Creativity and Productivity at 43 Folders

43 Folders header image

Something interesting is happening over at Merlin Mann’s blog 43 Folders. As many of you will know, the name 43 Folders comes from David Allen’s Getting Things Done productivity system, and Merlin’s blog has a well earned reputation as one of the thought leaders in the productivity sector. But Merlin recently took a break from blogging, and returned to announce a bold change of direction for his site:

R.I.P., Productivity Pr0n
Friends, I’m done with “productivity” as a personal fetish or hobby. There are countless sites that are all too happy to vend stroke material for your joyless addiction to puns about procrastination and systems for generating more taxonomically satisfying meta-work. But, presently, you won’t find so much of that here.

I guess Merlin can expect an angry e-mail from Lou.

But I hear Jack has subscribed and is eagerly looking forward to the next chapter of 43 folders. Here’s why, from the new About page:

43 Folders is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

You can probably imagine this is music to the ears of the Lateral Action team, as it backs up what we’ve been saying about avoiding foolish productivity and focusing on getting creative things done.

With Behance‘s tools for promoting ‘productive creativity’ and LifeDev‘s writings about creativity and workflow, it looks as though ‘creativity and productivity’ is becoming something of a movement.

What other blogs have you noticed that combine creativity and productivity?

Any must-reads you’d recommend?

How to get creative work done in an "always on" world

Productivity for Creative People

Mark McGuinness' latest book Productivity for Creative People is a is a collection of insights, tips, and techniques to help you carve out time for your most important work – amid the demands and distractions of 21st century life.

“Of all the writers I know, I have learned the most about how to be a productive creative person from Mark. His tips are always realistic, accessible, and sticky. It’s not just talk, this is productivity advice that will change your life.”

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More about Productivity for Creative People. >>

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  1. As a professional wedding photographer, I look to Anne Ruthmann’s terrific blog, Photolovecat for both productivity, sustainability and creativity. Amazing writing and extremely useful and timely. Here is Photolovecat -

  2. This might a nice list for those looking around…

    Although I’ll be keeping most of my focus on Jack & Lateral Action….

  3. Hi folks, my own blog is all about getting creative with your productivity workflow, in order to find the right practice that works for you in order to create balance. It is more about getting things done so that you can live your life, rather than just so that you can get even more things done.
    We have a productivity conference call on Thursdays, too, if anyone is interested in getting involved in that. They can be a lot of fun, not just a lecture!

  4. I like to humbly reccomend my site that focuses slightly more on the creativity bit rather than the productivity. But I can see how both are linked as I am a fan of your site.

    Creativity is the future and what better way to share it via design. Do visit


  5. I’m very keen to see what Merlin’s going to do next. He’s been doing a mini-feature on the CBC Radio series Spark where he talks about blogging and it’s great for beginners with a few twists for intermediate folks.

    The only thing I worry about regarding creativity and productivity is illustrated by a little snippet from one of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy novels. The Vogons, the repulsive reptilian skinned bureaucratic tough guys used to have a great system for working out aggression by forcing themselves to punch a bag of potatoes for half an hour each day. They were actually tolerable by using this method of releasing their anger.

    This worked great until some productivity expert showed up and told them that it would be far more efficient to shoot the bag of potatoes instead. So they did. Efficient and possibly productive? Yes. Effective? Not one iota. Vogons continued to be nasty, as we all know.

  6. I hope this marks the end of the GTD era we’ve all lived through. I know productivity is important, but at what cost? I need a to-do list just to remember all of the different apps I use to keep to-do lists. It’s a bit overdone I think 🙂

    For creativity, I read Lateral Action 🙂

  7. Merlin is a wonderful example of being willing to stick to his principles and admit his mistakes.

    On my own blog/podcast, I’m similarly moving away from productivity and even personal development in favor of deeper personal transformation tools and practices.

    As far as great productivity/creativity blogs, I recommend Charlie Gilkey’s and Andre Kibbe’s , both excellent and intelligent authors.

    I personally think that Lateral Action is best-in-class in this genre as well.


  8. “Productivity, creativity, sustainability” is actually the tag line of my website. The emphasis is probably more on creativity and sustainability these days, with practical how-to articles, when I get around to writing about the stuff I do and make. In the background I am still tweaking my productivity system, but I discovered that there is a fine line between working for the system, and making the system work for you.

  9. I’ve never read Getting Things Done (I definitely will) so didn’t know that’s where Merlin got the name from.

    I’ve also never been too interested in the productivity side of things so it’s nice to see a change of direction on the site and it now might fit into my feed reader.

    Sorry, no top blogs off the top of my head, but this one is starting to become one of my favourites!


  10. Merlin Mann is a little “manchildish” and snarky, but his latest posts at 43Folders have been awesome.

  11. I think this is a fantastic direction, which is why I’ve re-focused my blog on creativity (esp. writing) + actually doing your creative projects (I’m trying to avoid sounding like an icky self-promoter!).

    I prefer to think about “being purposeful with my time” rather than being “productive” — productivity has so many connotations of getting *more* done, and feeling like you *should* be doing something.

  12. My favourite productivity/creativity blog has to be Putting Things Off:
    Nick Cernis’ writing style is just phenomenal and his ideas are creative, innovative and inspiring. Definitely one to add to your feedreader!

  13. Thanks for the recommendations everyone.

    Mark — great list! Thanks for including Lateral Action and Wishful Thinking.

    Amy — I agree Put Things Off is a standout.