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.


FMP: Ruby script for text lists

For you plain text nerds, Nick Fagerlund has developed a nifty little Ruby script for managing your lists of tasks or what have you.

The basic idea is to capture anything you need into one text file, with one item per line. He (and I) recommend using a Quicksilver trigger to append to that file of your choice as you work. When adding an item, you use a "category" tag (as in "^category") which you type at the beginning of each line you.

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Kathy Sierra on "keeping up"

Kathy Sierra has a good post the other day about the problem of "keeping up," and, in particular, how so many of us feel compelled to take on unrealistic reading loads and then feel bad about not being able to deal with it.

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TOPICS: Life Hacks, Links

USA Today: Smart CEOs watch how you treat the staff

USATODAY.com - CEOs say how you treat a waiter can predict a lot about character

I was a busboy in junior high and high school and a waiter in college, and I hardily concur that the behavior of a restaurant patron can unintentionally reveal loads about their character.

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TOPICS: Links, Work

Mindfulness: The practice of being "here"

As I mentioned in a recent Lifehacker interview with Matt, I've been casting about for a good way to work in my newfound interest in mindfulness, or the ostensibly Buddhist practice of bringing your attention and focus back to the present moment, primarily through breathing and awareness.

Well, here you go: one rank Western novice's collection of blurbs and excerpts on an ancient (yet oddly timely) method for easing yourself back into this moment -- any day, at any time, and in anything you choose to do.

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Writer's Almanac podcast available

Well I'm very happy to note that those 300 daily seconds of The Writer's Almanac are now available as a downloadable podcast. Good on Garrison, and good on APM. (I know Mr. K can be a little nutty with the copyright and trademarks, so I can only imagine this was a decision that came with a certain amount of deliberation.)

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GTD Prayer

gilest.org: The GTD Prayer

Giles Turnbull has added a long-overdue liturgical element to the world of Getting Things Done.

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Levy: The frazzled attention of the "always on"

Levy: Digital Distractions Bad for the Workplace - Newsweek Technology - MSNBC.com

Steven Levy on continuous partial attention and "The Attention Economy" at ORA's Emerging Technology Conference.

But there's a problem in the workplace when the interruptions intrude on tasks that require real concentration or quiet reflection. And there's an even bigger problem when our bubble of connectedness stretches to ensnare us no matter where we are. A live BlackBerry or even a switched-on mobile phone is an admission that your commitment to your current activity is as fickle as Renée Zellweger's wedding vows. Your world turns into a never-ending cocktail party where you're always looking over your virtual shoulder for a better conversation partner. The anxiety is contagious: anyone who winds up talking to a person infected with [continuous partial attention] feels like he or she is accepting an Oscar, and at any moment the music might stop the speech.

In her talk, Stone was careful to acknowledge the benefits of perpetual contact. But her message is that the balance has tilted way too far toward distraction, creating a sense of constant crisis. "We're not ever in a place where we can make a commitment to anything," she explained to me when I called her a few days later. "Constantly being accessible makes you inaccessible." All so true.

I have to concur on the ironic hilarity of an ETech ostensibly being devoted to the topic of "The Attention Economy." As someone who's been both on the dais and down in the pit, I don't think I've ever seen so many overstimulated people struggling to find even more stimulation. It's harrowing.

[ via the 43F Board ]

TOPICS: Links, Technology

ASCII BBS file of household tips


While Googling the best way to fix a slamming door, I came across this great ASCII file of "all-time best hints for making household repairs." It's cribbed from a mid-90s issue of Mother Earth News, and has a bunch of great little tips.

  • To cut down on slamming noise, put tabs of leftover peel-and-stick foam weather stripping at several spots all around the doorstop...
  • A squeaky floor is usually caused by two or more boards rubbing against each other. Silence the noise by sprinkling talcum powder over the boards and sweeping it into the cracks...
  • When drilling into the ceiling, poke a hole through the center of a throwaway aluminum pie pan. Hold the pan over the area to be drilled, and poke the bit through. This way the pan will catch most of the dust.

The file's part of the survival section of the awesomely old-school textfiles.com, which is a large collection of old text files from BBSs in the 80s and 90s. So fun. Don't miss the sections on mass media, internet, and anarchy.

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TOPICS: Links, Tips

Life Tools: Personal development mini-site

Browse Life Tools

UK-based collection of "life tools" covering topics like time management, stress management, decision making, etc.

Similar to (the oft-linked and more exhaustive) "Mind Tools," there's several cool articles in here if you dig around a bit (along with the now-ubiquitous Capital Letter Nouns for you corner-office types). A few I particularly like are Force Field Analysis, Meditation and Changing Behaviour.

Nothing earth-shatteringly new, but I do think these sorts of extreme distillations can sometimes be useful in providing people a foothold toward improving their world. Just underneath the candy-colored shells of pop psychology and "personal development," you can often find some profound, reliable, and time-tested insights into what makes us tick.

Then, of course, there's "Mission Statements." If you're -- you know -- looking to state your mission.

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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. »