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Remember self-help tapes? You used to throw them into your car or Walkman when you were going on a lengthy trip so that you could “grow on the go” and hope to return home all the better for it. Or you’d put them on rather than read at night so you could improve various aspects of your life.

Well, podcasts that discuss various aspects of productivity very well could be the evolution of those self-help tapes. To a point.

To be more accurate, they can also serve as a successor to radio programs that discussed these topics. They can also be a source of news in the world of productivity and work philosophy. Actually, podcasts have a wide variety of applications for today’s audience.

So with this year soon coming to a close, I thought I’d be a little proactive and get you listening to the best productivity podcasts of 2011 — before you really have to start thinking about how you’re going to make next year even better than this one.

Back to Work

Hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin on the 5by5 network, Back to Work brought Mann back into the podcasting spotlight. At its core, it focuses on Mann’s new message of doing work (as opposed to just looking at ways to do the work) and it is both informative and entertaining. I’d expect nothing less from these two gentlemen, and they deliver wekk in and week out.

Enough: The Minimal Mac Podcast

While this 70Decibels program (featuring Patrick Rhone and Myke Hurley) may look on the surface that it is all about the Mac, that isn’t always the case. Yes, Rhone and Hurley do love their Apple gear (as do I), but episodes of Enough have often gone beyond that scope. Occasionally they welcome guests on the show, with trusted Internet folk like Brett Kelly, Shawn Blanc and Dave Caolo stepping into the mix. All of this adds up to a fresh and inviting look at productivity, minimalism and organization on a regular basis. And they’re shorter than most podcasts, too. A bonus for those who want to get their podcast fix in and go.

Get-It-Done Guy’s Quick and Dirty Tips to Work Less and Do More

Another short weekly podcast, Stever Robbins offers short tidbits of valuable info that you can easily apply to your everyday lives. This podcast makes what is often a dry topic more lively and accessible than most websites or podcasts do. If you want to start your day with a great tip to get you moving forward, this one is certainly worth subscribing to.

The David Allen Company Podcast

The official GTD podcast. This regularly updated podcast features David Allen speaking on topics of interest to those following the world of productivity – or for those who just want to get better at getting things done. The David Allen Company Podcast offers a varied approach to the podcasting realm, delivering interviews and seminar-styled presentations as part of the menu. Worth checking out – especially if you need to brush up on your GTD best practices.

ZENandTECH

One of the newest entries in the podcasting landscape, ZENandTECH is a real treat to listen to. Again, episodes aren’t terribly long, and the two hosts (Georgia and Rene Ritchie) have a great chemistry. This isn’t a traditional productivity-type podcast; it falls more in line with what Enough is doing, but with a balanced approach to technology and mindfulness.

There are many other productivity-style podcasts out there on the web to listen to, but the aforementioned ones offer the most informing, educating and entertaining programming that I’ve heard on a consistent basis.

Do you have a podcast that you listen to that helps you be more productive? Let us know about it in the comments.

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