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


Open Thread: Mac Mind Mapping, and how you use it

I've recently revived my interest in doing mind mapping as a way to capture ideas and plan out projects.

Back in the day, I'd use Inspiration (which registration regrettably died a few years ago), and in more recent times I've played with free apps like My Mind and FreeMind, as well as tested more costly apps like NovaMind and MindManager.

If you also like to mind map, I'm curious to hear which of these you and your Mac are using, how you're using it, and what made you choose one app over another. Got a preference? Prefer regular old paper and markers? Using lots of images in your mind maps? Which pay app is most worth the dough, and why?

And for folks who are new to mind mapping, here's a few links to get you started:

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Mini-reviews: LabelWriter 400, Polder Vibrating Timer, "Beyond Bullet Points"

I was adding a few items I recently bought and enjoyed over in the right rail, and by the time I was done writing the “TITLE” tags I realized I had three shortie reviews.

After the cut, LabelWriter 400 by Dymo, Vibrating Digital Timer by Polder, and Beyond Bullet Points by Cliff Atkinson.

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Michael Angeles: Hipster PDA gear

The evolving configuration of my LowFi PDA | urlgreyhot

Michael’s Hipster PDA

Michael Angeles on his super-slim lofi setup and a very cool-sounding pen:

I now carry around the Fischer Space Pen I got for Christmas a few years ago, a Nick(it) wallet I got for free in the goody bag from MAD Museum's Mad About Dance event, and a small stack of index cards.

Problem is that I often take the pen out and throw it in a bag or something so I find myself on a subway train with an idea, but nothing to write with. Tina pointed to the Inka Pen, which looks perfect.

If I attach it to my keys, I'll never be without it. Sweetness.

Ooooo...Daddy like. Anybody else tried this Inka Pen? Looks like a very clever design. (See also: Gizmodo: The Inka Pen Lets You Write Underwater)

Back to GTD: Do a fast "mind-sweep"

This post is part of the periodic “Back to GTD” series, designed to help you improve your implementation of David Allen’s Getting Things Done.

Whether you learned GTD from the book or heard it from The David himself (via one of his excellent seminars), you know that the vital first stage of Getting Things Done is Collection.

As laid out in Chapter 5:

Basically, everything is already being collected, in the larger sense. If it's not being directly managed in a trusted external system of yours, then it's resident somewhere in your psyche. The fact that you haven't put an item in your in-basket doesn't mean you haven't got it. But we're talking here about making sure that everything you need is collected somewhere other than in your head.

And, as David succinctly states elsewhere in the book, if you don't use a dedicated inbox in the context of a healthy collection habit, your whole house or office turns into your inbox. And that just doesn't scale. Failing to do so in recent weeks may be why you've fallen off the GTD wagon.

So, just as you learned Collection as the first step in implementing GTD (and to subsequently maintain your system), it's precisely the place to start when you're trying to properly get back into it.

And for the errant GTDer, I feel like the most powerful collection exercise is what DA calls "the mind-sweep."

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Tool Updates: D*I*Y Planner; GTD Tiddly Wiki Plus

There's been some interesting activity lately on two of the productivity tools that a lot of our readers like to follow.

D*I*Y Planner 3.0

D*I*Y Planner 3.0 (Classic/A5 Edition) | D*I*Y Planner

Douglas Johnston has recently released v 3.0 of his Classic/A5 D*I*Y Planner. If you haven't seen this before, Douglas has put together a Creative Commons-licensed version of the plain-paper templates usually associated with Costly Paper Planners. But he's added some lovely design touches as well as some creative templates that are meant to support GTD and other popular productivity systems. Douglas says, of this version:

Way more professional and extensive, covering not only time/project management but also lifestyle, health, creativity and more (e.g., life balance, storyboards, diet tracker, finances, exercise log, story submissions, etc.). Nearly 200 pages of templates are included.

While, in my opinion, the recent 'net obsession with "things you can print at home" has gotten out of hand -- y'know they have graph paper in stores now? -- Douglas has added a lot more than blue quadrille lines here. This is thoughtful stuff, and if you love the immediacy of paper but don't want to spend a fortune on a big folio from Staples, this may be right up your alley.

N.B. Fans of a tricked-out Hipster PDA can look forward to an index card edition late next month. Until then, the 2.0 HPDA edition is still available on his site.

GTD Tiddly Wiki Plus

GTDTiddlyWiki Plus - your simple client side wiki

Although I'm a little confused over exactly who's doing what to which version (why does my brain freeze up whenever I see words like "wiki" and "plus"?), it appears that GTD Tiddly Wiki Plus is a project to revive the popular (but stalled?) GTD Tiddly Wiki. According to Ted Pavlic, on the 43F wiki:

GTD TiddlyWiki Plus is much better than GTD TiddlyWiki because it is not a derivative of TiddlyWiki; it actually is TiddlyWiki. This means that plugins and macros can be added and the system can be upgraded as new versions of TiddlyWiki come out.

I haven't spent much time with this new release, but I'm intrigued by the idea of "plug-ins" as well as the idea that Ted plans to afford a "kGTD-like usage" for the GTDTWP.

I played with the last release of GTD Tiddly Wiki last summer, and I think it's a fascinating chunk of functionality. It's not really my particular cup of tea for everyday usage, but I really recommend you have a look for yourself. I get so much mail about the best way to "live" on two or more computers, and -- at least from a "GTD system" standpoint -- this seems like one novel solution.

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 ]

Make #4 now available

MAKE: Technology on Your Time, Volume 04

O'Reilly's quarterly Make Magazine Volume #4 is now available for order from Amazon.com.

As ever it will be filled with new ways to turn your doorbell into a death laser or make a functional hovercraft from a Mr. Coffee or even remove the DRM from a six-pack of Mr. Pibb. It's all in there, along with the usual "Life Hacks" column from Danny and me.

This month's column features our long-anticipated showdown/throwdown on digital vs. paper. Two step into the octagon and only one, One, ONE will step out. (Well, actually: after realizing it's all been a simple misunderstanding, they shake hands and agree to work quietly on separate projects.)

An excerpt:

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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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Let us now praise Post-it notes

Phil's cool trick reminds me that I do love me some Post-it notes. How do you use 'em?

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Introducing the Hipster PDA

This article was originally posted during the first week of 43 Folders' existence, and, pound for pound, it remains one of the most popular page on the site. Please be sure to also visit related pages, browse our Hipster PDA topic area, plus, of course you can search on the Hipster PDA across our family of sites.

Recently, I got sick of lugging my Palm V around, so I developed a vastly superior, greatly simplified device for capturing and sharing information. I call it “The Hipster PDA.”

read more »



An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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