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.


Palimpsest: the guide to a (mostly) paperless life

It seems that many of us otherwise computer-oriented geeks have a surprising and earth-unfriendly confession to make: we love paper. Notwithstanding the entirely digital nature of my own trade, for example, I'll freely admit that there is really nothing quite like the smooth glide of a mechanical pencil over a big sheet of crisp, white office paper to facilitate good writing and thinking.

I can't plan out a new piece of software—or write an essay for that matter—without first messily scribbling my ideas out as mind-maps or rough user-interface sketches onto paper. My brainstorms are too messy and flow too quickly for the computer to be able to accommodate my chaos, yet that early disorder is essential to crafting the order and structure that will follow.

And yet I used to have serious reservations about this tendency to spoodge my thought process onto tree carcasses. It wasn't until I finally learned how to get rid of paper, that I was able properly to embrace its use in my work.

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Making friends with paper (again)

Information R/evolution

I really enjoyed this video presentation by Michael Wesch on how we make, find, and share information in a world where we've shed the idea of paper as our sole medium for storage and communication -- where ideas can munge and mix freely, thanks to digital collaboration.


Now, of course, as a fan of paper for certain kinds of work, I always feel like jumping in at this point to defend our pulpy little friend from what sometimes turns into a blanket party.

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Peter Walsh's clever hanger trick

Here's one of my favorite life-hacky tips from Peter Walsh (guy from Clean Sweep, author of It's All Too Much, and inspiration for my recent War on Clutter).

After you've done a major purge of your closet, remove all the remaining clothes that live on hangers, and put them back in backwards, such that the open end of each hanger now faces you. Got it?

Then, mark your calendar for six months (or whatever) from today, and go back to your business as usual. Except that after every time you wear a shirt or a jacket or a skirt or what have you, when you replace the item, make sure the hanger faces the opposite/usual way (with the opening in the back).

When your n months have passed, and your calendar reminds you that it's time, open your closet and remove every piece of clothing on a backward hanger; the chances are good you can give it away without the slightest pain, because you just clearly demonstrated that you don't wear it.

Here's why I love this.

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Active Voice's free Hipster PDA templates

Active Voice Writing & Editorial Services in Baltimore -- Downloads

Cool-looking collection of CC-licensed Hipster PDA templates include iconic "capture notes," research notes, and (here's a new one for me) a "yarn sorting card." Neat stuff.

Simply drag and drop them to your desktop, or right-click and "save as." Templates are formatted as .png graphics and can be printed as-is or inserted into a formatted document. They can be resized to fit everything from a 3x5 card to a daily organizer to an 8.5x11 sheet.

Kvet.ch features an excellent article on how to print D*I*Y Planner HPDA cards (see the end of this page) directly to 3x5 cards for Mac users. The technique should also work nicely with the templates offered here.

Remember names at meetings by making a map

Meeting Tip: Learning Names | Gurno.com

As someone who suffers from frequent encoding errors and buffer overflows, I love Adam's idea to start a meeting by mapping the name and location of each attendant, along with their title, etc. Adam writes:

Step 1 - Reconnoiter

Draw a quick map of the table/layout of the meeting. Place yourself on it, to give yourself a reference point.

Step 2: The Combatants

As people introduce themselves around the table, fill them in. If you feel last names are necessary add those too, but don't do it at the expense of writing down someone else's name. You can guess at the last names later. If you miss one, leave it blank and fill it in as soon as you can - if someone else refers to them, etc, etc.

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Tips from Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools

Cool Tool: Tips 22

I love when Kevin posts these collections of tips from his readers. They're cut from the same cloth as our life hacks on the wiki.

Like many of 43f's readers, Kevin's contributors also obsess about shaving:

When your container of shaving oil is empty, try filling it with olive oil from the kitchen instead of spending $15 on a new stuff. I discovered that when I ran out a few years ago & I haven't looked back since. Olive oil does just as good a job and costs almost nothing per shave. People have been shaving with olive oil for thousands of years, there's no reason not to continue doing so.

-- Mark James

Many more on Cool Tools (here's the CT "Tips" category).

Podophile on Actiontastic for GTD with your iPod

Getting Things Done With Your iPod

My head swims with the number of Mac GTD apps that have sprung up over the last year or so, one of which is the Quicksilver-friendly Actiontastic. Although I haven't spent more than a few minutes playing with Actiontastic, as described by Podophile it appears to merit a look for Hipster PDA-centric iPod fans:

Syncing to my iPod is obviously another big feature for me. At the click of a button, all of your Projects and Context Lists are sent to your Notes folder, making it easy to review them anywhere you happen to be. Obviously, you can’t add or edit items directly with your iPod, but that’s why I always carry my Hipster POD with me. It’s easy enough to input any new items when I get back to my computer.

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HOWTO generate a kGTD Project list for your weekly review

While OmniFocus is under development (and yes, friends, I have seen it: it is actual software that does things), we Kinkless users will have to make do as we can for now. And while I still find my own kGTD setup oddly stable given its byzantine under-the-hood workings (think: innards of Cylon Raider meets Brazil's pneumatic tubes), there are definitely times when I crave just a bit more canonical GTD functionality.

One of the most vexing shortcomings in kGTD (God bless it) is the lack of a formal Project list -- one easy location to glance just all of the obligations and desirable outcomes that are on your horizon, without reference to the tasks that comprise them. David Allen has repeatedly said that the project list is critical (as I recall, his quote in our interviews was "...the Project list is king."), and, honestly, lacking an all-in-one Project list for your weekly review is kind of like sitting down to the SATs without your two sharpened #2 pencils.

My solution for this has two components -- one mostly behavioral and one mildly technical. Both are squirrely and lofi and your mileage may vary. As ever.

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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. »

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