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50+ Personal Productivity Blogs You’ve Never Heard of Before (and about a dozen you probably have)

50+ Personal Productivity Blogs You’ve Never Heard of Before (and about a dozen you probably have)

The personal productivity niche on the Web has grown by leaps and bounds since Lifehack launched only a few years ago. While a few sites dominate the rankings, there are lots and lots of lesser-known sites that are as good or even better than the “A-list” productivity blogs.

Most of them are solo operations — the GTD newbie documenting his or her quest for greater control over their life, the coach or consultant sharing his or her knowledge with the world, the writer adding to his or her published work with notes, errata, and new findings.

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Their voice is personal, intimate even — and deserves to be heard. So here I present a collection of productivity blogs that are less well-known, by writers I think you should get to know better.

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Of course, the big names are here too — after all, I owe some of them a tremendous debt for helping me get a grip on my own life. But they’re not the main show — consider them a kind of lagniappe, a little something extra to remind you of sites you might have forgotten about or to introduce the newcomer to the cornerstones in the field. They’re sprinkled in on equal footing with the rest of the list, shoulder-to-shoulder with the rising stars, the quiet heroes, and the thoughtful mystics of the productivity field.

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Enjoy!

  1. 43 Folders: Merlin Mann started a lot of us on this journey, so now he has to pay. In the meantime, though, he and his crew of happy Folderers keep on providing great tips on productivity and getting things done, especially for Mac users.
  2. All Things Workplace: Tips from Steve Roesler on becoming a more effective leader.
  3. Awake At The Wheel: Great stuff from serial entrepreneur, yoga expert, and writer Jonathan Fields on being happy and successful in all your endeavors.
  4. Change Your Thoughts: Steven Aitchison’s blog on health, finances, relationships, writing, and generally keeping a positive perspective on life.
  5. Conflict Zen: Formerly “I Can’t Say That”, Conflict Zen is all about dealing with and resolving interpersonal conflict. If you know people, you probably need to get a little conflict Zen.
  6. Cranking Widgets: Brett Kelly offers practical GTD-minded advice on life and productivity.
  7. The Daily Saint : I have it on good authority that Mike St. Pierre isn’t a saint at all. But who cares? He offers great tips on being more productive and managing time better, with an emphasis on creating meaning in your life.
  8. Lisa Gates now blogs at the group blog at 360 Alliance. I hadn’t realized she’d let the Design Your Writing Life archives go away.
  9. Diary of a Four-Hour-a-Weeker: Like the title says, this is the journal of an entrepreneur trying to implement the suggestions of Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Workweek.
  10. Did I Get Things Done?: Andrew Mason’s blog focuses around his efforts to implement and live by the principles in David Allen’s Getting Things Done.
  11. D*I*Y Planner: The blog is wacky and often deeply obscure, celebrating a sometimes unholy love between the writers and their pens and paper. But the main attraction is the DIY Planner templates — an incredible assortment of print-them-yourself forms for all your productivity and creativity needs.
  12. Dumb Little Man: DLM’s Jay White ain’t so dumb after all. Jay shares tips on productivity, personal development, and business life.
  13. Escape From Corporate America: Advice on working the corporate world to your advantage — even if that means leaving it — from career change expert Pamela Skillings.
  14. Even Happier: Counselor and former Italian pop sensation Marco shares his insights on living a happier life. [Not updated since February, but archives still online.]
  15. Flipping Heck!: Productivity notes with an emphasis on the workplace. Offers lots of tutorials on using various pieces of software as well as on dealing with common workplace tasks.
  16. Genuine Curiosity: Dwayne Melancon reviews books, software, and other tools that help keep us productive.
  17. Get Rich Slowly: GRS is devoted to personal finance, offering tips and advice on saving money, investing wisely, and getting a grip on your investing.
  18. Getting Things Done: Getting Things Done (the blog) is all about applying the principles of Getting Things Done (the book). Home of the Ultimate GTD Index, which pulls together feeds from GTD sites across the ‘Net.
  19. The Growing Life: Clay Collins takes on everything you thought you knew about productivity with his anti-hacks and the concept of lifestyle design.
  20. GTD Times: Officially sanctioned by David Allen, GTD Times focuses especially on business productivity.
  21. Lifehacker: Lifehacker offers a mix of daily news on the productivity beat as well as an assortment of handy little apps that help you get things done. It’s not Lifehack :-)
  22. The Life Hackery: Lots of clever tips on health and fitness, household organization, Internet apps, and plenty more.
  23. Life Learning Today: Learn about life and live to learn with Life Learning Today. Tips on  personal development and productivity, but also health, money, work , blogging, and more.
  24. Life Lessons of a Military Wife: The title says it all: this site offers life lessons from a military wife, with a focus on personal and home finances and family organization.
  25. Life Optimizer Life Optimizer: Donald Latumahina’s blog about making the most out of the resources you’re given to live with. Great stuff to keep your outlook strong.
