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.


NYT Magazine: "Meet the Life Hackers"

Meet the Life Hackers - New York Times

_New York Times_ Select subscribers (coughFreeTrialcough) can login to preview an article by Clive Thompson that runs in the Sunday Magazine. It's called "Meet the Life Hackers" and it's a terrific overview of how people, companies, and products are responding to information overload and our (sometimes self-imposed) culture of interruption.

Danny and I pop up, as well as heroes like Mary Czerwinski and the late Bluma Zeigarnik. Clive did a hell of a job with a big and complicated topic, and I'd encourage you to check out the full article when it becomes available for free (Saturday night?). It's really good--I'd never heard, for example, about the research on interrupting telegraph operators. Awesome.

Update 2005-10-15 19:04:08

Now available online for free: Meet the Life Hackers - New York Times

Extended excerpts on Danny and the Genesis of the life-hacking movement:

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MailTemplate is back!


This is terrific news. One of my must-have Mac tools has been MailTemplate which gives you a huge amount of flexibility in creating template/boilerplate responses to frequent email messages. Frankly, I use about 30 or so templates that cover 80% of my repeat mail issues, and I simply couldn't get through the day without it.

Unfortunately MailTemplate languished a bit while its talented developer wrangled some legal stuff. Well, now it's been acquired, it's back, and you should shoot straight over and download yourself a copy. Available for both Mail.app and Entourage. $14.95. Licenses start selling on 10/14.

Procrastination hack: '(10+2)*5'

Following on the idea of the procrastination dash and Jeff’s progressive dash, I’ve been experimenting with a squirelly new system to pound through my procrastinated to-do list. Brace yourself, because it is a bit more byzantine than is Merlin 2005’s newly stripped-down habit. It’s called (10+2)*5, and today it will save your ass.

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Marc Eisenstadt: Paying the price of email overload

Eight years of email stats, pass 1

A thought-provoking analysis on the time and attention that a growing pile of email commands. Based on looking at several years worth of archived messages. The hockey-stick spam trends ends up seeming less significant than the raw volume of extra non-email work that email generates.

Marc Eisenstadt says:

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Guardian UK: Ben Hammersley on GTD and The David himself

Guardian Unlimited Technology | Technology | Meet the man who can bring order to your universe

43F confidant Ben Hammersley does a great piece on David Allen and GTD for the Guardian UK. Terrific summary of why GTD works as well as some nice insight into David’s background (DA & I share an obscure alma mater, you know).

Ben writes:

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Throw yourself upon the gears...of your assy company

A spectre is haunting your office...the spectre of passionate users.

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TOPICS: Lofi, Work

Writing sensible email messages

Writing sensible email messages

As we've seen before, getting your inbound email under control will give you a huge productivity boost, but what about all the emails you send? If you want to be a good email citizen and ensure the kind of results you're looking for, you'll need to craft messages that are concise and easy to deal with.

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Michael Hyatt: Great trick for tracking delegated emails

Tracking delegated emails + invoking Lazy Web for an Entourage Applescript

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Building a Smarter To-Do List, Part I

Since new folks visit 43F each day, I thought it might be valuable to return to one of our most popular evergreen topics to review some "best practices" for keeping a good to-do list. While a lot of this might be old hat to some of you, it's a good chance to review the habits and patterns behind one of the most powerful tools in the shed. Part 2 appears tomorrow (Update: now available). (N.B.: links to previous posts related to these topics are provided inline)

Why bother?

In my own experience wrangling life's entropic challenges, some of my best gains have come from maintaining a smart, actionable, and updated accounting of all the things I've committed myself to doing. While the quality of that list may vary from day to day, it's the best place to train my focus whenever things are starting to feel out of control. In fact, the health of my to-do list usually mirrors the health of my productivity (as well as the barometric pressure of my stress). On the good days, my to-do list has a living quality that helps guide my decisions and steers me through unexpected changes in priority or velocity. And on the crummy days, it becomes the likely suspect when I need to quickly reassess the state of the union and make changes.

While you can argue for the flavor and approach to task management that best suits your style (and your personal suck), it's hard to disparage the benefits that come from getting task commitments out of your brain and into a consistent location. One list scribbled on one busy day is not necessarily the answer (although it can be a lifesaver). Try thinking of your to-do list as an evolving plan for responsibly focusing your effort and attention in the near future.

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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. »