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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’.

43F Series: "Back to GTD"

Everybody falls off the Getting Things Done wagon from time to time.

Maybe you got completely caught up on your work for a while, but then got lazy and slid back into slack. Maybe you had a crapflood of new projects that made you "too busy" to do GTD properly. Heck, maybe you just decided it was a big waste of time and threw in the towel altogether. But, for whatever reasons of frustration, neglect, or (my favorite) "being too busy," it's not at all unusual to find you've slipped on your reviews, quit capturing, and basically let your little system fall into seemingly hopeless disrepair. And, I'll bet you're paying for it now, right?

You're wandering around, unsure what to do next, and you've lost confidence in your external system as a trusted outboard brain for your life. Stuff piles up. You hide the piles under newer piles. You make assurances to yourself. You start managing by crisis or by whomever in your life has the shrillest tone of voice in a given day. You've unintentionally started using the walls of your skull as a whiteboard (and you know how reliably that works).

Ultimately, you're spending all your time worrying about what else you should be doing, so instead of focusing on completing a single important task at a time, you've landed back in "plate-spinning mode," half-assing your way through a dozen poorly defined projects at one time (mmmm...multitasking). Nothing's getting done. You're procrastinating. You're eating pie and crying. You want to crawl under your desk and die. Sucks, doesn't it?

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New GTD resources page

52 Reviews » Getting Things Done, Resource Edition

52 Reviews has a handy reference page on popular GTD implementation tools. Although, personally, it looks incomplete to me without Kinkless GTD on there :) .

Many of these will be familiar to GTD fans, but there are a few I hadn't seen or that are worthy of a second look:

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456 Berea Street reviews _GTD_

Getting Things Done (Book review) | 456 Berea Street

Roger Johansson at 456 Berea Street has a short review of Getting Things Done that nicely captures the book's tactical practicality and the subsequent stress relief it can bring (which happens to be favorites of mine too):

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43F Podcast: It’s just a cup

The 43 Folders Podcast

It's Just a Cup

43folders.com - Are you enjoying your coffee or just obsessing about the cup you put it in? (3:25)

Grab the MP3, learn more at Odeo.com, or just listen from here:

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Getting more out of iCal

Okay, I admit it. I've grumbled about iCal on and off since it came out. It's one of those things in life that makes you nuts with how it almost works. The alarm choices are amazing but there's no way to have them added automatically. The shared calendars are great, but only one person can make changes. The snoozing sucks, notifications magically disappear, and some days, the "moist Jolly Rancher" design motif makes me want to barf pink. Hrmph. But (and it's a big but)...

The truth is, iCal works great with kGTD (mostly of course), and once you make your peace with the perplexing stasis of its feature set, there are some not-bad hooks and affordances hiding in its pastel, roundy corners. Here's a few I like.

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iCommit: PHP app for doing GTD

Getting Things Done [iCommit.eu]

iCommit Home View

Rainer Bernhardt has put together a nifty little PHP app for doing GTD via a web interface. It lets you wrangle projects, next actions, calendar items, ad hoc lists, and all the other tactical building blocks of GTD all via your (non-IE) browser. The interface is pretty good and typical workflow is quite easy to navigate through. It has nice touches like attachments, per-item effort estimates, printable views, plus Rainer says he may soon offer email integration which would "eliminate use of a separate e-mail app" for workflow-related planning. Wow.

Although I haven't spent a great deal of time with it, I'm very intrigued by the baked-in "weekly review" functionality, which walks you through most of what you need to look over each week from one interface. Since review gets short shrift from the many folks (like me) who use GTD primarily for task management, I think an addition like this is a terrific idea.

iCommit is, like so many of my favorite apps these days, a non-commercial, one-man operation, so there are a few rough edges, no documentation (yet! coming soon, says Rainer), and it is very much "first come, first served" in terms of seats he can handle on his personal server setup (I hope we don't cream Rainer's productivity boxen with this). But iCommit is worth a look if you've been craving a cross-platform, low-paper implementation of Getting Things Done.

Screengrabs below the cut -- I feel like Michael Arrington!

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Three cool tricks in Kinkless GTD

Herewith for your approval, a few handy tricks I've been discovering for getting the most out of the peerless Omni Outliner Pro/kGTD combo.

And don't forget -- as noted last week -- through the end of this month, when you buy any OmniOutliner product from the OmniGroup site, you can use the checkout code 43FOLDERS to get 25% off your order. Disco!

1. "Hiding" fallow projects

In last Thursday's podcast, "Fallow Projects and the Bread Crumb Trail", I mentioned how I like to move stalled or clinically-dead projects off my immediate radar screen; it makes it so much easier to focus when only actionable stuff is being tracked actively. Anyhow, lots of people asked for more details on that, so here you go.

In kGTD, you want to create a holding pen for these sick animals by generating a new top-level Project and calling it, say, "Fallow Projects #" (or whatever you prefer, but do include the "pound") then scooting all those moribund projects thereunder. Cool enough, but, here comes the nifty.

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OmniOutliner in law school, and an appreciation of OmniGroup

Using OmniOutliner Pro and Kinkless GTD in Law School

Erik Schmidt has a useful post on how he's using OmniOutliner Pro and Kinkless GTD in law school. His explanation of kGTD is succinct and nicely captures the economy of using a simple system to track projects and tasks.

But, I think his section on law school note-taking and planning is a particularly good read for anyone who could use OO for similar purposes -- he highlights how you can adapt a basic structure (in his case, reading arranged by time/syllabus order, and notes arranged by class), but then have lots of flexibility via things like drag and drop:

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Michael Linenberger: Liberate tasks from your inbox

Get Out of the In Crowd

Fast Company speaks with author Michael Linenberger about not living out of your inbox. Although, like most GTDers, I'm not a big fan of priority- and date-based task management, the advice Linenberger gives is otherwise solid gold from my standpoint. Remember, if you're using your inbox as an ersatz to-do list, you're setting yourself up for a constellation of terrible habits and nearly certain procrastination. Quoting:

When you see a requested action in an email, don't do it immediately. It might be one of the least important things for you to do that day. Instead, immediately identify what the action is and put the email in a task folder. Change the title so that it states what you need to do, and put a due date on it and a priority level. You can do that in 15 or 20 seconds. Then you move right on to the next email. Now you'll get through your to-do email remarkably fast. Drag all of your other emails into a process folder, so you now have an empty inbox, which is a really nice feeling. The next thing you do is go to your task list and ask, "What are the most important things I need to do today?" That's the stuff that would keep you from going home at the end of the day.

[ via: Lifehacker ]




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. »

Scared Shitless

Merlin’s scared. You’re scared. Everybody is scared.

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