  26. LifeReboot: Shaun Boyd’s blog on finding and pursuing your passion in work, learning, relationships, and life as a whole.
  27. Life Sutra: The 4-Hour Workweek Journal: Andrew Brick, a 30-something software professional, offers tips and tricks centered around the ideas in 4HWW.
  28. LifeTweak: Blogger Manu writes on general productivity topics. Distinguished by his amusing hand-drawn illustrations and earnestly helpful content.
  29. LivSimpl: Happiness through simplicity (and the elimination of silent e’s).
  30. A Long Long Road: Lawrence Cheok’s blog on personal growth, careers, and relationships.
  31. Matt’s Idea Blog: Matthew Cornell is a personal productivity consultant who shares his ideas on productivity, motivation, and personal growth.
  32. Newly Corporate: Group blog covering workplace and life “best practices” for young professionals.
  33. One Bag Nation: Ann at One Bag Nation documents the journey of a naturally disorganized person in her quest to gain a little order in her life.
  34. Open Loops: Good, solid GTD-oriented advice from a man with a beard (there’s no About page, is what I’m saying).
  35. Organize IT: Practical-minded advice on productivity, health, finance, personal growth, and GTD.
  36. Nick Pagan: Nick Pagan wants you to understand you better. To that end, he presents productivity and personal development information based on how the mind works. Meaty, deeply researched stuff.
  37. Steve Pavlina’s Personal Development Blog: Are you smart? Then you owe it to yourself to check out Steve Pavlina’s personal development tips for smart people. Steve writes eloquently about entrepreneurship, especially working online, and the tools and attitudes that make it work.
  38. Personal Development Ideas: You want personal development ideas, Personal Development Ideas has personal development ideas. Goal-setting, time-management, and personal growth top the bill here.
  39. Persistence Unlimited: From the man who gave MobilePC users “Achieve-IT!” comes a blog about coming up with and acting on your ideas. By turns inspirational and funny, PU knows how to get stuff done.
  40. John Place Online:John Place helps you maximize your potential for happiness with tips and advice, with a lot of strong material on relationships.
  41. Productivity501: Great blog from Mark Shead on productivity tools and techniques. As the name suggests, Mark is focused not just on getting started but on advanced thinking about productivity.
  42. Put Things Off: Nick Cernis enlists the aid of a fuzzy kitten and his lunchtime banana to transform productivity from a hobby into a way of life. Refreshingly contrarian — and a little silly. Focuses on freelancing, software, entrepreneurship, and general productivity.
  43. Right Attitudes » Ideas for Impact: Nagesh Belludi offers practical advice for developing the right attitudes in life — and transforming attitudes into behaviors that help you be more productive.
  44. Ririan Project: Ririan is a guy on a quest to remake his life, and he shares the process with us.
  45. David Seah: David Seah offers advice and a set of great templates (including “The Printable CEO” series) to empower you to reach new heights.
  46. Alex Shalman : Lifehack.org contributor and medical student Alex Shalman’s site offers thought-provoking essays on relationships, the examined life, and health, along with general productivity and personal development tips.
  47. SimpleProductivityBlog: Lots of great ideas here, including several multi-part series on various aspects of GTD and productivity.
  48. Slow Leadership: Focused largely on business leadership and the evils of “hamburger management”, Carmine Coyote’s ideas about leadership can be adapted to any life.
  49. Slower Living: Slow down! What’s the big rush, anyway? Find peace, happiness, and even greater productivity (in the things that matter to you most) with these tips on living life in the slow lane — or off the road entirely.
  50. SuccessMinders: Jacob Cazell’s tips on developing a success-oriented mindset.
  51. Success Soul: Shilpan Patel offers inspiration and advice drawn from the greatest minds, all with an eye towards what you and I can learn so we can make our own success.
  52. Technotheory.com: Technology and productivity talk from a DC-based efficiency trainer.
  53. Today is that Day: Aaron Potts’ goal is your empowerment, with posts on success, wealth, and happiness.
  54. Uncle Joe’s Leadership Blog: “Uncle” Joe Hungler shares his advice on cultivating and teaching leadership.
  55. What’s the Next Action?: Read What’s the Next Action for advice on project planning and getting things done. [Update: SIte is no longer updating. But great archives are still online.]
  56. Wise Bread: A personal finance site committed to helping readers live within their means with budgeting tips and advice on finding the best deals saving money on life’s necessities.
  57. Work N Play: Good advice from Ritu, especially on making the most out of the web for networking, freelancing, and doing business.
  58. Scott H Young:: University student Scott Young takes on general productivity topics as well as offering studying tips and advice on lifelong learning.
  59. Zen Habits: Leo Babauta writes incredibly well about productivity, health and wellness, and most of all about living the simple life.

Do you know any productivity blogs that the world should know about? Spill your secret in the comments!

[Update: At seb’s request in the comments, I was able to create an OPML file from the list of URLs in this post. I used NewsGator to autodetect the feed locations, which it did for only 62 of the 65 sites above. If you’d like to subscribe to almost all of the sites above in one go using almost any feedreader, save the file at this link and import it into your RSS reader.]

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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