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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 October 21, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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