Getting into flow can be especially difficult when you’re a creative entrepreneur.
If you’re looking for practical, insightful productivity guides for creatives, you’ve come to the right place. Here are the 30 best productivity blogs for creative entrepreneurs online.
As you know, there’s no shortage of productivity gurus dispensing advice.
But we decided to dig deep and only deliver la crème de la crème.
Whether you’re overwhelmed by the big picture and don’t know where to start or struggling to make the time day-by-day, these productivity and creativity blogs will give you the techniques, frameworks, and exercises to work on the projects that mean the most to you.
The Winning Creativity Blogs
Productivityist (Mike Vardy)
“Productivity is all about crafting your time.” That’s Mike Vardy’s philosophy at Productivityist—you can actually be productive and become the master of how you spend your time and attention. Our favorite post is how to plan your year in one hour—and you don’t even have to wait until January to get started!
Zen Habits (Leo Babauta)
Leo Babauta created Zen Habits to help people find simplicity and clear the clutter so they can focus on what’s truly important. Leo’s minimalist thinking helps us step back from the chaos of daily life and center on making and creating things. Our favorite post is about the #1 habit of highly creative people.
Barking Up the Wrong Tree (Eric Barker)
The blog of the guy who wrote the runaway bestseller Barking Up the Wrong Tree [get affiliate link], Eric Barker fills his blog with science-backed, actionable strategies for being more productive, overcoming perfectionism, and achieving your own definition of “success.” Check out this post about overcoming perfectionism, which we definitely referenced as we put the finishing touching on this post. 😉
We’ve been reading James Clear since he started writing and he never ceases to amaze us with his Gladwellian ability to translate concepts and theories into easily digestible metaphors. James Clear writes about a cornucopia of topics (habits, performance, creativity, and health), but our favorite post is one that holds us when we’re in a rut: the proven path to doing unique and meaningful work.
Farnam Street (Shane Parrish)
Learning a new way of thinking is hard. Fortunately, Share Parrish, who runs the Farnam Street blog, makes it much more manageable. He breaks down different mental models that help you do everything from overcome writer’s block to becoming more creative. We especially love his directory of mental models which probably contains more information than we learned in college.
Founder of the Good Life Project, author of several books, and a regular speaker, Jonathan Fields has been writing on creativity, art, and making things for over a decade. We love how he strips away the fluff and simply speaks his truth. We recommend starting with this short post about getting “unbusy” or this post about productivity for creatives.
Becoming Minimalist (Joshua Becker)
Becoming Minimalist founder Joshua Becker inspires others to pursue their greatest passion by owning fewer possessions. (Fortunately for everyone, that doesn’t translate to “fewer ideas” or “fewer readers”—he has over a million.) Get started with one of his books or dive straight into the blog. We like this short read about the shift between “decluttering” and “de-owning.”
Cal Newport didn’t set out to become an internet entrepreneur. A professor of computer science at Georgetown University, Cal Newport started by writing the Study Hacks blog, aimed at helping [high school] students improve their performance in class. Much of his writing—including his books, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Deep Work, and Digital Minimalism—applies to creatives. We love his writing on habit and being intentional with how you manage your time, especially this post about planning out your workday.
Productive Flourishing (Charlie Gilkey)
Productive Flourishing is a community for creative giants to stop dreaming and start doing and accomplishing. In addition to a podcast hosted by co-founders Charlie Gilkey and Angela Wheeler, Productive Flourishing plays host to a plethora of free planners and, of course, a first-rate blog. We enjoyed this post about binge writing. TK POST ON BEING A CREATIVE GIANT!!!!
Dave Seah calls himself an “investigative designer” and we’d be lying if we said we didn’t wish we’d thought of that when wondering what to do when we grew up. Dave rights about personal development for nerdy creatives (*raises hand*) and paper-based productivity tools. If you like to get in there with planners and old-school spreadsheets, you’ll enjoy this post about the emergent task planner.
Exile Lifestyle (Colin Wright)
Colin Wright is a creative entrepreneur. He’s an author, speaker, podcaster, and runs an indie publishing company called Asymmetrical Press. On his website, Exile Lifestyle, he publishes short essays—food for thought—about twice a month, and we appreciate the world-class insight his remarkable perspective brings to our discussions of creativity. We love this short piece about the joy of creating things and learning what causes you to create.
Darius Foroux writes about productivity, habits, decision making, and personal finance. He’s trying to answer a question: how can we live a useful life that matters? His writing is down-to-earth and he illustrates every post with his own original, sometimes hand-drawn graphics. This post that cautions against replacing goals with systems is an excellent introduction to his style (and it’s a smart reminder, too).
Todd Henry’s corpus of work errs to the side of corporate, but we think his style and unique perspective is a splash of refreshment instead of a jarring side dish. Todd publishes 3—count ’em, 3—podcasts, 2 of which are focused on creatives. We particularly enjoyed this post/episode about why many creative types struggle with discipline.
Lateral Action (Mark McGuinness)
Mark McGuinness is a poet and creative coach—the coolest job ever—and he wants you to combine creativity and productivity to succeed in what he calls the “creative economy.” In addition to blogging, he also runs a podcast called The 21st Century Creative. We think his post on making “creative assets” should be required reading for anyone who wants their artistic or creative work to support them.
