Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.
Matt Wood | Jan 9 2008
Howard Rheingold, online pioneer and dapper man of the mustache and Indiana Jones hats, has started a new video blog to update his seminal 1992 essay, “A Slice of Life in my Virtual Community,” with how he spends his time online with today’s technologies. The first video is a little remedial, but what caught my eye is his promise to clue us in to his daily process, including not only his office time, but time spent on hobbies like painting and gardening. Looking back at that sentence, I know that sounds about as exciting as getting a flu shot, but I’m a sucker for watching how smart people manage their days. Should be worth a watch.read more »
Merlin Mann | Oct 12 2006
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Merlin Mann | Oct 1 2006
If you're a fan of Getting Things Done, you're familiar with the Four Criteria Model for choosing tasks. It's where the rubber meets the road in GTD, because it's the way you decide, in the moment, how any one of those wonderful tasks you've been tracking in your big system actually gets done.
As common sense as it seems to GTD'ers, this model is one of the more controversial aspects of Getting Things Done for a simple reason: it posits that priority is not the only factor in deciding what to do at a given time. It's just one of four factors, which include, all told:
When I'm helping coach people on getting it together, they're often puzzled by this seeming bit of new-agery -- partly, I suspect, because most of us have been conditioned all our lives to think that pre-ordained Priority stamps always trump everything, all the time, always, forever, in all cases, end of story. But is it true, reasonable, or even physically possible to always work this way? Can you will yourself into doing only your identified high-priority items anytime, all the time?
Nope, and I'll show you one reason why.read more »
Merlin Mann | Sep 18 2006
Merlin Mann | Sep 15 2006
My usage of Mail Act-On, while far from novel, has revolutionized the speed with which I can blow through email processing.
If you've never seen it before, Mail Act-On is a very clever Mail.app plugin that lets you create key commands that execute Rules you've generated in your Preferences. Sounds pretty dull, right? Absolutely. Until you start putting this stuff into action and learn how painfully slow all that draggy mc drag drag business is. Here's how I've set mine up.read more »
Merlin Mann | Sep 12 2006
Shiran Pasternak writes to ask:
This is a really good question -- especially given how many people are suffering from the first-world problem of having way too many cool Mac apps to choose from for this kind of work. The short answer is to slim down the number of tools you're frequently using, but to then be sure you also do something smart and repeatable with everything you've captured. The longer explanation...read more »
Merlin Mann | Aug 24 2006
Good advice on developing a tunnel for how you draft stuff that will eventually go on your blog. I think #3 ("Let it develop") -- while it could benefit from a bit more explanation -- is the really interesting part. Try not posting immediately, and return to the draft later on:
5ives: The text file behind the curtain
I do something similar with 5ives, where this kind of process is really conducive. I have a running, two-year-old collection of ideas, partial lists, orphan titles and lots of "one fun line I could build a good list around." Goofy as many of them are, some actually sat around since the site began until they evolved to the exact choices, wording, and order that I liked.
Tip: Use text folding
Since this kind of collection method can get messy (over 100 partial piles of junk in one text file), I like to use text folding inside TextMate. This makes it easy to "roll up" lists in such a way that just the title shows, then you can individually click a little "reveal" arrow to see the hoisted contents. Something like this (note the arrows in the gutter):
The beauty part is that I can still append text to the bottom (or prepend to the top) using Quicksilver since it's all just plain old text. Neato.
[ via Gina on Lifehacker ]
Merlin Mann | Aug 17 2006
I enjoyed this recent ATC story about the interview skills guru, John Sawatsky. "The Sawatsky Method" contrasts sharply with the confrontational attack dog methods most of us associate with people like Mike Wallace:
Even for non-journalists, if you need to conduct the occasional interview, Sawatsky's got some golden tips.
Merlin Mann | Aug 8 2006
Over on the DavidCo forum, Lisa asks:
It mightn't surprise you to know I'd want to learn a bit more implementation and about how David sees contexts working best for people whose work mostly happens in one place (recently).
But I'm especially curious to hear what you guys would ask, given the chance. What would you ask David Allen about Getting Things Done?
Merlin Mann | Jul 31 2006
As we've noted before, GTD contexts lose a lot of their focusing power when either a) most of your work takes place at one context (e.g. "@computer"), or b) you start using contexts more for taxonomical labeling than to reflect functional limitations and opportunities. As you may have discovered, these problems can collide catastrophically for many knowledge workers, artists, and geeks.
Part of what makes the Natural Planning Model so attractive are the decisions that can be guided by contextual limitations ("I'm near a phone" vs. "I'm at the grocery store" vs. "I'm at my computer"). While it's definitely a kind of "first world problem" to have, facing the unlimited freedom to chose from any of a bajillion similar tasks from similar projects with similar outcomes is not nearly as fun as it first sounds. Consider the contextual hairballs of certain jobs and tasks:read more »
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