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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.


Six cool Quicksilver plugins you might not know

Just a quickie to bubble up some novel Quicksilver plugins that are new-ish or even a bit esoteric.

N.B.: Clicking the linked title of the plugin should install it if you're running a recent version of QS, although I think you should also be able to install most of these right from the Plug-ins Preferences.

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43F Podcast: Putting Geeks in Context

The 43 Folders Podcast

Putting Geeks in Context

43folders.com - One way around the geek's problem with GTD contexts? Step away from the computer. (4:37)

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Inbox Zero: Better Practices for staying (near) zero

This post is part of the Inbox Zero series.

You've doubtless already discovered your inbox won't stay at zero -- and it shouldn't. As I said yesterday, this is a process, not some miraculous one-time event like a tonsillectomy or a Jandek concert. And you can't just wave a magic wand every couple weeks and make it all go away. Why not use the august occasion of your newly empty inbox as the chance to start mending your ways going forward?

As a person who has done the near-impossible and managed to establish a temporary beachhead against the occupying email army, you are your own best expert in what needs to change to keep things together, but I'd like to share a few things that have helped me stay email-sane (most of the time).

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TOPICS: Email, Tips

Inbox Zero: What have you learned?

This post is part of the Inbox Zero series.

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TOPICS: Email, Tips

ASCII BBS file of household tips


While Googling the best way to fix a slamming door, I came across this great ASCII file of "all-time best hints for making household repairs." It's cribbed from a mid-90s issue of Mother Earth News, and has a bunch of great little tips.

  • To cut down on slamming noise, put tabs of leftover peel-and-stick foam weather stripping at several spots all around the doorstop...
  • A squeaky floor is usually caused by two or more boards rubbing against each other. Silence the noise by sprinkling talcum powder over the boards and sweeping it into the cracks...
  • When drilling into the ceiling, poke a hole through the center of a throwaway aluminum pie pan. Hold the pan over the area to be drilled, and poke the bit through. This way the pan will catch most of the dust.

The file's part of the survival section of the awesomely old-school textfiles.com, which is a large collection of old text files from BBSs in the 80s and 90s. So fun. Don't miss the sections on mass media, internet, and anarchy.

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TOPICS: Links, Tips

Inbox Zero: Where filters will and won't help

This post is part of the Inbox Zero series.

Filters and scripts can greatly minimize the manual processing you do each day as well as way cut down on unnecessary interruptions. The trouble comes when you're filtering so much stuff (especially via "sender" and "subject" filters) that you end up scattering useful and timely updates into a jillion different places out of view. This can be that rarest of beasts where you've actually automated too much.

Instead, focus on creating filters and scripts for any noisy, frequent, and non-urgent items which can be dealt with all at a pass and later. Depending on what you consider noise, this could probably include:

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TOPICS: Email, Tips

Transmit: Editing on a remote server

For a while now, Transmit -- my hands-down choice for all things FTP -- has had a feature that I adore, which is the ability to edit text files from a remote server directly in the local Mac editor of my choice (in my case, that's the very swell TextMate. This little bit of wizardry makes it really easy to quickly fix code, tweak style sheets, or correct spelling without that nightmarish 90s ritual of the re-re-re-re-reupload (which is particularly painful when you're working on a live application).

Well, heck. I just figured out that the latest version of Transmit takes this to a another (yes! yet! another!) level by letting you edit images on a remote server. I just opened a .png in Photoshop and saw the saved results immediately appear on the live box. Disco.

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5 apps to rescue the distracted

Has your Mac turned into a shooting gallery full of distractions? Do your eyes spin like pinballs every time you sit down to work? Try a few of these apps to help discourage attention-grabbers and force your sickeningly versatile computer (and yourself) into doing just one thing at a time.

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Running More Productive Meetings

I very much enjoyed Ethan's recent post about avoiding "vampire meetings" and thought I'd share a few of my own tips for getting the most out of your meetings -- primarily from the perspective of being the organizer and facilitator. For the love of God, please respect your poor colleagues' time.

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Make #5 is out; "Smarter To-do" posts still available

Make Volume 05: Science

Make no. 5Another quarter, another sexy-ass issue of O'Reilly's Make Magazine. And that means another Life Hacks column from Danny and me. (Amazon.com link)

This time around, I laced-up for a knockdown, drag-out, one round intro to "Building a Smarter To-do List." The two posts from which it was inspired are still two of the most popular items on 43F.

While you can argue for the flavor and approach to task management that best suits your style, it's hard to disparage the benefits that come from getting task commitments out of your brain and captured in a consistent location. The Life Hacks research showed that most all of the alpha geeks had a "todo.txt" sitting in their home directory -- often comprising thousands of items covering every aspect of the geek's life, both past and future. In this case, we're focusing more on the to-do list as tactical game plan; until you get really good at this stuff, try thinking of your to-do list as the evolving strategy for focusing your effort and attention in the immediate future.

If you're saving your pennies, or liked the column and would like to learn more, you might want to cruise back through the original posts from last September. I still really like how they turned out --- and I actually do re-read them myself when I'm having trouble getting my stuff together. Yes, I'm actually that unproductive; I have to look to myself for advice. Pathetic, really.

Anyway, reintroduced here, "The Smarter To-do List":

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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

Merlin’s scared. You’re scared. Everybody is scared.

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