43 Folders

Back to Work

Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

Join us via RSS, iTunes, or at 5by5.tv.

”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Vox Populi

Ultradian Rhythms & the 20-minute Break

I had a Psychology teacher back at New College (who's now apparently an expert in the Klingon language), who used to talk about how the human body had these ±90-minute cycles. And that if you could become aware of yours, you could do Great Things -- particularly because you could learn the optimal time to snag a nap versus, say, try to cure small-cell carcinoma.

read more »

Dine-O-Matic (and the Dashboard widgets we love)

I finally found a "business case" for Dashboard today with the discovery of the perfectly-delightful Dine-O-Matic, a beautiful little widget from the graphical geniuses at Iconfactory that does precisely one thing: choose a random restaurant for you to eat at.

read more »

GTD with a Mac label maker?

multipart/mixed: Turbo-Charging the Dymo LabelWriter

Dymo LabelWriter 330

I love my Brother PT-65, which is regarded by many as the unofficial official label maker of GTD nerds (and which, quizzically, appears to have been discontinued :-().

The PT-65 has easily paid back its modest sticker price with three years of faithful service. Trouble is, I like using it so much that it's gotten to be kind of a pain to pull it out and Blackberry-thumb-type my bajillion labels via its teeny keys. Now, I want something that hooks up to my Mac.

Josh Carter's gotten me interested in the Dymo LabelWriter 330 Turbo via this handy tutorial from late last year, which covers basic setup info, plus a tip on speeding up the creation of a new label with Quicksilver.

Josh has good stuff to say about the 330:

The advantages of the LabelWriter, as I see it:

  • The Dymo software is easy to configure for "power user mode" which eliminates all the extra dialog baggage, and then it's wicked fast to use. (Doubly so with Quicksilver in the mix.)
  • You get to use your computer's nice keyboard. This is especially important for me since I use the Dvorak key layout.
  • The Dymo labels are cheap and look totally pro, even better than a stand-alone label maker.
  • Labels are the same size, so reusing a folder is as simple as sticking a new label over the old one, and it still looks nice.
  • You can use fancy Mac OS X features like printer sharing if needed. (I tried it, it works great.)

Anybody using one of these units or similar? Care to recommend a label maker of any brand that hooks up via USB and works well with Tiger/OS X? I ♥ my little Brother, but I'm ready for Label Maker 2.0!

Favorite Windows email tricks and plugins

I'm working on an article about email tricks for one of your finer magazines, and -- as you might imagine -- when it comes to the inevitable Windows stuff, I'm a bit light in the useful tips department. So, I turn to you Redmond-using smarties for help.

Do you have a favorite application, plugin, trick, or hack for bending Windows email to your will? Double-credit for Outlook add-ons that garden-variety users can install without fancy root-style access. Whence comes your magic Windows fu?

Open Thread: How are you using Excel?

Yesterday, I mentioned I'd been talking with someone who's looking at interesting things people are doing with Microsoft Excel. I talked to her again yesterday, and with her official okey-dokey, I'll virtually introduce Tralee Pearce (*waves*), a reporter from Toronto's Globe & Mail whom you might remember from a very swell article about the Hipster PDA.

So, by request -- and to help Tralee with fleshing out her fun-sounding article -- I hope you all will jump in here: What kind of cool, novel, and non-obvious stuff are you doing with Excel? What's the wildest, most obsessive, most nerdy thing you ever saw someone do with our favorite spreadsheet program?

Open Thread: What's your killer app?

The other day I was talking with someone about the novel and non-obvious ways that people use Excel in their work and home life. Gotta say, I've personally seen some pretty amazing stuff happen when people take a favorite app, get really good at it, then bend it to their will. (And Excel is perfect for this.)

This tracks to Danny's Life Hack concept by which the alpha geeks were achieving lofty heights of productivity partly by mastering 1-3 "killer apps" -- then using them to solve most of their information and functional problems in fairly novel ways.

So my question for you: What's your killer app? Is there one place where 80% or more of your activity takes place (by choice)? Vim? Excel? Perl? Firefox? Post-it Notes? What's yours and when did you realize you'd become a badass at using it?

What would you ask David Allen?

Forums - Ask David any question

Over on the DavidCo forum, Lisa asks:

If you could ask David Allen any one question about GTD, what would it be?

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?

Open Thread: Leopard Preview

Apple - Apple - Mac OS X - Leopard Sneak Peek

Like most of you, I'm keeping an eye on today's previewed features of the upcoming "Leopard" (OS X 10.5) release.

Looks like some interesting ideas -- many of which, as usual, seem inspired by existing third-party products.

I think I'm most intrigued so far by the idea of "to-do" functionality from within Mail.app (thanks for the tip, Matt); let's hope that also means I can deep link to a given email from my iCal task list. I also welcome the concept of built-in email templates -- although I'm kind of bummed that they seem more focused on execrable 1999-style HTML emails than on the kind of functional time-savers found in the peerless MailTemplate.

To be honest, on first blush -- and I'm sure there's much more to come by the time of release -- this feels a bit cute and a little light on really revolutionary stuff (the long overdue promise of something like Time Machine notwithstanding). Stuff like (yet. more.) iLife integration is handy enough for the notional Swithcher and Grandpa Joe, but in general I guess I'm hoping for some serious power-user improvements to the core functionality. Maybe that's just me.

What do you think? What's "Yeah!" and what's "Meh?" Anybody else holding out hope for some really deep Finder rewriting and more functional iCal updates?

read more »

AskMe: How to become an eccentric (or just look like one)

Suggest eccentricities for me to adopt | Ask MetaFilter

From a fun AskMe thread:

In my quest to become more distinctive, I'm looking for suggestions of harmless eccentricities to adopt. Who better than the MeFi hive mind to provide them? Anecdotes of eccentric folk you've known in the past welcome.

This reminds me of that stage where teenage girls randomly start to affect a terrible british accent, or when college freshmen suddenly stop wearing shoes and take up raw foods and the shakuhachi. Of course, this is not to say that I haven't had ideas of my own.

’Fess up: what was your goofiest affectation and what made you stop it?

read more »

LazyWeb: Incoming mail with > n "To:" recipients?

Related to "Thanks. No." and email filtering, I wonder how hard it would be for Mail.app, etc. to have a rule by which messages with more than n recipients in the "To:" line could be flagged for (depending on your preferences and courage) filtering, auto-archiving, or deletion. Maybe via AppleScript?

I've heard from several friends who filter all non-work email for which they aren't the exclusive "To:" recipient, but it would be handy to have some flexibility in what your own magic number is -- plus of course what you'd then do with emails that exceed your limit would be up to you.

But in an edge case, for example, if I get an email that went to [>=90 TO: recipients] and [<=25%] of the recipients were in my Address Book, the message would be flagged as "possible friend spam." (And, yes, I was once on a "Hey, this is funny" list that went to 96 people multiple times each day. Good times.)

So, any thoughts? Bonus points if it's a rule that's easy for non-geeks to recreate in GUI apps like Mail.app, Entourage, and Outlook, etc. Comments open for brainstorming.

(In related news, as I mentioned on MM.com, I'll soon be opening a thread on the Board to take suggestions on improving Thanks. No., so keep your powder dry on that one.)




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


Subscribe with Google Reader

Subscribe on Netvibes

Add to Technorati Favorites

Subscribe on Pageflakes

Add RSS feed

The Podcast Feed


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. »