Sunday, April 27, 2008

Merlin Mann and the 43 Folders

I can't believe that I'm writing more on Merlin. I am fascinated with his site 43 Folders. I am growing to really love this guy's nerdy, offbeat and tenacious approach to getting organized. I've posted before about finding the ideas that David Allen outlines in his book Getting Things Done very useful. But there is a formality about it that seems to be aimed at business folks that just isn't nearly as fun as Merlin Mann's quirky take on productivity.

What's to Love
  • He talks about all the struggles and foibles of chasing after the latest "hacks" (shortcuts or approaches). He is a quirky guy who uses catchy slang and has a predilection for wearing gas station coats and hip glasses.
  • Merlin has a young daughter, which makes his quest for a reasonably organized life all the more realistic for all of us who are parents.
  • His goal is not productivity for productivity's sake or aimed at the common theme in the productivity literature on getting wealthy or becoming powerful. He does talk about how to make more money more easily and how to become more influential, but it is not because money is the priority. Any focus on money is in service of living a full, meaningful, enjoyable life where you can focus on the things that matter most to you.
  • It is productivity in service of living a meaningful, enjoyable life.
  • Humor is sprinkled liberally throughout the site. For some, this could be a downside if your sense of humor is not a match with his. But I think for most folks, it makes his site approachable. You learn about how to be more productive, but it feels like you're playing when you're learning about it.
  • There are tons of very practical recommendations on everything from filing accouterments to the best pens to easy to use software that fits in with his approach. We even bought a little flip video camera based on his recommendation.
  • There are multiple ways to enjoy the content. Throughout the site you can find links to other useful sites, to books that look at things more in depth, to The Merlin Show, where Merlin interviews different folks about their approaches to creativity and productivity. There are also videos of full blown presentation. Some of those I wish showed a little more of him, and a bit less of his presentation slides, but they are still good.
  • He has All Time Most Popular Posts and Classics links right at the top of the home page, so that new visitors can immediately dive in to the most powerful concepts (or the funniest stuff).
What's Not to Love

About my only gripe really isn't much of a gripe. I just wish there were even more content being added since I'm getting so much out of it. This seems a bit like criticizing a delicious meal because it makes you want to eat more.

PS I hate the way this Blogger software messes up the spacing after you make a bulleted or numbered list. Not sure if this is a Mac only problem. I am on Fire Fox. Anyone else run into this problem? I'll have to check on our PC to see if it looks the same there. Anyway, I am hoping that this is one of the things that gets taken care of with my site refresh, getting a blog hosted on my own domain. Don't worry I'll make sure there are links from the current site so you can keep in touch.