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.


Introducing “43 Folders Clips”

43 Folders Clips (RSS)

If you're curious about the stuff that gets my attention and inspires me (and, consequently, inspires the longer essays you see here on 43 Folders), you may enjoy my informal new sub-blog, 43 Folders Clips.

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Talk of the Nation on Procrastination

How to Be a Productive Procrastinator : NPR (Talk of the Nation)

The Talk of the Nation that's on right now (available for streaming later) is on the topic of procrastination.

Why do today what you can do the day after tomorrow? Procrastination expert Timothy Pychyl and self-professed "structured procrastinator" John Perry discuss the latest research on this type of behavior and how to prioritize what's really important.

If you've been around here for a while, you'll remember John Perry for his excellent piece on "Structured Procrastination." Great stuff.

Links (and Distractions), 27 Nov 07

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Gruber on "Rethinking Email"

Rethinking Email

Good insight from Chairman Gruber, related to the email system he's started employing since moving to Mail.app

...I can classify all incoming personal email into three broad categories: (a) messages that are either very important or very interesting; (b) messages that are utterly non-interesting; and (c) those which fall somewhere in-between.

The vast majority of my email falls into the latter category. Under my previous “system”, I let them pile up in my inboxes, under the assumption that some day I’d get around to answering many of them. Under the new system, if I don’t respond immediately after reading them, they go right into my archive. Out of sight, out of mind.

For folks who haven't crossed the line to where this realization really clicks, I understand that this can sound harsh, even uncaring. But once you have gotten into the habit, you realize the amount of bullshit you had been shoveling to yourself -- hoping that all that stuff in your inbox, which you knew in your heart you'd never do anything about, would just...what?...grow wings and fly a response back to its sender? It's daft.

It's so tough to be honest with yourself about your real situation with email, but once you've made the admission, you're weirdly freed up to communicate more authentically, and, in my experience, with a renewed enthusiasm.

DailyLit: 5-minute literature chunks, via email or RSS

DailyLit: Read books by email and RSS.

To know me today, you'd never imagine how many hundreds of pages a week I read in college. Surprises me, anyhow. While I've devolved into an accomplished skimmer of Harper's and the The New York Times Magazine, I rarely find (or, make) the time to finish a whole book about anything that's not related to "work." That's why I'm intrigued by DailyLit, a service that leverages rather than battles the tendency to hang out online.

The idea is simple enough: select a "free" book that appeals to you, then, every day or two, via either email or RSS, the DailyLit robot sends you a section that's readable in about five minutes. If you want more at any time -- the digital equivalent of turning the page -- just click to have the next installment sent, then keep on a'reading.

The variety of available selections is handsome, including favorites like Tristram Shandy, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, The Devil's Dictionary and over 400 more. Feeling ambitious? Try War and Peace (675 5-minute parts), The Count of Monte Cristo (581 parts), or Don Quixote (448 parts). Want something a little lighter? You can't go wrong with Candide (42 parts) or A Modest Proposal (4 [still hilarious] parts).

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Neatorama on sustainable email fu

Rule the Web (and Rule Your Email Inbox!)

Alex from the always-swell Neatorama has written up the bullets on his preferred method for keeping an email inbox at zero.

4. Have a Simple Filing System
Don’t overthink this: a complex folder with subfolder system is not what you need to remain organized. Obviously, your particular needs will dictate how many folders you have … but in my experience, you rarely, if ever, need subfolders.

5. Have a Follow Up Folder There will be times that I need to research an answer to a particular email or do something before I can reply. I let these emails sit in my inbox for a maximum of 1 day (gasp!), then they get put into a Follow Up Folder if I haven’t gotten around to them - and then I add an entry in my to-do list.

Good tips, and my only (seemingly omnipresent) comment is to underscore that need to empty all your baskets regularly. Hence, one benefit of keeping your email storage and action structure light is that you won't have to dash around to multiple places to see what's on your plate.

My War on Clutter: Inspiration for Independence Day

Tomorrow is the Independence Day holiday here in the US, so a lot of folks reading this will have the day off from work. If my own clutter war is piquing your interest in improving your surroundings, tomorrow could be the occasion for you to put a few minutes toward making a dent in your own pile.

Here's some inspirational (and cautionary) links to get you started.

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Business 2.0 interview with GTD's David Allen

David Allen: The master of getting thing done - July 1, 2007

Terrific article on David Allen and his company. Although the perspective is heavy on the business and money (well: after all, it is Business 2.0), there's lots of interesting history and insight in here as well.

David Allen sits in his small office in a cottage behind his house in Ojai, Calif., talking business with a visitor. Suddenly he stops. "That reminds me," he says. He scribbles the words "bird feed" on a piece of blank notebook paper and tosses it into his inbox.

It's an ordinary moment in an ordinary day. But for Allen and his legion of followers, it holds the key to salvation. He has emptied his mind of a nagging task, placed it into a trusted system for processing, and casually returned to his conversation.

I hung with David when we were doing our podcast together (download the mp3), and I'll tell you what: that is exactly how the man works, and it's inspiring to watch.

Via: kedrhodes' bookmarks on del.icio.us

Link gratitude: Where I find my best stuff

I always try to credit the source for stuff that I link to when I've learned about it from other sites. In addition to helping my readers connect with voices they may not have heard before, I believe it's just the classy thing to do. (I'm looking at you, "A Listers" -- a lot of you have started dropping vias for everyone but your highest-profile buddies: tacky, tacky).

Anyway, I admit that I'm not 100% either, but in the interest of trying to make good, here are a few of the sites that I find myself reading and linking to a lot. Thanks to their authors and contributors for sending me (and you) to so many interesting places.

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Jason DeFillippo's 90-day program: "Just Start"

Jason P. DeFillippo : 90 Days

My pal, Jason DeFillippo, has recently begun a project to clean up his act over the next ninety days. In preparation for hitting the big three-six, he's planning to tidy up, lose some weight, and start shedding the nonsense, clutter, and distractions in his life. Go, man, go.

Personally, I've had mixed to terrible results with things where I tried to invert too many habits at one time, but Jason is nothing if not a hardass and a man of firm resolve. I'm looking forward to watching his progress over the summer and learning what I can from him.

I'll tell you one thing we agree on; it's all about getting started:

I saw this over at Boris’s blog the other day and it really triggered something in me. I tend to think a lot about project and plans. I think about them so much I get paralyzed with option paralysis and stuff doesn’t get done. In an attempt to do something right the first time through it invariable almost never gets done at all. Thinking something through is an important part of the creative process but it means dick if you don’t ever start. And if you don’t start you don’t finish.

Good on 'ya, Jason. Rock it.

Here are Jason's "90 Days" posts so far:

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An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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