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.


Map Folding: Building a Weekly Plan

I've sometimes struggled to cover the middle ground between high-level project planning (What projects do I have? and When are they due?) and ground-level daily execution (Call Jim; Draft Report; Fix CSS align in right rail nav). I've noticed that I'm often disappointed—not with what I accomplish in a given day—but with how far I've moved a project forward by the end of a working week.

At the same time, I have to confess a small frustration with the Getting Things Done notion of a "next action": if I'm really scrupulous about capturing every next thing I know I need to do, I end up with an unusably long and unstructured list (remember: my work is mostly one big "@online" context). At the same time, I try to be good about not putting too many to-dos in my hard-landscape calendar. So, while I know the raw materials for focused work are all there, I sometimes find it challenging to make meaningful clusters of activity from them without re-thinking everything five times a day (I mean, isn't that the point of planning ahead?).

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Idiot-proofing your tickler maintenance

After reading the recent caterwaul about my sloppy GTD habits, Shannon Lee emailed with a great hack for making sure your tickler file gets reviewed each day.

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The Forehead Ticket Trick

So, you’re going to a ticketed event, like a concert or a ball game. It’s out of town. You’re carpooling with four other people. How do you ensure that everyone in the car has their ticket with them?

The car doesn't move until each person takes out their ticket and holds it to their forehead.

Been doing it for 20 years, and you’d be amazed how often it saves the day.

Hack your way out of writer's block

I recently had occasion to do some…errr…research on writer’s block. Yeah, research. That’s what I was doing. Like a scientist.

I found lots of great ideas to get unstuck and wrote the best ones on index cards to create an Oblique Strategies-like deck. Swipe, share, and add you own in comments.

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Quicksilver: Me & My Arrow

O, Quicksilver, that little minx. The way she hides her functionality in coquettish little corners vexes and delights me. Did you know, for example, friends, how much you can do with Quicksilver and your modest arrow keys? Me neither. Til now.

So, quick review: once invoked, Quicksilver primarily uses the arrow keys to let you navigate through hierarchies and sets of matches. Up and down arrows let you surf sibling contents of a given directory or catalog, while the left and right arrows allow you to drill down and back up out of hierarchical levels, such as nested folders and the like. (Related tip: you can also surf up and down most any hierarchy using / and Shift-/)

All easy enough, right? But did you ever try clicking the right arrow key with an application selected? Well, you should.

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Fast way to get unstuck

I really like the idea behind "List Your Way Out Of Stuckness"--particularly that notion of breaking your tasks into smaller and smaller pieces. I also just like the word “stuckness.”

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TextMate projects: faking metadata

Wrote this long-winded post to the TextMate list, so I thought I’d repurpose it here. Just quick tips on adding metadata to your text files and—because I’m a dull and repetitive scold—using controlled vocabularies to keep your stuff searchable.

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NPR RSS feeds

Had no idea NPR provided RSS feeds for upcoming features on their marquee programs.

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Hot-rodding SideTrack for web browsing

Funny thing. I installed SideTrack primarily for its ability to emulate the “CTRL-click” (or “right-click”) on my one-button PowerBook. I tried it for a week, almost loved it and eventually disabled that one feature because it was driving me nuts (forever glancingly tapping the trackpad and getting contextual menus everywhere. Gaaah!). Well, the good news is that I love practically everything else about SideTrack and thought I’d share how I’m using it to hotrod my web surfing in particular.

So here’s screenshots of my setup, with notes where needed. Note that although I'm using Safari here, many of these bits should be even more applicable on Firefox, which generally allows more granular preferences control as well as more key bindings, I believe.

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TextMate parking lot

I can tell I’ll be spending a lot of the next few days exploring TextMate. In the interest of efficiency, I’ll park all my preliminary notes and “gee whiz” stuff in this post. I may do a fuller review/intro later, but I want to share what I’m learning since there’s so much interest in this app.

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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. »