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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.


Glenn Wolsey: 6 email tips

Glenn Wolsey—6 Ways To Organize - Your Mail Application

Glenn Wolsey has a great little post on how he's set up and is using Mail.app. He's got some very smart stuff here, including an intriguing approach to minimalist mailbox management:

Create 3 folders and name them Follow-Up, Interesting & To Do. Then, as you check your emails file them straight into the applicable folder.

Later, when you have time you can go straight to these folders folder and work through them. It will be much quicker to see what needs attending to and you are more likely to might be motivated to spare a few minutes clearing your to-do folder.

The "Interesting" folder is a new one to me, and, although I personally favor a more verb-y approach to my email buckets, that would be a cool way to bubble up stuff you don't want to miss after a big round of processing.

As we covered in Inbox Zero, it's all about liberating the actions out of your mail. Like any of this stuff, if the system makes sense to you and gives you transparent affordances for instantly knowing "where it goes" and "what you need to do about it," then you're on to something.

Nice work, Glenn!

Michael Angeles: Hipster PDA gear

The evolving configuration of my LowFi PDA | urlgreyhot

Michael’s Hipster PDA

Michael Angeles on his super-slim lofi setup and a very cool-sounding pen:

I now carry around the Fischer Space Pen I got for Christmas a few years ago, a Nick(it) wallet I got for free in the goody bag from MAD Museum's Mad About Dance event, and a small stack of index cards.

Problem is that I often take the pen out and throw it in a bag or something so I find myself on a subway train with an idea, but nothing to write with. Tina pointed to the Inka Pen, which looks perfect.

If I attach it to my keys, I'll never be without it. Sweetness.

Ooooo...Daddy like. Anybody else tried this Inka Pen? Looks like a very clever design. (See also: Gizmodo: The Inka Pen Lets You Write Underwater)

Generate your official seal

The Offical Seal Generator is a tremendously enjoyable, old-school-interweb way to fritter away your day. Believe me, I know.

[via The Presurfer]

TOPICS: Heh, Links, Off Topic

Percolating your blog drafts

Let Your Blog Posts Marinate (4 Steps to Forming Great Ideas) at LifeDev

Good advice on developing a tunnel for how you draft stuff that will eventually go on your blog. I think #3 ("Let it develop") -- while it could benefit from a bit more explanation -- is the really interesting part. Try not posting immediately, and return to the draft later on:

It’s hard to say how long this step lasts. Sometimes it’s all over in 15-20 minutes. Sometimes it takes weeks. The important thing is not to rush the process.

5ives: The text file behind the curtain

I do something similar with 5ives, where this kind of process is really conducive. I have a running, two-year-old collection of ideas, partial lists, orphan titles and lots of "one fun line I could build a good list around." Goofy as many of them are, some actually sat around since the site began until they evolved to the exact choices, wording, and order that I liked.

Tip: Use text folding

Since this kind of collection method can get messy (over 100 partial piles of junk in one text file), I like to use text folding inside TextMate. This makes it easy to "roll up" lists in such a way that just the title shows, then you can individually click a little "reveal" arrow to see the hoisted contents. Something like this (note the arrows in the gutter):

The beauty part is that I can still append text to the bottom (or prepend to the top) using Quicksilver since it's all just plain old text. Neato.

[ via Gina on Lifehacker ]

Life Clever: Secrets of the Tidy Desk

10 tips for keeping your desk clean and tidy

I linked to this very swell Life Clever article via del.icio.us the other day, but there's so much savory goodness in here, I feel like revisiting it.

Like a lot of good stuff, this article is about more than it first seems, since a tidy desk can be a MacGuffin; this is ultimately about a tidy approach, or, if you prefer, a tidy mind.

It means that you can create a physical workspace that supports your style of thinking and your approach to action, rather than having it be a purely aesthetic artifact of, say, your OCD or your secret fetish to work in an operating theater. Most importantly, you know where stuff goes because you know where your brain will want to look for it at the right time later on, right? And, as you eventually learn, if you can't immediately grok whether a given piece of paper is trash, actionable, or just for reference, you will be, as Walter Sobchak says, "entering a world of pain."

Like Martin Ternouth's excellent paper-based system, Chanpory's tips encourage you to build fences between projects and tall walls between statuses. For example, think about how a frequent usage of an "Incubate Box" might change the chaotic state of your thinking (as expressed in the mystery-meat piles on your desk):

read more »

Papal advice on overwork

Holidaying Pope criticises overwork - The Herald

Words of wisdom from the vacationing Pope:

During his traditional weekly appearance to bless the faithful, Benedict XVI quoted from writings of St Bernard in the 12th century meant for popes of his time on the subject of overwork.

