Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.
Merlin Mann | Jan 15 2005
50 Strategies for Making Yourself Work is a terrifically useful and very entertaining list of hacks, tricks, ciphers, and fake rules for helping yourself write. Or more specifically, it helps you get unstuck, unblocked, and out of that hated procrastinating mire. It’s actually a much better version of my “Hack Your Way out of Writer’s Block” that I somehow missed in putting my ideas together.
I have to say, I’m really pleased to have discovered this article today, because it comports with some stuff I’ve been thinking about a lot lately and with the approach that sums up my feeling about “43 Folders-esque” ideas: in order to find what works for you, it helps to understand why the old stuff doesn’t.
By now, everybody knows that I swiped the basic idea for 43 Folders from my pal, hero, and personal muse, Danny O’Brien. His work on the original Life Hacks presentation was centered around research into why some people, especially those overachieving alpha geeks, seem to get so much more accomplished over the same 24 hours we mortals start with each day. Some of them, like Rael, just seem preternaturally organized and focused. Others, like Cory, are blessed with an ungodly gift for effective multi-tasking.
But many of the other productive nerds, as you soon realize, have just gotten really good at identifying their weaknesses and developing the compensatory psychic muscle needed to shore up their vulnerabilities. Forgetful? Write stuff down. Easily distracted? Set timers. Saddled with pointless interruptions? Leave the office. Find the bad code in your system and eliminate the bugs. Find the fastest, easiest, most elegant solution that could possibly work. Can it really be that simple?read more »
Merlin Mann | Jan 14 2005
ELF adds the San Francisco Public Library to its system.read more »
Merlin Mann | Jan 8 2005
Fans of the Hipster PDA have been cropping up around the Interweb, so I thought I’d share my favorite hack for organizing your cards on the go. Like the Hipster PDA itself, it’s a lo-fi no-brainer, but I’ve found it a useful and durable way to keep things straight.
If you’ve gotten in the habit of carrying a stack of cards around, you may notice it can be confusing to quickly see which cards are “fresh” and which ones are “used.” This can lead to hilarity like handing one potential client a card with a note about another on the unexamined back of the card. Mostly, though, it’s just annoying to have to juggle a bunch of loose cards plus your space pen while rushing to jot something down.read more »
Merlin Mann | Jan 6 2005
How about an RSS feed of my public library account? Books out, books overdue, and books on request.read more »
Merlin Mann | Jan 4 2005
I've sometimes struggled to cover the middle ground between high-level project planning (What projects do I have? and When are they due?) and ground-level daily execution (Call Jim; Draft Report; Fix CSS align in right rail nav). I've noticed that I'm often disappointed—not with what I accomplish in a given day—but with how far I've moved a project forward by the end of a working week.
At the same time, I have to confess a small frustration with the Getting Things Done notion of a "next action": if I'm really scrupulous about capturing every next thing I know I need to do, I end up with an unusably long and unstructured list (remember: my work is mostly one big "@online" context). At the same time, I try to be good about not putting too many to-dos in my hard-landscape calendar. So, while I know the raw materials for focused work are all there, I sometimes find it challenging to make meaningful clusters of activity from them without re-thinking everything five times a day (I mean, isn't that the point of planning ahead?).read more »
Merlin Mann | Jan 3 2005
Merlin Mann | Nov 24 2004
So, you’re going to a ticketed event, like a concert or a ball game. It’s out of town. You’re carpooling with four other people. How do you ensure that everyone in the car has their ticket with them?
The car doesn't move until each person takes out their ticket and holds it to their forehead.
Been doing it for 20 years, and you’d be amazed how often it saves the day.
Merlin Mann | Nov 18 2004
A few novel uses and tips for using everybody's favorite Italian notebook.read more »
Merlin Mann | Nov 18 2004
I recently had occasion to do some…errr…research on writer’s block. Yeah, research. That’s what I was doing. Like a scientist.
I found lots of great ideas to get unstuck and wrote the best ones on index cards to create an Oblique Strategies-like deck. Swipe, share, and add you own in comments.read more »
Merlin Mann | Nov 5 2004
[n.b.: this post has been updated to reflect the release of version B32r2. --2004-11-06 15:35 PST]
Since there's new folks moving to Quicksilver all the time, I thought I'd post some more starter tips if you're following along here. If you have questions about stuff not working as described, doublecheck your setup and the tips below.read more »
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