Executive productivity is a huge challenge and a big business. There are dozens of authors, speakers, podcasters, and bloggers that are ready to tell you how to do more with less, and wrest control of your business from the productivity vampires like email and chat inboxes, calendar management, travel and expenses, and other administrative tasks that sap your efficiency. Most of the productivity pundits teach from their own experience about how they slew the productivity dragon.
Here are five of the most popular and effective productivity blogs to help you take back control of your business and life.
1. Be Minimalist with Zen Habits
Zen Buddhist practitioner Michael Babauta shares his long road to minimalist productivity in his Zen Habits site. His goal was not so much to be more productive for his own sake, but to enjoy his life more, have meaningful work, and live a healthy, positive life. Productivity is a byproduct, and his tips are all about mindful living at home and at work.
“Zen Habits is about finding simplicity and mindfulness in the daily chaos of our lives,” Babauta said. “It is about clearing the clutter so we can focus on what’s important, create something amazing, find happiness. It has over a million readers.
For example, in one article, “How to Make the Most of Your 24 Hours,” Babauta does not offer timesaving hacks like timeboxing or email management. Instead, he helps readers come to terms with the concept of scarcity that drives us to hoard time, which we should see as a gift and not as a commodity or currency. He asks you to start each day focused on what matters most to you, not your to-do list.
Best for: Executives seeking inner fulfillment as well as outer productivity.
2. Learn How to Do Anything at Make Use Of (MOU)
Making Use of (MUO) is as practical as Zen Habits is not. MUO can certainly amp up your productivity, but like Zen Habits it does not offer traditional productivity tips. Instead, MUO’s articles teach you how to do anything that is blocking your productivity with practical how-to articles. We have all been there struggling with a task that we should be able to do on our phones or computers (or TVs and gaming platforms) but just cannot figure it out. MOU is kind of a blog version of YouTube—someone at MUO has authored an article about how to do what is stumping us.
For example, one article is about, “2 Easy Ways to Combine Photos on an iPhone.” Super practical and will save you time if this is a task you need to perform.
MUO topics are helpfully organized by device categories (PC and Mobile and Lifestyle). The topics in each category explain how to use your work devices (PC and Mobile) as well as your entertainment and gaming apps (Lifestyle). All have in common technical tips to walk you through frustrating scenarios. You can also find all kinds of product reviews and tech news.
Best for: When you are struggling with a new tech task at work or at home.
3. Finally All About Productivity: Productivity 501
The blogs we have looked at so far take orthogonal angles to the topic of executive productivity. Detaching with Zen and learning tech tips and tricks will help you save time, but they do not speak directly to common productivity challenges like time management, delegation, and project management. Enter Productivity 501. This site is all tips—refreshing if that is what you are looking for.
Founder Mark Shead said his goal is to help executives “use technology to enable their business ideas. While this usually involves software engineering, some of the biggest challenges come in creating ways of working that will give the best return on investment.”
Topics include “12 Tips for an Organized Desk,” and “How to Make an Insanely Simple Paperless Filing System.” There are some product reviews and tangential posts, but most have to do with how to get more done in less time, i.e., productivity.
Best for: Executives that want to skip the philosophy and get to the tips.
4. When in Doubt, Call the Doctor: Time Doctor
Time Doctor sells time management software to help companies track how employees spend their time. It makes sense that Time Doctor’s blog would be all about productivity—how to make the most of your time—and it is. The Time Doctor blog is thorough and, for a software vendor, surprisingly unbiased. That said, your reading will be interrupted from time to time with popup ads and other promotions.
Executives will like the Time Doctor blog because it does not focus only on individual productivity but also features articles on how executives can help their teams be more productive. Topics include “16 Virtual Meeting Best Practices,” and “How to Measure and Improve Employee Productivity.” The blog also features free templates for time tracking, like a free 2022 employee attendance calendar.
Time Doctor emphasizes that time tracking is not about micromanaging employees' daily work, but about maximizing productivity. You cannot manage what you do not measure, as the saying goes. Measuring time spent can help you coach and improve team performance.
Best for: Executives looking to improve team productivity.
5. Go Big with the 4-Hour Work Week
Does a four-hour workweek seem impossible? Tim Ferris changed the work world in 2007 when he published the 4-Hour Work Week book What is not to like about the title—a four-hour workweek? Woohoo. Ferris’s book describes how he burnt out on a nutritional business and found redemption by outsourcing every administrative task he could think of to an offshore, low-cost virtual assistant. It worked for him, and for millions of others as both Ferris and virtual assistants became extraordinarily popular.
But what Ferris calls his blog is really podcasts. They are great—Ferris interviews successful people from all fields and breaks down their secrets to high performance into routines that everyone can use. Guests include actors (Sarah Silverman), authors (Doris Kearns, Goodwin), athletes (LeBron James), scientists (Dr. Michio Kaku), entrepreneurs (Blake Mycoskie), and investors (John Doerr), giving the show a blue-chip roster. Ferris sprinkles his blog/podcast with a solo show with Q&As and tips from his own experience.
The content is very practical, which is refreshing because celebrities, once they are famous, can talk more about their work than how they get it done. But it is not a blog in that you cannot read the content—you must listen to it. Still, Ferris belongs to any list of productivity masters.
Best for: People that want to learn about productivity from high-performing experts in their fields.
Bonus: Prialto’s Executive Productivity Blog
We do not want to brag, but you can always find the latest news and information on executive productivity on these pages. Our insights are based on more than a decade of experience hiring, training, and managing virtual assistants to supercharge executive productivity. You can also subscribe to our newsletter below.
Finding the Right Blogs on Productivity
Whether you want more peace of mind or just to get sh*t done, there are blogs on productivity for you. It is a good thing since most executives spend some 16 hours per week on day-to-day work that distracts them from strategic initiatives. Scheduling and attending meetings, managing inboxes, planning travel, and filing expense reports add up to a lot of time on tasks that could be delegated, deferred, or deleted.
Productivity technology has created the expectation that executives can and should be self-sufficient and do all their own administrative work. The blogs mentioned here take various approaches to help you avoid the self-sufficiency trap.
Ferris (and Shead, FYI) recommend using virtual assistants to offload this work to give yourself more time to grow your business. Instead of paying yourself an executive salary to schedule meetings, delegate that to someone who can do it at a lower cost. Millions of executives are following suit and virtual assistant businesses are booming. There are multiple businesses and business models for providing virtual executive assistants—from hiring freelancers to a fully managed service.
Prialto provides the world’s largest managed virtual assistant service. To learn more about how virtual assistants can accelerate executive productivity, download this guide.