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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.

Life Hacks

nextaction: GTD task-tracking app


Finally took a few minutes last night to catch up on the zeitgeist and had a look at nextaction, a very clever, javascript-based app for running your GTD system.

Like the popular GTDTiddlyWiki (earlier on 43F) it runs offline and in your own browser (Firefox, please; no likey Safari). Where it differs is in its task-centric approach which is, in some respects, a truer GTD-based approach than the TiddlyWiki implementation.

Tasks, Contexts, and Projects are entered and tracked in a handy “dashboard,” so it’s very quick and easy to see which tasks can be accomplished at a given time. One addition I love is the ability to have parent contexts. So, an entry into my “@printer” context is also automagically included in “@mac” etc. Overall, just a great feature set for such a young application.

Since the comparisons with GTDTidddlyWiki are unavoidable, it’s worth mentioning that these are two very different approaches that you’ll want to consider based upon your own needs in a tool.

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Making it harder to steal your stuff

Terrific collection of very clever tips for avoiding identity thefts and general larceny.

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TOPICS: Life Hacks, Tips

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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Robert Daeley: Do Zen Monk Robes Have Pockets?

Robert considers the vast amount of stuff most of us carry around every day—where can we lighten our loads and empty our pockets?

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TOPICS: Life Hacks, Lofi, Tips

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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The D*I*Y Planner: Hipster PDA Edition

a million monkeys typing » D*I*Y Planner Hipster PDA Edition

Geek worlds collide as Douglas Johnston releases the “Hipster PDA” edition of his popular D*I*Y Planner. As with the classic version, Douglas has adapted and refined popular “paper planner” templates—only this time they’re tailored to fit on our beloved index cards.

To commemorate this august occasion, we’ve asked Douglas himself to share his thoughts on why paper seems to be making such a comeback (if it ever “went away”), including some insights into who this format may and may not work best for.

Great work all around, Douglas!


The D*I*Y Planner: Hipster PDA Edition

by Douglas Johnston

D*I*Y Hipster PDA In this day and age, paper-based planning (PBP) is a notion roughly analogous to horse-and-buggies, pneumatic networking, sliderules, and steam-powered lawnmowers — in other words, ancient technology.

So, why are we suddenly seeing a resurgence in paper-based organizational tools like planners, index card sets (a.k.a., the Hipster PDA), file folders, pocket briefcases, and honest-to-goodness real-ink pens? Outside of a number of philosophical reasons, I believe that it's ultimately a matter of knowing that these things actually work. After all, not even the trendiest tools last for more than a season if they don't deliver (and I have a junk drawer overflowing with orphaned gadgets to prove it). There's a proven track record behind paper-based planning, and an endless array of options for those people wanting to define --and redefine-- their systems.

Despite being an IT professional, I've found that the dozens of technology-based systems I've used over the years have never really been fully effective solutions for managing my time and projects, and so bits and pieces of my life are now scattered in a hundred incompatible systems, never to be seen again. The last straw was when several of my Palm databases became badly corrupted last year, the bad data having also spread to the desktop and the backups: needless to say, much was lost. I began to wonder if the Day Runner I used a lifetime ago could be resurrected and made useful again. This plan had its problems, however: not only was the nearest Staples a four-hour jaunt away, but their shrink-wrapped forms were quite limited in variety and usage, not to mention very expensive -- a typical pack of 20 To Do sheets was about $5 USD. The D*I*Y Planner project was thus born as a way of providing a wide assortment of forms at little cost. (Although, my wife might argue that I was just being cheap.) With the realization that others might find it useful, I decided to create a system that could be tweaked to suit almost any methodology or situation, relying heavily upon user feedback for ideas and direction.

The latest member of the D*I*Y Planner family is the Hipster PDA Edition, a set of 34 organizational and planning templates designed specifically for 3x5“ index cards. I've received hundreds of requests for a kit like this, many claiming it was an important option for creating an ideal customized system. At first, the demand took me by surprise; after all, why would you want to print so tiny on cards that contain so little information and are so hard to file?

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Call for Windows hackers (_yes_, Windows)

Wintel Love Another in Danny and my ongoing series, in which we basically beg other people to do our work and finish this Godforsaken book for us.

In today’s installment, Danny pleads your help with the one thing we’re both ready to admit we know almost nothing about: cool Windows hacking. (Yes, thanks, I do see the irony of the high and mighty Mac dork asking for help from the people he supposedly scorns [or so spins the long-discredited urban myth]).

So, of course, all the usual admonitions about Windows talk are abolished for this post. It’s Thunderdome, people! The Mac-centric people humbly yield the floor.

Thus, Danny writes…

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Want to keep surfing? Pay the Webolodeon

Danny's Greasemonkey script bugs you every few minutes to see if you really still need to be surfing the web.

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Impressive paper-based project management workflow

Martin Ternouth's impressive system for managing his projects with paper.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

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An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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