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Merlin Mann | Feb 14 2006
I feel like I must have linked to this before but, screw it, it's too good not to share again.
Written for the NYT's "Writers on Writing" series, these are Elmore Leonard' 10 tips for "disappearing" from what you're writing.
A few to give you the flavor:
Love that bit about 2-3 exclamation points every 100k words -- treating it like the fire alarm of prose fiction.
Merlin Mann | Feb 6 2006
Here are a few of my favorite (and the site's most popular) posts on that heated topic of email -- how to better deal with email as a recipient, and how to improve the lives of others as a better sender. Email is a subject that invigorates (and occasionally infuriates) me, so get ready for plenty more in the future. But if you're one of the seemingly innumerable people who's snowed under by email or unsure how to deal with it at a responsible level, flip through a few of these oldies, and see if any ideas jump out at you.read more »
Merlin Mann | Feb 2 2006
Seriously, though, suck it up and just check for new mail as seldom as your job and your patience will possibly permit. Really push the envelope on this, even just for half a day, and see if you don't notice a difference. The world actually can spin without you for a while.read more »
Merlin Mann | Feb 2 2006
Merlin Mann | Feb 1 2006
Not all tasks are created equal. Our to-dos all differ in priority, complexity, time requirement, and context, so it’s probably daft to always capture and expose them in an identical way. I have a little trick for dealing with this that’s been working really well for me.
Back in the day, my to-do list was an egalitarian nightmare of inefficiency — verb-centric “next actions” through they all were, I commonly faced a task list that looked something like this:
Now, the problem here might be self-evident to you smarter people, but I was missing an important concept: there is such a thing as too granular a task to track as its own event. In this instance, I was cruftifying my landscape with items that were way too detailed or tiny and, consequently, I’d turned my task list into an undoable roller coaster of un-focus. Just as “projects” are composed of “tasks,” I like to think that “tasks” themselves can often be collected into silos of small “mosquito tasks.” And my solution, as ever: text files and alarms.read more »
Merlin Mann | Jan 30 2006
The beauty of kGTD lies in its single-minded focus on managing your tasks in the context of the projects with which they're associated. Add too much else (or get lazy with your level of commitment to what you've added) and the system starts to fall apart. And yet it's so useful to have easy access to the people, websites, and documents that you'd like associated with your tasks and projects. OS X to the rescue, because OmniOutliner makes it very easy to drag and drop virtually any kind of Mac data object into a given OO document -- and, consequently, to keep the non-task corners of your world never further than a click away.read more »
Merlin Mann | Jan 16 2006
My pal and occasional partner-in-crime, Ethan Kaplan, has begun a series on how he keeps his astonishingly overstimulated life together. The first installment mostly covers his environment and setup for home, work, and mobile computing.read more »
Merlin Mann | Jan 9 2006
If you don't have one already, draw up a list of all the projects that are on your radar screen right now -- all the active or dormant projects that will require some kind of task work (or even just mental bandwidth) by the end of this month. If you're doing Getting Things Done, you probably already have a list like this, but it might not hurt to just grab a piece of paper and do a fresh "mini-dump" of all the obligations and outcomes that are squatting on the edges of your brainpan.
Study your list, and think about the real value of everything you've theoretically undertaken. Any of these apply...?
Got it? Good. Surprised at how much you actually have on your mind? You ain't alone, sister.
Okay, so now set that list down, and grab a fresh sheet of paper.
Without thinking too deeply about it, start jotting down all the things you'd love to be starting right now. Be reasonable; this isn't about fantasies of unassisted flight or basement alchemy so much as garden-variety growth, development, and fun. What are the things that, given the proper focus and time, would bring you the most satisfaction for the time you spend on it -- or could serve as a bridge to achieving higher aspirations you've been smacking down because you're "too busy" with other stuff?
Good candidates:read more »
Merlin Mann | Jan 6 2006
This is something I've mentioned before, but since it's worked so well for me I think it deserves a place in our Modest Changes series.
I've had a habit over the years of allowing myself to get so busy that "no" becomes my default answer to practically every question -- this has been especially true when it came to helping with friends' projects or doing non-paying work for worthy causes.
Obviously, in many ways it's healthy to learn how to say no; you avoid over-committing by ensuring that you've thought through all the work on your plate and then never take on new commitments without knowing there's room to spare.
The good news is that there's actually an even healthier middle path between "Sure. Anything you say" and "No way. Never." I call it "the qualified 'yes.'"read more »
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