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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.


Download Squad: Windows GTD apps

Getting Things Done Software Systems (Part 1 of 2) - Download Squad

Download Squad has posted the first in a two-part series reviewing systems for supporting Getting Things Done. It includes an overview of the GTD basics, plus apps for Windows and PDAs. The next edition will cover "online software."

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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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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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43F Podcast: Fallow Projects & The Bread Crumb Trail

The 43 Folders Podcast

Fallow Projects & The Bread Crumb Trail

Little tricks for juggling your projects, plus a few words from our readers. (5:32)

More at Odeo.com, or just listen from here:

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25% off OmniOutliner for 43F readers

The Omni Group - Applications - OmniOutliner - Professional

It's nice to know my crush on OmniGroup is reciprocated -- and extended to the lovely Mac users who read 43 Folders.

From now through June 30th, when you buy OmniOutliner from the OmniGroup site, use the checkout code "43FOLDERS" to receive a 25% discount on all versions of OmniOutliner. This includes OmniOutliner standard, OmniOutliner Pro, upgrades, and family packs -- anything in the OO product line). If you've been holding off trying the 1-2 punch of OmniOutliner and the free Kinkless GTD, now's your chance to jump in for a few less bones.

Thanks to Ken, Linda, and everyone at OmniGroup for sharing the love.

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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GTD Prayer

gilest.org: The GTD Prayer

Giles Turnbull has added a long-overdue liturgical element to the world of Getting Things Done.

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Kinkless GTD .83: Enhances Quicksilver and iCal integration, much more

Kinkless GTD 0.83 [Relative Motion] | Kinkless

The wait is over, kids. Ethan Schoonover has just released his .83 version of Kinkless GTD, and, brother, does it ever bring it. (For an intro to what kGTD is, start here, then go here and of course, here.)

So, first great thing: the syncing problems people (including me) were having -- getting changes in Action views and iCal to get reflected correctly back in Projects view -- has been fixed most elegantly. So it's just a lot more usable and dependable right out of the box. But that ain't all E's been cooking up. Among the trove of new and updated features (cribbed from Ethan):

  • Everything syncs: all changes to all columns are now synchronized across all views of a task (Projects/Actions/iCal)
  • Deletions now handled with the good old delete key on your keyboard
  • Singleton tasks section, now a full citizen
  • Better QS action… and fancy “task shorthand” to make it easy to send a task to a specific context/project
  • Task aging

Visit the kGTD .83 release page for full details

Ethan, as ever, has done a terrific screencast explaining how the app works -- DO NOT MISS the video if you aren't "getting" kGTD, because it's super useful in showing exactly how it works -- plus I'm sure there will be lots of lively discussion over on the kGTD forum, so for today I'll just focus on my favorite improved feature: what Ethan calls "fancy “task shorthand.'"

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Dr. Contextlove or: "How I learned to stop worrying and love iCal"

A favorite topic of GTD'ers is the contexts that we each choose to identify the times, tools, or locations by which a given task can or must be undertaken. This is a highly personalized decision, and I've learned a lot from seeing how other people are doing it.

Since I see it's been a while since I've talked about how I'm using contexts, here's an update that reflects how I'm now using Kinkless GTD and iCal to keep things wrangled.

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Ganging your mosquito tasks

Not all tasks are created equal. Our to-dos all differ in priority, complexity, time requirement, and context, so it’s probably daft to always capture and expose them in an identical way. I have a little trick for dealing with this that’s been working really well for me.

Back in the day, my to-do list was an egalitarian nightmare of inefficiency — verb-centric “next actions” through they all were, I commonly faced a task list that looked something like this:

  • call Alice about Foo project
  • fix line 125 of bar.php
  • fix line 349 of bat.php
  • take out kitchen recycling
  • buy milk
  • buy index cards
  • sweep the decks

Now, the problem here might be self-evident to you smarter people, but I was missing an important concept: there is such a thing as too granular a task to track as its own event. In this instance, I was cruftifying my landscape with items that were way too detailed or tiny and, consequently, I’d turned my task list into an undoable roller coaster of un-focus. Just as “projects” are composed of “tasks,” I like to think that “tasks” themselves can often be collected into silos of small “mosquito tasks.” And my solution, as ever: text files and alarms.

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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

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