43 Folders

Back to Work

Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

Join us via RSS, iTunes, or at 5by5.tv.

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


Tricks for remembering names

Following up on the earlier post about becoming a better listener, I get the feeling I'm not the only one with problems remembering peoples' names. So how about a few quick tips via Google for remembering names:

read more »

Tips on becoming a better listener

When we meet, you and I, you will see for yourself one of my most humiliating traits. No it's not my acromegaly, my plaid pants, nor my atrocious hairpiece.

No, friend, you will be deeply annoyed to hear me ask you to repeat your name at least twice, and possibly five times, during our inaugural conversation. And, in subsequent meetings, even though your face will be forever etched upon my brain (a skill at which I absolutely excel), I will probably call you "Champ," "Chief," or possibly "Tex." Because, yes, I will have completely forgotten your name. And it's not just a bad memory that's to blame here (although, of course, my memory sucks, too) -- I'm convinced it's because I am a terrible listener, and because I suffer intermittent encoding errors at the time data is written to disk, so to speak.

In working to improve this socially-crippling liability, in general -- to hear what people are really saying rather than just using the down time to formulate a pseudo-clever response -- I've begun skimming the web for advice. I have these sites and tips to share with you so far, so listen up!

read more »

New GTD resources page

52 Reviews » Getting Things Done, Resource Edition

52 Reviews has a handy reference page on popular GTD implementation tools. Although, personally, it looks incomplete to me without Kinkless GTD on there :) .

Many of these will be familiar to GTD fans, but there are a few I hadn't seen or that are worthy of a second look:

read more »

456 Berea Street reviews _GTD_

Getting Things Done (Book review) | 456 Berea Street

Roger Johansson at 456 Berea Street has a short review of Getting Things Done that nicely captures the book's tactical practicality and the subsequent stress relief it can bring (which happens to be favorites of mine too):

read more »

Gina: Action-based email setup

Empty your inbox with the Trusted Trio

Gina's written up a post on her modified version of the email setup I laid out in my MacWorld Inbox Makeover article. She's stripping down to three email folders (besides the inbox), and seems to be having good results with the action-oriented results:

read more »

Intl. Business: How not to be the "ugly American"

Getting Through Customs - Articles

My friend's dad is a hard-nosed American sales guy. He spent thirty years developing and, in my opinion, mastering the disparate skills of schmoozing, selling, negotiating, and closing. (Man, this guy could close.) But when he started moving into big-time international sales, he realized there was this whole world (literally) of customs, skills, and rhythms he'd have to master -- lest he unintentionally offend a client and blow the deal.

When I first heard about some of these differences ("In Japan, brace yourself for several days of intense all-day recreation before business is ever discussed"), I picked up a copy of Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands, which has tons of fascinating advice on how to adapt your behavior when conducting business outside the US.

I wonder how many of these have changed since I read the book in the mid-90s -- the world has shrunk a lot since then. Still, I have to say that as a poorly-traveled American, I do find this stuff fascinating And, now I've discovered the book's authors have this ginormous repository of web-based information.

Here's some favorite random factoids, mores, and customs from outside the U.S.:

read more »

Insomnia: 12 ways to better sleep


This looks like a useful resource for people who're having trouble sleeping. It includes some educational hand-waving, tips on finding out why you aren't sleeping, plus cautions on the usual outboard sleep solutions (from the environmental to the pharmaceutical).

