43 Folders

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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.


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 »

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?

Folders for organization _and_ action

I recently ran across a mostly-helpful post on a website that mentioned the importance of using email folders for "organization." For some reason, this made me wince. I suspect it's because the day I got good at email was the day when I stopped organizing my messages and started focusing on doing something about them. Is this a distinction without a difference? I don't think so, and I'll tell you why.

As one of the holiest sacraments in the Church of Productivity Pr0n, folders -- be they physical, digital, mind-mapped, or purely notional -- represent the canonical way to put information into thoughtful piles. Folders of any sort afford a kind of higher-level, low-stress thinking that GTD fans in particular seek out. Folders do lots of stuff well:

  • allow me to keep like with like
  • let me not have to think about the things I don't need to think about right now
  • help me know how to find things when I do need them
  • assist me in switching gears quickly
  • make my life less chaotic and messy

So, yeah, folders are great at all of these things, for sure, and yeah, they do help you to get organized, especially in the sense of having less stuff in your life that's sitting around unprocessed. But at what point can a folder become an impediment to smart and timely action? Put more generically: how do we not allow the buckets and cubbyholes in our lives to become affordances for procrastination and dis-organization?

read more »

Mark Morford on de-cluttering (and the SF reuse culture)

The always-enjoyable Mark Morford has a cure for the clutter in your life that doesn't involve gnashing of teeth or the intervention of a TV show. He calls it getting rid of stuff.

read more »



An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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