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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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43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.


Jack Kornfield on mindfulness

FINDING MY RELIGION / Buddhist teacher and author Jack Kornfield on mindfulness, happiness and his own spiritual journey

SF Gate interviews Bay Area meditation teacher Jack Kornfield:

What is mindfulness and why is it important?

Mindfulness is an innate human capacity to deliberately pay full attention to where we are, to our actual experience, and to learn from it.

Much of our day we spend on automatic pilot. People know the experience of driving somewhere, pulling up to the curb and all of a sudden realizing, "Wow, I was hardly aware I was even driving. How did I get here?" When we pay attention, it is gracious, which means that there is space for our joys and sorrows, our pain and losses, all to be held in a peaceful way...

For many people, happiness is about chasing after something -- a new car, a promotion, a trip to Bermuda. But when they get it they aren't satisfied. They want more. Why do you think that happens?

I'll tell you a story. A reporter was asking the Dalai Lama on his recent visit to Washington, "You have written this book, 'The Art of Happiness,' which was on the best-seller list for two years -- could you please tell me and my readers about the happiest moment of your life?" And the Dalai Lama smiled and said, "I think now!"

Happiness isn't about getting something in the future. Happiness is the capacity to open the heart and eyes and spirit and be where we are and find happiness in the midst of it. Even in the place of difficulty, there is a kind of happiness that comes if we've been compassionate, that can help us through it. So it's different than pleasure, and it's different than chasing after something.

Kornfield co-founded Spirit Rock and is the author of many books, including A Path with Heart -- I haven't read it yet, but it's been recommended to me by several people as a sensible introduction to meditation and a spiritual path.

[ via Ms. Stiness ]

Cyber Monday safe shopping tips

"Cyber Monday" is a new one to me, but allegedly today is the biggest online shopping day of the year. Yay, capitalism.

Get out there, type up some bargains, and have fun; but be sure to shop safe. It's a crazy world, and somewhere there's a 14-year-old Russian kid who needs one more identity theft to buy that Xbox 360. Good-looking tips for playing it safe online:

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Bob Parsons' hardass time management

"Not so polite" time saving tips — that work.

Bob Parsons may not win any awards for congeniality, but I like the way he lays down the law on managing your time -- with a focus on not being a victim of your own phone. This is tough, in-your-face talk, but frankly I think it's time we get tougher with the people who demand our time.

In my own opinion, you'll never get out from under until you learn to seize back control of your phone and your email inbox; that's the the two places where the world will never stop hollering for your attention; it's up to you to say "no," and hit delete. After all, if you don't respect how you parcel out your time and attention, why should you expect anyone else to?

A few of Bob's observations:

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Ev Williams: Achieving balance with GTD

evhead: Ten Rules for Web Startups

Ev's ten rules for a startup are all strong, but #10 particularly caught my eye:

#10: Be Balanced
What is a startup without bleary-eyed, junk-food-fueled, balls-to-the-wall days and sleepless, caffeine-fueled, relationship-stressing nights? Answer?: A lot more enjoyable place to work. Yes, high levels of commitment are crucial. And yes, crunch times come and sometimes require an inordinate, painful, apologies-to-the-SO amounts of work. But it can't be all the time. Nature requires balance for health -- as do the bodies and minds who work for you and, without which, your company will be worthless. There is no better way to maintain balance and lower your stress that I've found than David Allen's GTD process. Learn it. Live it. Make it a part of your company, and you'll have a secret weapon.

Right on.

Slightly off-topic, but on my mind...as I commented earlier today, I'm finding myself increasingly uncomfortable framing techniques like GTD strictly in terms of "productivity" (although the ability to be more efficient and productive is definitely a nice perk).

GTD fights stress not by transforming you into a drone or a brainless corporate cog, but by affording a framework for recovering and maintaining smart focus. What you do with that focus is entirely your affair -- clearly people will use it for everything from building a very swell startup to managing their music career and beyond. Gratefully, nowhere does The David say you have to turn into an enormous-toothed White Guy running sales seminars at the La Quinta Inn. In any case, when we're doing GTD right, Ev is right on the money: balance is sewn into every stitch of your week.

Even two years into using GTD, I have to say I'm still pleased -- and sometimes even surprised -- at how well it still works for me. Whenever I fall off the horse, I'm usually just a mini-review away from feeling retuned to my priorities and commitments. I agree with Ev; it's powerful stuff.

I do wonder if there's a better term for GTD's goals and methods than simply "productivity" or even "time management" What do you think? Does it matter?

Paul Ford: Distraction commentary on NPR's "All Things Considered"

NPR : Distracted No More: Going Back to Basics

Paul Ford's guest post from last month evolved into an excellent commentary on tonight's All Things Considered. Go Paul.

Distracted No More: Going Back to Basics

by Paul Ford

Commentator Paul Ford has a solution for avoiding the endless distractions a computer provides.

read more »

Mike Mahon: Whacking the stupid out of his system

Wow. I love this practical outline of stuff Mike Mahon does to get things done. It's primarily a list of useful life-hacky stuff that helps him keep it together, but it also repeatedly brings the funny:

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Track keywords all over the place with MonitorThis


Your ability to ego-surf yourself (or, I suppose, just track a favorite "non-you" topic) is now a lot easier.

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Mark Morford on de-cluttering (and the SF reuse culture)

The always-enjoyable Mark Morford has a cure for the clutter in your life that doesn't involve gnashing of teeth or the intervention of a TV show. He calls it getting rid of stuff.

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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

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. »