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.

Personal Productivity

Colleen Wainwright on email as PSD

Treat your email more like Photoshop

My pal, Colleen, has written up a short, designer's take on handling email. She suggests you treat messages the way you'd handle Photoshop PSDs; streamline, automate, and fear not the rule nor template:

Once you’ve done enough of the same kind of work in Photoshop or Illustrator—say, resizing photos or creating a certain size of flyer—you devise ways of creating your templates quickly...

Apply the same principles to processing your inbox and you will vastly reduce the time you spend horsing around in your email client. There are as many “best practices” with email as there are organizational gurus, but the same principles generally apply:

  1. Handle things once
  2. Process all at once, at scheduled times
  3. Clear your inbox, don’t use it as a holding bin

Right on. And as good a point as ever to re-point-out my beloved MailTemplate, which is still the easiest way I know of to create customizable boilerplate templates for Mail.app and Entourage.

Random Bonus: Here's some video (direct MOV download) of me interviewing the MailTemplate/MailTank guys at Macworld back in January.

MacBreak Minute: LiteSwitch X

In the latest episode of MacBreak Minutes (subscribe), I talked about a favorite PreferencePane of mine called LiteSwitch.

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David Shipley on getting better with (rather than dumping) email

Opting Out: New Jersey Governor Rejects E-mail

David Shipley, author of Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home, did an ATC commentary on NJ Gov. Jon Corzine's saying he's swearing off email. Shipley thinks it's a teachable moment that shouldn't be missed:

How about: writing better.

How about: a little more thought about what we are saying on email before hitting that send key?

How about trying all this...instead of giving up...?

Instead of quitting, why doesn't Governor Corzine turn this into a moment to teach us how to email better. Should New Jersey schools teach email the way they once taught typing and composition?

By the way, how we doing on that Richard Scarry Book of the Future?

Guy Kawasaki & the art of the 5-sentence email

Ten Things to Learn This School Year

I'm intrigued by this bit of advice from Guy Kawasaki on the stuff you don't learn in school (but should):

How to write a five-sentence email...Whether UR young or old, the point is that the optimal length of an email message is five sentences. All you should do is explain who you are, what you want, why you should get it, and when you need it by.

While exaggerated for effect, this strikes me as sound advice. And, in the context of a discussion about education, I'm reminded of the "hamburger essays" we used to have to write in school. Yeah, sure, there aren't many times in life where you have to sit down and write an actual 5-paragraph essay, but they sure did encourage you to think about structure, rhetoric, and arc. As ever, that bit of constraint gives you the focus needed to improve the quality of your presentation.

Man, in retrospect, I've sent a lot of emails that could and should have been whittled down to five sentences (if that). Emailarrhea.

On MBW 48: Pick of the Week is Fly Gesture

MacBreak Weekly 48: The Next Big Thing

Hosts: Leo Laporte, Merlin Mann, Andy Ihnatko, The Macalope

Variable pricing comes to iTunes, iPhone hacks, and where's the Mac?

Here's a direct MP3 download of MBW 48.

My pick for this week's MacBreak Weekly is Fly Gesture, which is a nifty little freeware app from Flying Meat's boy genius, Gus Mueller. Like it says on FG's home page:

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Announcing the 43 Folders Job Board

I've recently added a 43 Folders job board, and I wanted our first post about it to feature family, so I asked some friends to post open positions in their organizations.

We also carry jobs posted from selected other sites, so there's already plenty to browse. Want to be an iPhone Engineer at Apple? How about working for The Motley Fool? Maybe just make a quick $1,000.00 on a referral? Well, dig in.

And for the folks out there who need to put butts in Aerons, it's fast and easy to add your own organization's jobs to the board. Plus your job may be featured in posts here on the site highlighting the more interesting-looking positions that have been added. (Hint: Check the footer of posts in the 43f RSS feed for news about a substantial launch week discount -- ends 7/20, so act soonly)

Thanks for the interest everyone has expressed in us adding a job board -- whether you're looking or hiring, I hope you'll find it useful and vocationally satisfying.

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Neatorama on sustainable email fu

Rule the Web (and Rule Your Email Inbox!)

Alex from the always-swell Neatorama has written up the bullets on his preferred method for keeping an email inbox at zero.

4. Have a Simple Filing System
Don’t overthink this: a complex folder with subfolder system is not what you need to remain organized. Obviously, your particular needs will dictate how many folders you have … but in my experience, you rarely, if ever, need subfolders.

5. Have a Follow Up Folder There will be times that I need to research an answer to a particular email or do something before I can reply. I let these emails sit in my inbox for a maximum of 1 day (gasp!), then they get put into a Follow Up Folder if I haven’t gotten around to them - and then I add an entry in my to-do list.

Good tips, and my only (seemingly omnipresent) comment is to underscore that need to empty all your baskets regularly. Hence, one benefit of keeping your email storage and action structure light is that you won't have to dash around to multiple places to see what's on your plate.

Still awesome, still works: Request library books from Amazon pages

Jon Udell: The LibraryLookup Bookmarklet Generator

I covered this one back in the bronze age of 43 Folders, but I wanted to highlight the awesomeness again today for those who might not have seen it the first time around.

As described in September, 2004:

I still can’t get over how cool this is. Jon Udell’s little wizard [direct link] lets you generate a bookmarklet for requesting a library book—based on the Amazon page you’re currently viewing. It’s clearly a flawless lifehack.

You just need to know your library’s URL and which system your own city uses (which Jon makes simple by providing preview links to see which style your system seems to follow). San Francisco folks, use “http://sflib1.sfpl.org/” and leave the default system of “Innovative” selected.

At some point over the years, Jon's bookmarklet fell out of my favorites bar (J'accuse, Amazon Prime). But today I was able to recreate my bookmarklet in about ten seconds, and now Bobos in Paradise is en route to the Parkside Library.

To modernize the tip just a bit, I'll mention that this (and many other browser tasks involving entering passwords) gets so much easier with the amazing 1Passwd. In this case, you can tell the app to remember your library card number and PIN and autofill the library login page automagically.

MacBreak Weekly 47: Merlin's picks

MacBreak Weekly 47: That's Our Shooby!

Hosts: Leo Laporte, Merlin Mann, Scott Bourne, and Alex Lindsay

Universal challenges iTunes, iPhone hacks, and our software picks of the week...

Here's a direct MP3 download of MBW 47.

This time we did our usual weekly software picks, but I also got to choose our Audible.com audiobook of the week. Can you guess what it is?

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Vox Pop: Converting clutter from trash to treasure

Quick way to dispose of lots of stuff? | Ask MetaFilter

Wow, talk about good timing.

I've noticed in comments on this week's clutter posts that there's a lot of interest from you all in the away part of "throw away" -- people seem to have a lot of ideas on the most interesting, charitable, creative, and environmentally-responsible routes for converting your own trash into someone else's treasure.

So far we (and that AskMe thread) have covered:

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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. »