Why Merlin Mann Is The Man!

Those who follow along with Quick Quotes Weekly or with my daily quotes blog, Smarter Than I Am, may have noticed a bit of a trend last week… an acute obsession with Merlin Mann. For those who don’t know him1, Merlin is considered a bit of a productivity guru2. Much like myself, Merlin is an admitted ADHD’er3 who offers tools & tips for getting your crap together and getting things done4. Be warned, Merlin is a touch unusual, he moves fast and quickly jumps from topic to topic5, but if you can get on his wavelength for even a few minutes, you can learn a lot!

So who the heck is Merlin Mann anyway?

A quick search of Merlin Mann will lead you to a metric ton of resources, so let me help you get started with some of the more useful I’ve found for those just starting out on the road to better productivity.

  • Inbox Zero – This seminal talk to the team at Google is still one of the most influential videos that I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. In fact, my follow up to this post will be an explanation of how I’ve leveraged this talk to help me get over my overwhelming challenges with email.

  • Mac Power Users – This two-part four-hour talk6 with Merlin will help the geekier amongst you to radically change the way you use a Mac. Merlin walks you through his workflow which uses amazing tools like Mail Plane, Notational Velocity, LaunchBar, Scrivener, Omnifocus7 as well as iPad and iPhone apps like Simplenote, Nebulous Notes, iThoughts HD and Goodreader to help you keep on track and on focus.

  • Back To Work Podcast – Lately, Merlin has been taking a step back from the tactical productivity into the more esoteric space of personal development. Along with Dan Benjamin, Merlin uses this weekly talk show to share his own experiences and insights on how we can get out of our own way.

So what’s with the whole obsession?

I’ve always been a big Merlin fan, but recent marathon of the two and a half hour episode of Mac Power coupled with ten back-to-back episodes of Back To Work has quickly turned my appreciation into utter admiration8. If, like me, you find that you are often the biggest obstacle in your way, you may want to give Merlin a shot. More often than not, when suggesting that someone give him a shot, I would suggest that they watch Inbox Zero. It serves as a great tactical introduction to his work, but nowadays, for those looking for a swift kick in the ass, Back To Work: Episode One is well worth the listen.

As with anything, your mileage may vary with his advice9, but those who are having a tough time organizing their time and their attention often get a lot out of his unusual manner and useful tactics.


  1. Which in the case of my inner circle is likely everyone. 

  2. Although, he tends to cringe at the term. 

  3. I know, the few of you who didn’t know that about me are SHOCKED

  4. Thankfully he is not a die hard GTD‘er. 

  5. Some on topic and some WAY off topic. 

  6. You can download and listen to Part 1 and Part 2 here or simply subscribe to Mac Power Users on the iTunes store

  7. Although I use the simpler alternative, Things, in place of the Omni suite. 

  8. You can find several of my favorites here

  9. Especially if organization or motivation have never been a real challenge for you. 

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