeral crap, and, frankly, how they are finally able to pull their head out of their ass long enough to pay attention to the really important people in their life.

In my case, my positive outcome is that my marriage is strong, and my wife knows and feels like she is the #1 priority in my life.  So then I can identify the next physical thing I need to do in order to accomplish those goals: it might be buying flowers, or taking an evening to cook dinner and spoil her, or booking a little weekend getaway.  Now, my wife doesn’t really like the idea of being treated like a “project,” against which tasks are assigned.  But, I would say that I’m just using GTD as a tool to make sure that I am constantly reminded to take actions to make her a priority.  That can’t be bad.

That’s pretty cool. Nice Valentine’s Day message for you GTD fans (and a savvy reminder never to let your loved one know they’re a project).

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Using Categories & Tasks in Entourage

Snapshot of a few categories in Entourage 2004 Categories are a powerful tool for organizing any of the information you store in Entourage 2004—whether it’s email, contacts, appointments, or notes—but I think they really shine as a way to provide context for your task list. I use Categories almost synonymously with the idea of "contexts" that David Allen discusses in Getting Things Done—as a way to identify the location, conditions, tools, or focus needed to work on a given item. As I said the other day, I try to use my Categories to provide ready answers to the "How," "Where," and "When" of a given task as clearly and uniquely as is reasonable. You want to be analyzing and thinking about this stuff when you’re planning it, so you won’t have to process it again when it’s time to actually do it.

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Systems, ciphers, and the dirty little secret of self-improvement

My theory is that the secret code for most self-improvement systems—from Getting Things Done through Biofeedback and the Atkins diet—is not hard to break; any idea that helps you to become more self-aware can usually help you to reach a goal or affect a favorable solution. That’s pretty much the entire bag of doughnuts right there.

Self-improvement juju works not because of magic beans or the stones in your soup pot; it works because a smart “system” can become a satisfying cipher for framing a problem and making yourself think about solutions in an ordered way. Systems help you minimize certain kinds of feedback while amplifying others.

Also, when you’ve undertaken most any kind of program, there’s usually a built-in incentive to watch for change, monitor growth, and iterate small improvements (think: morning weigh-in). While I don’t doubt that some systems empirically work better than others, I suspect that success with any of them has much to do with how we each think, behave, and respond to our environment.

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Say hi to MoleskineUS

Short version

I’m pleased to announce that MoleskineUS is our new partner for Moleskine notebooks.

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Friday night remainders, 2005-02-04

It’s been a while since we’ve had a round of remainders—good stuff I've wanted to mention that never found their way into a full post. Here's a few to chew on over the weekend.

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Map Folding: Building a Weekly Plan

I've sometimes struggled to cover the middle ground between high-level project planning (What projects do I have? and When are they due?) and ground-level daily execution (Call Jim; Draft Report; Fix CSS align in right rail nav). I've noticed that I'm often disappointed—not with what I accomplish in a given day—but with how far I've moved a project forward by the end of a working week.

At the same time, I have to confess a small frustration with the Getting Things Done notion of a "next action": if I'm really scrupulous about capturing every next thing I know I need to do, I end up with an unusably long and unstructured list (remember: my work is mostly one big "@online" context). At the same time, I try to be good about not putting too many to-dos in my hard-landscape calendar. So, while I know the raw materials for focused work are all there, I sometimes find it challenging to make meaningful clusters of activity from them without re-thinking everything five times a day (I mean, isn't that the point of planning ahead?).

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Idiot-proofing your tickler maintenance

After reading the recent caterwaul about my sloppy GTD habits, Shannon Lee emailed with a great hack for making sure your tickler file gets reviewed each day.

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Links to GTD Apps, Templates, & Scripts

I’d like to start collecting links to tools, applications, scripts, and templates that people have created for implementing Getting Things Done, and that they would like to share with folks on the web. If there’s something you’d like to see added here, leave a comment with a link and some background information (status, license, platform, etc.), and I’ll check it out. As with our OS X inventory collection, I’ll add the most useful-, novel-, and promising-looking submissions.

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A Year of Getting Things Done: Part 3, The Future of GTD?

This is the final installment of a three-part series looking back on a year of doing Getting Things Done. Part 1: The Good Stuff; Part 2: The Stuff I Wish I Were Better At.

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A Year of Getting Things Done: Part 2, The Stuff I Wish I Were Better At

This is the second of a three-part series looking back on a year of doing Getting Things Done. Part 1 from Wednesday was “The Good Stuff”; final installment appears Friday morning.

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An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

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This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »