Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.
Getting Things Done
Merlin Mann | Apr 9 2007
The Tech Guy Labs - Leo Laporte, "The Tech Guy" [2007-03-31]
On last Saturday's Tech Guy radio show, Leo Laporte and I talked about some of the basics of David Allen's Getting Things Done system. For most regular visitors to 43 Folders, this is going to be very introductory stuff, but I think it may be useful to folks who are getting started or are just curious about what "GTD" even means.
My segment appears from about 00:59:30 to about 1:08:45. Here's a link to an MP3 of the show, plus a few of the items that were mentioned in the segment:
Merlin Mann | Apr 8 2007
Merlin Mann | Mar 14 2007
I enjoyed reading this list and was especially into number five:
What would you add to the list of skills you think should be taught in school?
[ via: Anarchaia (3/14/07) ]
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 | Mar 5 2007
I enjoyed this post by Drew McCormack on how he discovered GTD and has started using it for his work as a scientist:
"Multi-dimensional ToDo list." I'm totally stealing that.
Also, I mention it here because this post provides that rarest of voyeuristic nerdthrill: getting to peek at how someone else is using Kinkless!
Any tips or stories from the science nerds out there on how GTD is and isn't working for you?
Merlin Mann | Feb 12 2007
Since the Bronze Age of personal productivity, conventional wisdom has taught us the importance of priority in deciding how to plan and use our time. And, in the abstract, anyhow, that notion of putting your time and attention into those things that are the most valuable to you seems so "obvious" as to be a tautology, where "productivity = acting on priorities." (Of course, whether people's execution of the things they claim are important always maps to their stated intentions is another matter for
But, we can probably agree that in the post-Lakein world of productivity and time management, everything from Covey's Quadrants to the Pareto Principle to the four criteria to -- what? I dunno -- firewalking, has been used to help us train our attention on the things that need us most and provide the greatest value in our world. Priority.
But, in practice, what the hell does "priority" really mean?read more »
Merlin Mann | Feb 7 2007
(Disclosure: I’m a proud member of Stikkit’s advisory board)
As promised, I wanted to start sharing some of the reasons I’ve been digging Stikkit, so I thought I’d begin at the beginning: Stikkit’s use of “magic words” to do stuff based on your typing natural (albeit geeky) language into a blank note. There's a lot more to Stikkit than magic words, but this is a great place to start. (And, yeah, future posts will be more about how to implement stuff with Stikkit, but it's worthwhile to start with the mechanics.)
[Note: this is one of those posts that you might want to print out]
Ok, first — and as usual with my infamously over-the-top demos — there’s a lot more going on here than is strictly necessary (e.g., I could have just typed “
After the cut are a couple more detailed pics, followed by an explanation of what’s happening in my example, as well as an Unofficial Stikkit Cheat Sheet.read more »
Merlin Mann | Dec 28 2006
My head swims with the number of Mac GTD apps that have sprung up over the last year or so, one of which is the Quicksilver-friendly Actiontastic. Although I haven't spent more than a few minutes playing with Actiontastic, as described by Podophile it appears to merit a look for Hipster PDA-centric iPod fans:
read more »
Merlin Mann | Dec 20 2006
While OmniFocus is under development (and yes, friends, I have seen it: it is actual software that does things), we Kinkless users will have to make do as we can for now. And while I still find my own kGTD setup oddly stable given its byzantine under-the-hood workings (think: innards of Cylon Raider meets Brazil's pneumatic tubes), there are definitely times when I crave just a bit more canonical GTD functionality.
One of the most vexing shortcomings in kGTD (God bless it) is the lack of a formal Project list -- one easy location to glance just all of the obligations and desirable outcomes that are on your horizon, without reference to the tasks that comprise them. David Allen has repeatedly said that the project list is critical (as I recall, his quote in our interviews was "...the Project list is king."), and, honestly, lacking an all-in-one Project list for your weekly review is kind of like sitting down to the SATs without your two sharpened #2 pencils.
My solution for this has two components -- one mostly behavioral and one mildly technical. Both are squirrely and lofi and your mileage may vary. As ever.read more »
Merlin Mann | Dec 11 2006
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:read more »
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