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.


Can we learn from the proximate candy jar?

Science tackles candy nibbling: clear containers close by get patronized more often than opaque containers a bit further away.

Secretaries ate an average of 7.7 kisses each day when the candies were in clear containers on their desks; 4.6 when in opaque jars on the desk; 5.6 when in clear jars 6 feet away; and 3.1 when in opaque jars 6 feet away...

"Here's the golden lining: If we move food away from us, even 6 feet, we eat less and we overestimate how much we have eaten," the researchers concluded. "It may also work for healthier foods, such as raw fruits or vegetables. What makes the candy dish nutritionally dangerous might bring the fruit bowl back in vogue."

Sure, no duh, right? Put candy out and people eat it. Big whup. Well, maybe. But try processing this from a slightly different angle.

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NYT Magazine: "Meet the Life Hackers"

Meet the Life Hackers - New York Times

_New York Times_ Select subscribers (coughFreeTrialcough) can login to preview an article by Clive Thompson that runs in the Sunday Magazine. It's called "Meet the Life Hackers" and it's a terrific overview of how people, companies, and products are responding to information overload and our (sometimes self-imposed) culture of interruption.

Danny and I pop up, as well as heroes like Mary Czerwinski and the late Bluma Zeigarnik. Clive did a hell of a job with a big and complicated topic, and I'd encourage you to check out the full article when it becomes available for free (Saturday night?). It's really good--I'd never heard, for example, about the research on interrupting telegraph operators. Awesome.

Update 2005-10-15 19:04:08

Now available online for free: Meet the Life Hackers - New York Times

Extended excerpts on Danny and the Genesis of the life-hacking movement:

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Kendall Clark: AlphaSmart Neo's interesting for what it's _not_

On the Joys of Primitive Computing: The AlphaSmart Neo

I keep hearing rumblings about the AlphaSmart Neo, but haven’t put my hands to one yet. Anybody out there got one? Tried one? Seems a bit steep at $250, but I’d love to play with one (<accent belle=“southern”>Why, I declare: I do believe I’ve dropped my kerchief: AlphaSmart, would you be so kind…?</accent>).

Kendall Clark seems to think Neo’s part of a larger trend:

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On the culture of distraction; one pipe for all interruptions?

Driven to distraction by technology | CNET News.com

Really good article on the problems and implications of the interruption-driven lifestyle. Full of great bits, including this:

Businesses could benefit from introducing a collective effort to switch off, Honore said. He points to the marketing department at Veritas Software, which last year instituted “E-mail-free Fridays” for its marketing department. The move came at the behest of Jeremy Burton, an executive vice president who was finding his in-box stuffed with 400 messages a day, many from his own department.

In Burton’s department, employees can’t e-mail one another on Friday, but they are allowed to e-mail customers or other parts of the storage company if they have to. The result? Workers spend more time connecting face to face, and Burton finds his in-box is only half as full.

And when it comes to finishing up a big project, many workers are unplugging altogether—something that Microsoft’s [Chris] Capossela says should not have to be the answer.

Well-written software could offer a better solution, he said. It should help employees stay connected but enable them to receive only messages they want to get—from a boss or family member, say.

Also, Carl Honore, the author of In Praise of Slowness (Amazon.com: US | UK | CA | FR | DE | JP) offers great tips like this, among others:

Before using any time-saving technology, ask yourself if you could perform the task…more efficiently using an old-fashioned method such as walking across the office and talking face to face.

I really do encourage you to read the whole article, because it gets to the heart of a problem that’s contributing to most everyone’s stress and feeling of being constantly overwhelmed. And you might want to follow it up with seeing how Billy G. reportedly carves out a “Think Week” each year.

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Calm Technology: How do I know when I need to know?

"A calm technology will move easily from the periphery of our attention, to the center, and back...."

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An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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