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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.


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:

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The Fisher Space Pen: Arglebargle or Fufurah?

The Space Review: The billion-dollar space pen

Knowing I'm such a huge nerd for space pens (previously), it's not surprising that I get a couple emails a month from gloaty people pointing to the high-larious anecdote about how Paul Fisher's write-anywhere pen represents one of the 1960s' greatest boondoggles of government waste and gold-plating.

"Ha!" they note exclamation-pointedly, "these geniuses over at NASA spent [insert boondoggle-y dollar figure of at least $1,000,000] to develop a pen that could write in space. Know what the freakin' Russians used?!? A pencil, dude! A pencil!"

Like I say: hilarious.

Setting aside for a moment whether this disturbing cautionary tale from forty years hence has any bearing on how well the space pen works as advertised for consumers today, the story has its minor failings; it's kind of untrue and not a little misleading.

Apparently, pencils were once used by both sides in the Space Race, but they were reasoned a hazard based on the catastrophic possibilities of tiny broken leads whizzing around in zero gravity. So, as soon as the Space Pen became available and was tested for suitability, it seems the U.S. (as well as, evidently, the Russians) abandoned pencils for good from 1968 on. Anyhow, to my knowledge, any development money for the pen came straight out of Paul Fisher's pocket -- not from NASA nor any other government agency.

I'd known some of this for years, and, of course, have always relished tinkling in readers' bowls of smug by providing the debunking/clarifying Snopes link.

What I didn't know until today was the the whole story behind Paul Fisher's ambitious entry into the space age writing economy. It's a fascinating mix of engineering, marketing, and blatant self-promotion that tangentially involves baloney sandwiches, a diamond ring, and a brassiere:

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TOPICS: Links, Lofi

DIY paper planner

Carthage: Hannibal's Journal: Personal: Rolling my own paper-based time management system

I like this simple homemade paper planner -- especially the free form lined approach for the pages.

What I recently decided to do is make my own day planner, print it up on my laser-jet, and then take it somewhere to have it spiral bound. Since I'm lazy, I didn't want to have to type the date at the top of 365 pages in Word, so I came up with a way to do it by putting "March, 2006" next to the automatically generated page numbers in the header. I also put all the other formatting for the page in the header as well, so that it's reproduced on each page of the document. Then, I just add 31 page breaks and voila, a DIY day planner for the month of March...

The wide lined column is for writing down the day's tasks. The narrower one is for appointments; I just scribble in the time and a note. The "Contacts" region is where I write reminders to get back to people by phone, email, etc. Finally, the "Notes" region is where I write down stuff like confirmation numbers, tracking numbers, phone numbers, and anything else anyone tells me while I'm on the phone that I need to jot down.

Emailing a text-based meeting scheduler

ButtUgly: Main_blogentry_231105_1 [The Iteration List]

A very clever and satisfyingly lo-fi way to find the best date for an event based on several people's schedules. By passing around emails with an ASCII, monotype text representation of the possible dates and times, each person uses a symbol to indicate their preference and availability. Very clever stuff.

       0                 1                   2                   3
       1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
       t f S S m t w t f S S m t w t f S S m t w t f S S m t w t f 
Janne  + + - - + + + + + ? ? + + + + - - - ? ? - - - - - - - - - + 
Ville  + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + -
Kalle  - - - - + + + + e e e - - - + - - - - - - - - - - - - - - +
Sanna  - - e e - - - + ? ? ? + + + + + - - + + - - - - - - + + + +
                     * *           *

From this table, it’s easy to see what would be suitable dates for everyone (marked with “*”). The initiator of the sequence suggets Thursday 8th, and everyone agrees. And while they were at it, they agreed on holding the 15th as “tentative”, so that they get to continue the game if it’s not finished in time. One of the advantages of this calendar is of course that you can immediately see who might not make it - and while everyone is equal, missing someone might not be.

[ Thanks, Brian ]

Applescript to "sync" iCal to your Hipster PDA


Mike McCamon offers a clever way to get just his task list from iCal printed onto index cards for his Hipster PDA. Applescript to the rescue:

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David Seah: The Printable CEO

David Seah - Better Living Through New Media » The Printable CEO

David Seah has a very clever method for making sure he stays focused on the kinds of activities that bring him and his growing business the highest value. He basically scores himself a weighted grade for how valuable each completed task is to his core goal of growing his business. Ooooo...SAT bubbles!

As stupid as this system may sound, it’s actually working. When I get to fill in a bubble, I feel a little surge of pleasure…I’ve been conditioned by standardized testing, apparently. I also get visual confirmation that I’ve done something to move my business forward. This is an interesting example of feedback in a game design sense; over the course of a week, it’s easy to evaluate your progress at any given time. It’s also easy to pick something to do, based on what you’ve done before. The bubble chart becomes a kind of game board in itself. Instead of feeling guilty for not getting to all your tasks on your ToDo list, feel good that you did make progress. Look upon your worksheet for the proof, and feel the sense of accomplishment in your gut!

He reports back a month later:

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"TTTk" puts MacGyver in an Altoids tin

Escape My Head: TTTk, Travel Tinker Trouble Kit

Justin has been working on a "Travel Tinker Trouble Kit" (TTTk, natch), which he conceived "to provide access to a variety of tools and supplies at a moment's notice." The initial list included:

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Goodies from The Word Spy

Found a bunch of goodies yesterday on The Word Spy.

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Mannerheim's Hipster PDA

Mannerheim's Hipster PDA
Originally uploaded by arabella.

Fingers crossed that I wasn’t the only person who had to look up who Carl Mannerheim was. My Finnish history is, let us say, uneven.

Cool handwriting.

TOPICS: Hipster PDA, Lofi

Throw yourself upon the gears...of your assy company

A spectre is haunting your office...the spectre of passionate users.

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TOPICS: Lofi, Work



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

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This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »