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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.


Study: Brits blow 2hrs/day on inefficient tech communication

[Misuse of office technology adds more than two hours to the average British working day]

Couldn't track down the source material from the UK productivity study referenced in this press release, but, if they're accurate, some of the data are interesting to say the least.

The misuse of telephones and email at work is hindering workers from doing their jobs, increasing bad habits at work and lengthening the working day...

Two hours, 10 minutes was the amount that people wasted each day at work on average, of which one hour 38 minutes was due to communication technologies not being used to good effect.

Seems conservative to me, but -- you know -- I'm a terrific karmasuck about these things.

Also intriguing are these bullets on "average times wasted each day:"

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USA Today: Smart CEOs watch how you treat the staff

USATODAY.com - CEOs say how you treat a waiter can predict a lot about character

I was a busboy in junior high and high school and a waiter in college, and I hardily concur that the behavior of a restaurant patron can unintentionally reveal loads about their character.

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TOPICS: Links, Work

ADT & the catch-and-release distraction program

Why can't you pay attention anymore? | CNET News.com

Ever wonder what all those electronic poking sticks might be doing to your attention span?

Psychiatrist Edward Hallowell has identified a late-onset cousin of ADD that he calls "Attention Deficit Trait," a "condition induced by modern life" and the endless "chatter" generated by our beepy devices and interrupt-driven lifestyles.

I don't know enough to evaluate the rigor of this theory in the eyes of a researcher or physician, but this CNET interview with Hallowell is filled with enough right-on quotes to have me nodding along all day.

(read through, after the cut, for our first Mindfulness Exercise)

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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)

More at Odeo.com...

Subscribe to the 43 Folders Podcast on Odeo.com Subscribe to the 43 Folders podcast in iTunes

Inbox Zero: Processing to zero

This post is part of the Inbox Zero series.

The truth is that you probably can take the average email inbox -- even a relatively neglected one -- from full to zero in about 20 minutes. It mostly depends on how much you really want to be done with it. The dirty little secret, of course, is that you don't do it by responding to each of those emails but by ruthlessly processing them. Is that how you thought this worked? Answering 500 emails in 20 minutes? Jeez, it's no wonder you're such a mess. Your cognitive dissonance is epic.

Here's the deal: your email has been accumulating because you don't have the time to answer it properly, which is certainly reasonable and accurate. You also fear losing track of the email you haven't responded to -- that it will fall between the cracks. This fear is also reasonable and accurate. But you're just as keenly aware that with the backlog of email you have plus the increasing rate of incoming messages you receive each day, you can't possibly ever catch up. This, sadly, is also entirely reasonable and accurate. It's all reasonable and it's all accurate, but come on: something's gotta give.

Like Kirk's "solution" to the Kobayashi Maru Scenario, there's an easy but non-obvious way to win at this Catch-22: you cheat. You don't answer them all. Not even most of them.

You rewrite the rules. You adapt at a higher level. You have to, or else the Klingons will overwhelm you with their superior fire power and brute force -- and then your email would remain unanswered for eternity. Think how sad that would be.

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BayCHI podcast and slides available

Tuesday, March 14, 2006: Monthly Program (BayCHI)

Last Tuesday, I joined OSAF's Mimi Yin to talk about GTD at the monthly BayCHI program down at PARC. A podcast of both our presentations plus our slides are now available for download from the program page. Many thanks to Steve Williams for getting it all up so fast.

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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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43F Podcast: The Richard Scarry Book of the Future

MP3: The Richard Scarry Book of the Future

43folders.com – Vocational wheel in the sky keeps on turning. Where do we find the skills we need to succeed today, and why do they call it "Nursing?"

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TOPICS: Podcasts, Work

Recap: Becoming an Email Ninja

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.

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4-1/2 tiny ways to master Mail.app

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.

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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. »