Here's their long-term, sustainable tips for developing better sleep hygiene:

  • Wind down prior to bedtime
  • Do not smoke (nicotine is a stimulant) or consume caffeine
  • Try warm milk or a light snack before bed (if this doesn't interfere with another treatment you are using)
  • Exercise daily, but not right before bedtime
  • Take a warm bath, but not right before bedtime
  • Keep a regular bedtime and rising time
  • Get in the habit of going to bed when you are sleepy and sleeping where you sleep best
  • Reserve your bed for sleeping only
  • Don't have any clocks visible to you
  • Reduce the amount of time you allow yourself to sleep until you fall asleep easily (your health care provider can help with this form of "sleep restriction therapy"
  • Schedule worry time during the day and put worries out of your head when it is time to sleep; you can write them down on 3x5 cards, and then let go of them
  • Get up if you have not fallen asleep in 15 minutes and practice a relaxing activity (e.g. handwork, reading a boring book) until you feel sleepy

Personally, I cast aside their hand-wringy warnings last night and treated myself to a cocktail of Melatonin and Valerian; slept like a lamb, I tells ya. Now on to cutting out tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, clock-watching, and worry. Yep. Need to get right on that.

What works for you? How do you beat insomnia?

TOPICS: Home Life, Links, Tips

Michael Linenberger: Liberate tasks from your inbox

Get Out of the In Crowd

Fast Company speaks with author Michael Linenberger about not living out of your inbox. Although, like most GTDers, I'm not a big fan of priority- and date-based task management, the advice Linenberger gives is otherwise solid gold from my standpoint. Remember, if you're using your inbox as an ersatz to-do list, you're setting yourself up for a constellation of terrible habits and nearly certain procrastination. Quoting:

When you see a requested action in an email, don't do it immediately. It might be one of the least important things for you to do that day. Instead, immediately identify what the action is and put the email in a task folder. Change the title so that it states what you need to do, and put a due date on it and a priority level. You can do that in 15 or 20 seconds. Then you move right on to the next email. Now you'll get through your to-do email remarkably fast. Drag all of your other emails into a process folder, so you now have an empty inbox, which is a really nice feeling. The next thing you do is go to your task list and ask, "What are the most important things I need to do today?" That's the stuff that would keep you from going home at the end of the day.

[ via: Lifehacker ]

The Art of Packing Light

Carrying off the art of one carry-on

Yesterday, The Chronicle ran a couple great articles on how to pack light for a trip. From "Carrying off the art of one carry-on:"

read more »

NYT: Mixed blessings of workplace tech

Attention- Juggling in the High-Tech Office - New York Times

NYT talks with Ed Reilly of the American Management Association on technology's "double-edged impact in the workplace."

Q. Do all the distractions mean that people don't have time to think deeply about what they're doing?

A. There is certainly some indication that in middle to upper management, that can be a problem. If you don't properly organize your thinking and your time, you can end up concentrating on the urgent rather than the important. You can get tied up being a traffic cop in terms of answering e-mails, when in fact those things can be answered later. Management, particularly the more senior management, needs time to think.

Q. If people have a sale happening on eBay, are using several e-mail platforms and their cellphones and their office lines, does that fracture their attention span?

A. Absolutely. When people switch gears and move from one process to another, our brains require some amount of time to begin thinking about something else. Forget the amount of time you actually spend browsing on the Internet and reading things you don't really need to read for your job. Just the fact that you're switching back and forth means you're not organizing your time correctly.

Q. What impact do the distractions have on working-level people?

A. There's a curious anomaly. These tools produce more productivity. But it doesn't imply that everyone is working at maximal effectiveness. There's a general consensus that managing the quality and quantity of work from knowledge workers has proven to be more difficult than managing the work-study processes that added so much productivity to the industrial age. For example, you can assign people to customer relations jobs. They will, if you make them, respond to, say, 120 inquiries a day. The real question is whether they take a few more minutes to think about what the customer really wants and try to be responsive.

For my money, though, this one is the quote of the week:

Companies go to great lengths to set up lists of authorized approvals, meaning who can approve what size of purchase. But you will find that people who are not authorized to spend $100 on their own are authorized to send e-mails to people and waste hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of company time.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


Subscribe with Google Reader

Subscribe on Netvibes

Add to Technorati Favorites

Subscribe on Pageflakes

Add RSS feed

The Podcast Feed


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. »