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.


Using lists to expose "soon" and "long-term" items

Drowning in To-Dos? Get Organized! [Datamation]

Good overview of GTD includes some interesting thoughts on "time-sensitive" to-do-lists:

read more »

43F Podcast: Modest Change: Honor Thy Energy

Modest Change: Honor Thy Energy

43folders.com - Learn the times you're most energetic and productive, and adjust your schedule and your work accordingly. Also: please just let the teenagers sleep, for God's sake.

Download MP3

More at Odeo.com...

read more »

Ethan Kaplan on getting his digital life together

blackrimglasses.com » My So Called Digital Life Pt 1 - The Environment

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 »

Fresh Start: Replace one project

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...?

  • something I feel obligated to do (but have no real interest in ever doing)
  • something that stalled long ago and could easily be removed
  • something that takes massive amounts of fuss for consistently annoying results
  • something I haven't seriously thought through yet
  • something potentially interesting that's very poorly defined right now
  • something I can't really do anything about for a while
  • something that's been on my lists so long that I just keep it out of sentimentality
  • something I could, quite frankly, just not care any less about

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 »

Fresh Start: The Email DMZ

Like a lot of the best fresh starts, this one's a total psych-out; also, like most of the best ones, you won't believe how well it works until you actually try it for yourself.

  1. Open your email program and create a new folder called "DMZ"
  2. Go to your email inbox and Select All
    • You might alternatively choose all email older than n days
  3. Drag those emails from your inbox into the DMZ folder
  4. Go, and sin no more.
read more »

Open Thread: Whither Blackberry? What's your fallback plan?

BlackBerry shutdown closer after ruling - U.S. Business - MSNBC.com

RICHMOND, Va. - A federal judge has rejected an effort by BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. to settle a patent case and moved a step closer to reissuing an injunction that threatens the device’s e-mail service in the United States.

RIM said in a statement that it has been preparing technology that would keep its service running in the U.S., where most of its 3.65 million BlackBerry customers are based.

[ via Slashdot ]

Damn, this could be pretty big stuff, eh?

I'm guessing at least a few of you out there are rabid Blackberry users -- I've never even used one myself, but I have friends who live on theirs. So, I'm curious: How do you feel about the possibility of losing Blackberry service? If it went away today, what would you use instead? Do you have a fallback plan?

Emailing a text-based meeting scheduler

ButtUgly: Main_blogentry_231105_1 [The Iteration List]

A very clever and satisfyingly lo-fi way to find the best date for an event based on several people's schedules. By passing around emails with an ASCII, monotype text representation of the possible dates and times, each person uses a symbol to indicate their preference and availability. Very clever stuff.

       0                 1                   2                   3
       1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
       t f S S m t w t f S S m t w t f S S m t w t f S S m t w t f 
Janne  + + - - + + + + + ? ? + + + + - - - ? ? - - - - - - - - - + 
Ville  + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + -
Kalle  - - - - + + + + e e e - - - + - - - - - - - - - - - - - - +
Sanna  - - e e - - - + ? ? ? + + + + + - - + + - - - - - - + + + +
                     * *           *

From this table, it’s easy to see what would be suitable dates for everyone (marked with “*”). The initiator of the sequence suggets Thursday 8th, and everyone agrees. And while they were at it, they agreed on holding the 15th as “tentative”, so that they get to continue the game if it’s not finished in time. One of the advantages of this calendar is of course that you can immediately see who might not make it - and while everyone is equal, missing someone might not be.

[ Thanks, Brian ]

Bob Parsons' hardass time management

"Not so polite" time saving tips — that work.

Bob Parsons may not win any awards for congeniality, but I like the way he lays down the law on managing your time -- with a focus on not being a victim of your own phone. This is tough, in-your-face talk, but frankly I think it's time we get tougher with the people who demand our time.

In my own opinion, you'll never get out from under until you learn to seize back control of your phone and your email inbox; that's the the two places where the world will never stop hollering for your attention; it's up to you to say "no," and hit delete. After all, if you don't respect how you parcel out your time and attention, why should you expect anyone else to?

A few of Bob's observations:

read more »

Ev Williams: Achieving balance with GTD

evhead: Ten Rules for Web Startups

Ev's ten rules for a startup are all strong, but #10 particularly caught my eye:

#10: Be Balanced
What is a startup without bleary-eyed, junk-food-fueled, balls-to-the-wall days and sleepless, caffeine-fueled, relationship-stressing nights? Answer?: A lot more enjoyable place to work. Yes, high levels of commitment are crucial. And yes, crunch times come and sometimes require an inordinate, painful, apologies-to-the-SO amounts of work. But it can't be all the time. Nature requires balance for health -- as do the bodies and minds who work for you and, without which, your company will be worthless. There is no better way to maintain balance and lower your stress that I've found than David Allen's GTD process. Learn it. Live it. Make it a part of your company, and you'll have a secret weapon.

Right on.

Slightly off-topic, but on my mind...as I commented earlier today, I'm finding myself increasingly uncomfortable framing techniques like GTD strictly in terms of "productivity" (although the ability to be more efficient and productive is definitely a nice perk).

GTD fights stress not by transforming you into a drone or a brainless corporate cog, but by affording a framework for recovering and maintaining smart focus. What you do with that focus is entirely your affair -- clearly people will use it for everything from building a very swell startup to managing their music career and beyond. Gratefully, nowhere does The David say you have to turn into an enormous-toothed White Guy running sales seminars at the La Quinta Inn. In any case, when we're doing GTD right, Ev is right on the money: balance is sewn into every stitch of your week.

Even two years into using GTD, I have to say I'm still pleased -- and sometimes even surprised -- at how well it still works for me. Whenever I fall off the horse, I'm usually just a mini-review away from feeling retuned to my priorities and commitments. I agree with Ev; it's powerful stuff.

I do wonder if there's a better term for GTD's goals and methods than simply "productivity" or even "time management" What do you think? Does it matter?




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. »