I’ve been asked what I thought of 43 Things. Since I used it for over a year it seemed good sense to write an account of how it helps with working out what needs doing and doing it. Just in case you were wondering why it is called 43 Things… That is because 43 is about the largest number of things that you can work on at once, apparently. And that is pretty much what the site is about! From the outside, 43 Things is quite hard to figure out, but signing up is quick and easy and once you are in, it all starts to fall into place. Answer the “What do you want to do with your life?” question and you should see a list of things come back. You can now adopt one or more of these as one of your ‘things’. There, you are started. Keep going until you have a reasonably complete list, or 43 Things.
How does 43 Things help? It helps in a number of ways, I’ll focus on two of them. Firstly, it helps you to connect with others that are working on similar things. You can add blog-like entries to track your progress, and can see the entries of others working on the same things. This is great for getting occasional tips and sharing with others on the same journey. Very encouraging, although your milage may very. Secondly, you can see what other things like-minded people are working on. This can provide inspiration for new things to go after.
You can also create your own ‘things’. This is a strength and weakness for 43 Things. There are many subtle variations of the same thing and some of the things are not ‘well formed’ – that is they are across a spectrum of aims, goals, tasks and pure randomness. Choose wisely! It is easy to get distracted or overloaded, just because someone else is doing something, doesn’t make it the best thing to be doing. Some of the ‘things’ are actually a life journey, rather than something you can tick off after a few months. That said, I found it helpful for clarifying my real priorities. You can see which things you are actually making progress on, and which are stalled. Be prepared to be challenged.
Once you have completed a ‘thing’, you are offered the opportunity to continue to help others who want to achieve that thing. For example, if you manage to be ‘a famous rock star’, you can help others do the same. A bit of an extreme example perhaps, but you get the general idea. 43 Things keeps a track of the things you have achieved, for you to reflect back on.
The Robot Co-op (the people behind 43 Things) have done a great job of producing a truly social application, it also gives the advertisers a pretty targeted audience! There are a number of sister sites, such as 43places (I was amazed how many places I have been, but how little of the world I have actually seen) and all consuming, which are worth checking out. The downside of 43 Things is that you can end up surfing and reading for hours, with not much output, which isn’t such a good thing. Big style procrastination. That aside, it is a fantastic tool for looking back on what you have done, which can be quite motivating, and a good source of fun. 43 Things is growing in people and functionality all the time. If you want to connect with people from around the world, and get some inspiration for new goals, I’d recommend it as a great starting point.