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.

Life Hacks

NYT Magazine: "Meet the Life Hackers"

Meet the Life Hackers - New York Times

_New York Times_ Select subscribers (coughFreeTrialcough) can login to preview an article by Clive Thompson that runs in the Sunday Magazine. It's called "Meet the Life Hackers" and it's a terrific overview of how people, companies, and products are responding to information overload and our (sometimes self-imposed) culture of interruption.

Danny and I pop up, as well as heroes like Mary Czerwinski and the late Bluma Zeigarnik. Clive did a hell of a job with a big and complicated topic, and I'd encourage you to check out the full article when it becomes available for free (Saturday night?). It's really good--I'd never heard, for example, about the research on interrupting telegraph operators. Awesome.

Update 2005-10-15 19:04:08

Now available online for free: Meet the Life Hackers - New York Times

Extended excerpts on Danny and the Genesis of the life-hacking movement:

read more »

"TTTk" puts MacGyver in an Altoids tin

Escape My Head: TTTk, Travel Tinker Trouble Kit

Justin has been working on a "Travel Tinker Trouble Kit" (TTTk, natch), which he conceived "to provide access to a variety of tools and supplies at a moment's notice." The initial list included:

read more »

Baltimore Sun on 'lifestyle tips' sites

Lifestyle tips, from the weird to the useful - baltimoresun.com

Breezy overview of those wacky sites with their productivity and life hacks.

Especially nice to see digital ink for cool sites like Deeper Motive, Tricks of the Trade, and Slacker Manager (as well as the usual suspects). Diversification: good.

read more »

Procrastination hack: '(10+2)*5'

Following on the idea of the procrastination dash and Jeff’s progressive dash, I’ve been experimenting with a squirelly new system to pound through my procrastinated to-do list. Brace yourself, because it is a bit more byzantine than is Merlin 2005’s newly stripped-down habit. It’s called (10+2)*5, and today it will save your ass.

read more »

GeekTool's new Tiger compatibility (and using it to build your own _Batcave_)

Mac Geekery - Geektool and Bash One-Liners

I’m an old-school fan of GeekTool, a smart little PreferencePane that lets you trick out your Mac’s Desktop background with a variety of customizable stats, photos, and status info. Most folks’ favorite use is to display the output of shell scripts and simple CLI commands (e.g. “cat ~/todo.txt” or “tail -n 10 /var/log/crashreporter.log”)

To be honest, I hadn’t used GeekTool in a while, but apparently there were some Tiger compatibility issues that were vexing fans. Now Mac Geekery’s rupa deadwyler points to a branched version (2nd item) that provides fixes for Tiger.

He also writes up a good post on a few of his favorite uses for GeekTool:

read more »

New book _Laundry_ from the author of 'Home Comforts'

Cheryl Mendelson has a new book called Laundry.

read more »

Jeff Covey: Running a _Progressive_ Dash

Reader Jeff Covey shares how he’s started beating procrastination with a dash. Jeff’s system features a very fast daily start-up and a clever way to make sure every to-do gets touched first thing every morning.

read more »

How do you get creative with your phonecam?

Your mobile phone camera can be more than a fast way to send your kitty photos to Grandma Pearl. Like a lot of people, I use mine as a ubiquitous capture device, recording ephemeral information and visual documentation wherever and whenever it’s needed.

I’m mostly curious to hear how other folks are using their phonecams (open comments below), but I’ll get the ball rolling with a few ideas, old and new:

read more »

Building a Smarter To-Do List, Part I

Since new folks visit 43F each day, I thought it might be valuable to return to one of our most popular evergreen topics to review some "best practices" for keeping a good to-do list. While a lot of this might be old hat to some of you, it's a good chance to review the habits and patterns behind one of the most powerful tools in the shed. Part 2 appears tomorrow (Update: now available). (N.B.: links to previous posts related to these topics are provided inline)

Why bother?

In my own experience wrangling life's entropic challenges, some of my best gains have come from maintaining a smart, actionable, and updated accounting of all the things I've committed myself to doing. While the quality of that list may vary from day to day, it's the best place to train my focus whenever things are starting to feel out of control. In fact, the health of my to-do list usually mirrors the health of my productivity (as well as the barometric pressure of my stress). On the good days, my to-do list has a living quality that helps guide my decisions and steers me through unexpected changes in priority or velocity. And on the crummy days, it becomes the likely suspect when I need to quickly reassess the state of the union and make changes.

While you can argue for the flavor and approach to task management that best suits your style (and your personal suck), it's hard to disparage the benefits that come from getting task commitments out of your brain and into a consistent location. One list scribbled on one busy day is not necessarily the answer (although it can be a lifesaver). Try thinking of your to-do list as an evolving plan for responsibly focusing your effort and attention in the near future.

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. »