43 Folders

Back to Work

Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

Join us via RSS, iTunes, or at 5by5.tv.

”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’.

My kGTD setup

Related to today's earlier post, a number of people have written over the past few weeks with curiosity about kGTD ("Is it worth buying OmniOutliner Pro?" "Is it worth buying a Mac?" "Will I be able to vanquish all foes?"). While I'm not prepared to do a major sales presentation, I am happy to oblige the folks who wanted to see how I've set mine up. Also gives you a little window into my current contexts (as well as my atrocious personal habits).

Screenshot here (best viewed full size): comments and questions will be entertained.

read more »

James Fallows on Mac thinking tools

Mac Programs That Come With Thinking Caps On - New York Times

_The Atlantic_'s James Fallows -- who also wrote one of my favorite pieces on The David -- has done a piece for the New York Times_ on the various "thinking tools" for the Mac. He covers all the goodies, including Devonthink, Tinderbox, Circus Ponies Notebook, AquaMinds NoteTaker, and my current steady date, OmniOutliner Pro (including a nice shoutout to Ethan's _amazing Kinkless GTD for OO).

These programs are of obvious interest to the Mac community, but the much larger community of non-Mac users also has good reason to keep an eye on them. Some are simply better than their current Word counterparts, illustrating features and approaches that PC users will want once they have seen them. The companies making two of the programs discussed here have announced forthcoming Windows versions.

Others may follow next year, when Apple Computer begins producing Macs based on Intel processing chips like those that PC's use. That change will make it easier for software vendors to create both Mac and PC versions of their programs; the introduction of the Mac mini, discussed here two months ago, makes it easier and more practical for users to switch back and forth between platforms.

[ Thanks, Brian Oberkirch ]

Ev Williams: Achieving balance with GTD

evhead: Ten Rules for Web Startups

Ev's ten rules for a startup are all strong, but #10 particularly caught my eye:

#10: Be Balanced
What is a startup without bleary-eyed, junk-food-fueled, balls-to-the-wall days and sleepless, caffeine-fueled, relationship-stressing nights? Answer?: A lot more enjoyable place to work. Yes, high levels of commitment are crucial. And yes, crunch times come and sometimes require an inordinate, painful, apologies-to-the-SO amounts of work. But it can't be all the time. Nature requires balance for health -- as do the bodies and minds who work for you and, without which, your company will be worthless. There is no better way to maintain balance and lower your stress that I've found than David Allen's GTD process. Learn it. Live it. Make it a part of your company, and you'll have a secret weapon.

Right on.

Slightly off-topic, but on my mind...as I commented earlier today, I'm finding myself increasingly uncomfortable framing techniques like GTD strictly in terms of "productivity" (although the ability to be more efficient and productive is definitely a nice perk).

GTD fights stress not by transforming you into a drone or a brainless corporate cog, but by affording a framework for recovering and maintaining smart focus. What you do with that focus is entirely your affair -- clearly people will use it for everything from building a very swell startup to managing their music career and beyond. Gratefully, nowhere does The David say you have to turn into an enormous-toothed White Guy running sales seminars at the La Quinta Inn. In any case, when we're doing GTD right, Ev is right on the money: balance is sewn into every stitch of your week.

Even two years into using GTD, I have to say I'm still pleased -- and sometimes even surprised -- at how well it still works for me. Whenever I fall off the horse, I'm usually just a mini-review away from feeling retuned to my priorities and commitments. I agree with Ev; it's powerful stuff.

I do wonder if there's a better term for GTD's goals and methods than simply "productivity" or even "time management" What do you think? Does it matter?

Tinderbox Weekend talk: Slides and links posted

Tinderbox Weekend 2005

I've posted the slides from my talk today at Tinderbox Weekend along with links to some of the posts and cool applications I mentioned.

Thanks to all the participants for great questions and conversations.

Mike Mahon: Whacking the stupid out of his system

Wow. I love this practical outline of stuff Mike Mahon does to get things done. It's primarily a list of useful life-hacky stuff that helps him keep it together, but it also repeatedly brings the funny:

read more »

KGTD keeps getting better

Kinkless (Home)
Kinkless GTD 0.69 [Salt Water] (Download)

KGTD & QuicksilverYesterday afternoon at about 15:00 Pacific standard time, I realized that I officially had way too much going on. Too many scattered low-depth projects, countless "waiting ons," and a situation where seemingly infinite scintillas of work here and there were needed to keep two dozen plates spinning. It almost makes me understand what it's like for you people with jobs. Almost.

I'd already been meaning to have another look at the Omni Outliner-based Kinkless GTD, which -- after my heartfelt infatuation a month ago -- fell off my radar screen in a frenzy of air traffic that sent me into Extreme Tool-Reduction Mode™. Yesterday I realized the time was right and that KGTD would be perfect for this particular blizzard. Well, jeez Louise: I returned to find an already amazing project had actually gotten much better. I mean, damn, man.

The marquee feature for us Quicksilver flying monkeys is the addition of an Applescript for adding to a KGTD inbox from anywhere. I swear by these sorts of scripts (and currently use about 7 of them to generate Category-based Tasks in Entourage). Note that in the image above, you're seeing where I've created a Quicksilver trigger (F8) for the script plus its action via "KGTD Inbox > Process Text..." For what it's worth, this is a bit like putting your steroids on steroids.

The QS stuff alone is worth a look, because it frees you from the agony of the modal change, but I'm also intrigued by a bunch of other little finials in the latest editions:

read more »

Recap: Turning procrastination into action

Monday's the perfect day to climb back on the horse; if you've been feeling behind and guilty about the crap you've been putting off, have a quick browse here. And when you're done, try a fast dash to get back your confidence and knock down a few "mosquito tasks."

read more »

Applescript to "sync" iCal to your Hipster PDA


Mike McCamon offers a clever way to get just his task list from iCal printed onto index cards for his Hipster PDA. Applescript to the rescue:

read more »

NPR: Clive on "Interruption Science"

Technology forces us to juggle competing demands on our attention over the course of our workdays. Alex Chadwick speaks with New York Times Magazine contributor Clive Thompson about "interruption science," the study of the effect of disruptions on job performance.

read more »



An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


Subscribe with Google Reader

Subscribe on Netvibes

Add to Technorati Favorites

Subscribe on Pageflakes

Add RSS feed

The Podcast Feed


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. »