The saint advised pontiffs to "watch out for the dangers of an excessive activity, whatever... the job that you hold, because many jobs often lead to the 'hardening of the heart', as well as 'suffering of the spirit, loss of intelligence'," Benedict said, quoting St Bernard.

2 fun sites for home and productivity pr0n

Two sites of potential interest to fellow lovers of home and productivity pr0n (both via Mrs. Mann and her humiliatingly addictive Domino Magazine).

The Museum of Useful Things is a Cambridge MA-based store and site with sexy, IKEA-esque tools for an organized and interesting home life. I mean who couldn't use a diner-style napkin dispenser, new wave potato masher, or kitchen timer on a lanyard? Prices generally look pretty reasonable, too, making this a good place to hunt for gifts for a housewarming or for students heading off to college.

If MUT is similar to IKEA, then russell+hazel is a little more Design Within Reach-y (in terms of dollars). But they carry a ton of nifty, good-looking products for a design lover's home and office. I like the looks of the Three Subject Notebook, the Notebook Jacket, and this foxy Leather Stash Sack. Plus they let you shop by color, which you gotta love.

Got a favorite source of home and office pr0n you've been ogling lately?

GMail + GTD = GTDGmail

GTDGmail - The Firefox Extension that Combines Gmail with Getting Things Done - home

GTDGmail looks like a promising entry into the increasingly crowded gene pool of web-based productivity software.

The Firefox extension runs on top of your Gmail account, giving you an email-centric approach to implementing Getting Things Done that includes contexts, statuses, a very nifty search feature, and more. This could be just the thing for people who have to live in email, but who don't want to live in an unprocessed inbox.

From the GTDGmail site:

Gmail has long been identified (see Bryan Murdaugh's Whitepaper) as a very good tool for GTD. It has a simple interface, plentiful storage, effective label system a basic approach to storage (just Inbox and Archive). The 'Conversation' concept is perfect for efficiently linking tasks and other data - again promoting simplicity and personal effectiveness.

Finally, email needs GTD as much as any other part of your life, so it makes sense to embed GTD into an email client.

GTDGmail requires Firefox -- as in vanilla Firefox; it didn't work on my (preferred) Mozilla browser, Flock, but I'm open to accounts of pilot error if I'm missing anything.

Edit (2006-08-21 07:32:57): Well, that was mean and Michael Arrington of me, wasn’t it? :) I was incorrect in thinking GTDGmailhad gone functionally public (although the project seems pretty well known already). Keep an eye out for the full release (and do forgive me for the unintentional tease).

Edit (2006-08-21 18:01:06): Yay! Looks like it's available now: GTDGmail :: Mozilla Add-ons :: Add Features to Mozilla Software. Thanks, Aaron.

Interviewing with "The Sawatsky Method"

I enjoyed this recent ATC story about the interview skills guru, John Sawatsky. "The Sawatsky Method" contrasts sharply with the confrontational attack dog methods most of us associate with people like Mike Wallace:

Sawatsky's rules are simple, but he says they get broken all the time: Don't ask yes-or-no questions, keep questions short and avoid charged words, which can distract people. In his seminar, Sawatsky points to Mike Wallace of CBS' 60 Minutes and CNN's Larry King as examples to avoid. In Sawatsky's illustrative clips, King favors leading questions that generate curt answers, while Wallace's rapid patter fails to get a subject to speak candidly.

More on Sawatsky here and here, including this gem:

The best questions, argues Sawatsky, are like clean windows. "A clean window gives a perfect view. When we ask a question, we want to get a window into the source. When you put values in your questions, it's like putting dirt on the window. It obscures the view of the lake beyond. People shouldn't notice the question in an interview, just like they shouldn't notice the window. They should be looking at the lake."

Even for non-journalists, if you need to conduct the occasional interview, Sawatsky's got some golden tips.

7 Principles of "Idea Dumping"

7 Idea Dumping Tips (How To Manage Diarrhea of the Brain) at LifeDev

LifeDev lays out some good tips for "idea dumping," based on these seven ideas.

  1. ALWAYS carry paper
  2. Be descriptive when writing it down
  3. Plan for not planning on it
  4. Good environments matter
  5. Think big picture down
  6. Organize your thoughts
  7. Know when to stop

Of course I'm a big fan of #1, but I also think there's some terrific advice in #3 (Plan for not planning on it):

One problem with the way we typically brainstorm is this: it’s unnatural. We bang our heads against the wall while chanting “think, think”. If you’re like me, your brain doesn’t like to be told what to do. The second I sit down and “make” myself be creative, my brain goes on lockdown. Nothing in, nothing out. There’s no such thing as forced creativity.

I’ve found that the best way to allow your mind to form ideas is when I’m doing something else. You have to be ready at anytime to jot something down. I know this point is a lot like #1, but I can’t stress it enough.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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