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.


Five email tics I'd love for you to lose

For the love of God, people; can we get the word out on these? Format courtesy of my other site.

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KGTD keeps getting better

Kinkless (Home)
Kinkless GTD 0.69 [Salt Water] (Download)

KGTD & QuicksilverYesterday afternoon at about 15:00 Pacific standard time, I realized that I officially had way too much going on. Too many scattered low-depth projects, countless "waiting ons," and a situation where seemingly infinite scintillas of work here and there were needed to keep two dozen plates spinning. It almost makes me understand what it's like for you people with jobs. Almost.

I'd already been meaning to have another look at the Omni Outliner-based Kinkless GTD, which -- after my heartfelt infatuation a month ago -- fell off my radar screen in a frenzy of air traffic that sent me into Extreme Tool-Reduction Mode™. Yesterday I realized the time was right and that KGTD would be perfect for this particular blizzard. Well, jeez Louise: I returned to find an already amazing project had actually gotten much better. I mean, damn, man.

The marquee feature for us Quicksilver flying monkeys is the addition of an Applescript for adding to a KGTD inbox from anywhere. I swear by these sorts of scripts (and currently use about 7 of them to generate Category-based Tasks in Entourage). Note that in the image above, you're seeing where I've created a Quicksilver trigger (F8) for the script plus its action via "KGTD Inbox > Process Text..." For what it's worth, this is a bit like putting your steroids on steroids.

The QS stuff alone is worth a look, because it frees you from the agony of the modal change, but I'm also intrigued by a bunch of other little finials in the latest editions:

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Disk maintenance small boost to productivity?

Whenever I run DiskWarrior (starting-up from a CD), do an Applejack repair, or otherwise cause some event that renders my PowerBook temporarily unusable, I often find a few things happen:

  1. I'm initially stressed-out, although I soon move to feeling kind of relaxed -- like someone called a snow day on the morning of the Chemistry final.
  2. I'm drawn to several small (truly neglected) chores related to my immediate physical area -- cleaning off my desk, returning file folders, or taking out the recycling.
  3. Forced to write in either a notebook or at my girlfriend's Mac, I often end up drafting something quickly, easily, and occasionally in a style I don't think I write in.
  4. I don't miss the computer that much after 2 minutes; but I do get itchy after a couple hours.

There's any of a dozen reasons for all these, but I suspect there's commonality.

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Open Thread: The value and quality of email at work

How much time are you spending on email at work? Is it bringing the company and you lots of value?

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10.4.3 update; Getting into “that backup habit”

macosxhints - 10.4: OS X 10.4.3 update released

MacOSXHints covers a few of the 500+ 10.4.3 updates that are worth not missing. Two that popped out for me:

  • If you use Mail, you can now set your own font family and size for the mailbox list. My message list and mailbox list are finally in the same font!
  • Also in Mail, when you forward or reply to a message, they got rid of some of the extra blank lines (though they left the one at the top, above the quoted text)

I'll take all the Mail.app updates I can get. Now will someone please make MailEnhancer work again!

Paranoia, Part I

I have, I must admit, become one of those people who waits a week before running OS X updates. I used to be "that excited guy" until I learned a) new cuts of Safari almost always break one or more of my (and Pimp My Safari's) must-have plugins (Saft, SafariStand, PithHelmet); b) there's nearly always at least one deal-killer booger that sends me into two days of hair-pulling kernel panics, restarts, font removals, DiskWarrior runs etc. (Yes, thanks, I actually have modded almost every aspect of my setup in incredibly haphazard ways.)

As ever, kids: do yourself a favor and run a Safety Backup using SuperDuper. If anything goes kerflooey, you can do a perfect rollback to the snapshot of your disk before updating, then you're back to work with almost zero downtime. Seriously, just get in the SuperDuper habit just in general.

Paranoia, Part II

A propos of nothing, here's my current backup and SuperDuper schedule:

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SBJ: Filtering interruptions to enhance focus

Emerging Technology - Discover Magazine - E-mail Making You Crazy?

Steven Johnson on battling the email and interruption avalanches with smarter technology. He also cites the King's College study suggesting that multitasking makes you less productive than if you'd been doing bong hits.

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Decision-making: Using Quicksilver to run long-term PMIs

I've mentioned before how much I dig the PMI tool for helping to make decisions. In a nutshell, it's a granular way to quantify all the likely good and bad things about a given decision, as well as the implications of making the change.

Typically you'd do a PMI at a sitting within a tabular program like Excel, and that's probably still the easiest and fastest way. But let's say there are things you just want to ruminate on for an indeterminate amount of time--low-impact changes that would still benefit from a large data set. You might try what I've started doing with Quicksilver and the mighty "Append to text file" command.

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43F Podcast: The Myth of Multi-tasking

The Myth of Multi-tasking (mp3)

43Folders.com - "Multi-taskers" are really just splitting their time and attention into smaller slices than you; no one can really do more than one thing at a time. (2:34)

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David Seah: The Printable CEO

David Seah - Better Living Through New Media » The Printable CEO

David Seah has a very clever method for making sure he stays focused on the kinds of activities that bring him and his growing business the highest value. He basically scores himself a weighted grade for how valuable each completed task is to his core goal of growing his business. Ooooo...SAT bubbles!

As stupid as this system may sound, it’s actually working. When I get to fill in a bubble, I feel a little surge of pleasure…I’ve been conditioned by standardized testing, apparently. I also get visual confirmation that I’ve done something to move my business forward. This is an interesting example of feedback in a game design sense; over the course of a week, it’s easy to evaluate your progress at any given time. It’s also easy to pick something to do, based on what you’ve done before. The bubble chart becomes a kind of game board in itself. Instead of feeling guilty for not getting to all your tasks on your ToDo list, feel good that you did make progress. Look upon your worksheet for the proof, and feel the sense of accomplishment in your gut!

He reports back a month later:

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43F Podcast: The 'to have done list'

43 Folders: The 'to have done list' (mp3)

Don't get freaked out by the items on your to-do list; think of your tasks in terms of what they'll mean to you once they're done. (07:36)

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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. »