I would rather keep the tough rules and be okay with breaking them than come me up with crappy rules that I never break. – Merlin Mann on Episode 309 of Back to Work

This was a good bit. Here’s more:

I like the ambition of something that would be difficult for me to do flawlessly, but I adore the feeling that it’s ok for me to fail at it but still keep doing it. I’m the one who gets to decide if I keep doing this or not. I do it on my own terms. I’m the judge who gets to decide how I’m allowed to feel about it.

If you dropped your notebook
in a lake

I got better at using a notebook when I stopped thinking of it as an important artifact of my life.

If you feel any resistance at all about the value of your notebook as an artifact being higher than the value of your stupid, crappy thoughts that go into it, it’s time to re-evaluate.

Merlin Mann on Episode 287 of Back to Work (~42:30)

I’m happy to say that I’ve been through a fancy, expensive notebook phase and made it out the other side.

I used to stockpile notebooks from Muji and Moleskine. Hard-cover, soft-cover; Squard, lined, blank. My obsession with fresh school supplies carried on. But I was scared to put pen to page, afraid that an errant stroke would tarnish an otherwise perfect symbol of organization and productivity. Four pages in and a smear was all it took to start over with a completely new book.

How to win friends and influence people—online

The less time your recipient has to spend figuring out what you need, the more likely they’ll be to respond—and pay attention to your messages in the future.


Instead of demanding changes and hitting send, take the time to explain not only how, but why you think something could be improved.

From a post on the Dropbox Blog (and if you’re requesting changes to design work, don’t worry about the “how” and just start with the “why”). To be good at email requires both short game and long game. And it’s easy to lose sight of the latter when you’re trying to get that one little thing done and off of your plate. But every time you hit “send” on a bad email, you’re losing trust and respect as a communicator.