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.


Eno on the Microsoft Sound: 'Here's a specific problem -- solve it.'

Q and A With Brian Eno

Brian Eno, from 1996, speaking on the creation of “The Microsoft Sound” (the gentle little tune that plays when you boot your Windows PC).

I thought you’d enjoy it as an example of how a novel bit of work and some limitations can re-align your perspective and even help you get unstuck about unrelated projects.

(Thanks, Mike)

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A vacation from the endless lists

Try a nice simple to-do list that you can really manage.

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Beginner's Mind, Metropolis, and all our unnecessary parts

a million monkeys typing » The Beginner’s Mind

Metropolitan Clock

Douglas’s post reminds me of that unintentionally hilarious scene in Metropolis where the Beleaguered Iconic Worker is pushed to exhaustion in the clearly meaningless work of moving the clock hands around on the Big Futuristic Machine he’s charged to attend. (God, I wish I had a screengrab to share; it’s a stitch to watch. Found one. Thanks, Douglas.)

There have definitely been times in the past couple years when I’ve felt the same way about maintaining “my system”—driven as if by a motor from one list to another, dashing to connect all the pieces into some theoretically unified field theory of my life. It’s nutty.

The irony is that I, like many of you, tarry in this productivity sweat shop in order to achieve what David Allen has called “mind like water,” or the ability to adapt to change and disruption in a relaxed manner. So often, of course, the result is the virtual opposite. You get so stressed out about moving the meaningless clock hands on your Big Futuristic Machine that you forget what they’re supposed to be attached to.

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Unpacking the anxieties on your TODO list

Writer’s Block, Geek-Block, and Procrastination

I like this practical, tactical approach to “cringe-busting” a list of tasks that you’ve been procrastinating. Basically, you write down each thing you want to do as well as the anxiety that’s kept you from doing it.

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Solid tactics for understanding (and beating) procrastination

Excellent, Neil Fiore-esque advice on unpacking why you’re procrastinating and rewiring the crummy thinking that supports it.

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Psyching yourself out

Open Loops: Your Central Nervous System: Your Biological Key to Productivity

Interesting article on ways to jumpstart your brain into action by changing something physical.

By mimicking the sympathetic reactions to a threatening environment (sitting up straight, standing, moving quickly, deeper breathing), it appears to be possible to activate the sympathetic system, which then takes over.  We are ready to act, or in our case, be productive.  We can also change our environment to one that causes the sympathetic system to activate, one that is more spartan, threatening, or simply uncomfortable.  The result?  We take action.  We are more productive.

This doesn’t surprise me a bit, and if it’s all true, it might confirm my hunch that sitting still and staring at a screen all day is a recipe for lethargy, lame thinking, and productivity inertia.

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Personal Mantras: Got one?

Mine's “Smaller, Smaller.”

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TOPICS: Inspirado, Tips

Mnemonics, smart food, and why nuns don't get senile

Grab bag of ways to get your brain in shape.

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TOPICS: Inspirado, Tips

Roger von Oech's 'Creative Think' home page

Cool home page for Creative Think. Oblique Strategies-like tips. Reload for more.

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Zanshin: The Remaining Mind

Sort of like “Mind like water”

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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. »

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. »