We’ve never met anyone who said, “you know what? I wish I was finishing less stuff.” And neither, it seems, has Hugh, since his mission is to help you get things done. In addition to his trademark THINK, PLAN, ACT model, Hugh is both a speaker and blogger. This piece is too good not to share: Why you are so damn distracted and how to finally get stuff done.
Morning people (and aspiring morning people), unite! It should come as no surprise that Jeff Sanders, who preaches the value of starting on the day’s work by 5 am, is a prolific writer and podcaster. In addition to his published books, you can listen to Jeff’s 5 AM Miracle podcast every week. We thought this episode about consistently achieving your ideal week was packed with value.
Live Your Legend (Chelsea Dinsmore)
Find your gift, then share it with the world around you. This is the mission of Chelsea Dinsmore at Live Your Legend, a resource center for anyone on a mission. In addition to hosting local meetups around the globe, Live Your Legend sells online courses and, of course, runs a blog dedicated to helping you pursue the work you love. We recommend this piece on the “risks” of pursuing the life you want.
Impossible HQ (Joel Runyon)
Some people dress up their language to soften the impact of their message. Not Joel. His no bullshit approach (one of the emails I got from his was called “Week 5 Puke Test,” so you know he’s not kidding around) to stop making excuses is the perfect kick in the ass we sometimes need. Start with this post challenging you to take a cold shower, and then—you brave soul, you—actually try it out.
Puttylike (Emilie Wapnick)
I met Emilie Wapnick at a conference and read her book, How to Be Everything, as part of a book club the following month. Emilie understands that some of us (*raises hand*) are interested in doing many things as opposed to specializing and doing just one thing. Her business, Puttylike, helps “multipotentialites” navigate the often conflicting desires and needs in deciding what they want to do. This post about handling the fear of being too complex is a good introduction to her philosophy and her ideas.
Fire Up Today (John Richardson)
Everything John Richardson does is to answer a single question: how can we achieve personal success? He studies habit formation, productivity, and goal setting, but his writing is particularly salient to creative entrepreneurs because he tests everything on himself first. That said, we thought one of his best pieces wasn’t an experiment, but an observation on how storytelling is a more effective vehicle than bullet points.
We’re pretty sure you’ve heard of Mark Manson, whose mega-bestseller The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck dominated nearly every bookshelf we saw last year. But just in case you haven’t, drop everything and head over to his blog, where he talks about life and art like, well, like he doesn’t give a fuck. Because we’re pretty sure he doesn’t, and we like him that way. (Not like he cares.) ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Get started with this piece on passion.
Hult International Business School
We’re always happy to see the world of higher education write for distribution in addition to for academic. Business schools are focused on corporate, and while we corporate isn’t for us (there’s a reason we’re entrepreneurs), we’d love to emulate the kind of efficiency you see in higher management. Hult International Business School’s blog is a good insight into what those high performers are thinking and what’s working now—maybe you’ll find something game-changing. Start with this post on the ideal work:rest ratio for peak productivity.
Harvard Extension School
The Harvard Extension School doesn’t publish nearly as often as we’d like, but some of what they do have is too good not to share. Since Harvard brings in the brightest minds, the quality of the knowledge they curate alone makes it worth following along. This short video by innovation consultants cum professors of creative thinking Anne Manning and Susan Robertson taught us to think around creative blocks in our own work.
Shawn Blanc – The Focus Course
Shawn Blanc is a creative entrepreneur who writes about focus and creativity. In addition to over 10 years of writing on his personal site, Shawn has a plethora of tools, resources, and courses to help you learn about focus and creativity. We enjoyed his post Learning not to think about it and his free email course, The Focus Course.
Yes Yes Marsha (Marsha Sandur)
We wish we could soak up Marsha’s curiosity and genius storytelling skills by osmosis, but reading her blog will have to be enough. Marsha teaches people how to tell stories and how to communicate, and she goes from high-level concepts to nitty gritty techniques, and this range is what we admire so much about her work. That said, we recommend this piece about handling a too-common situation for creative entrepreneurs—what to do when you’re teaching a new idea that people resist.
Tell Your Story Better (Izolda Trakhtenberg)
Izolda Trakhtenberg lives the life of a creative entrepreneur. As an author of both fiction and nonfiction, a speaking coach, a musician, a tarot reader, a podcaster, and we don’t even know else, Izolda has lived the creative entrepreneur life and she’s a master at keeping several balls in the air. We recommend you check out her new book Speak from Within, but we also think you should listen to her podcast, where she helps creative entrepreneurs create to innovate and spread the word about the important work they’re doing.
An entrepreneur and a prolific writer, Nicolas Cole’s mission is to help creative people create and publish something new every single day. He says he writes about 10,000 words in a day, every day, and then he breaks down his process. Nicolas says volume is the secret to creating quality content—making something every day is the only way to get in the practice required to make something truly extraordinary.
A marketer-turned-stoic, Ryan Holiday is first a foremost a writer. While there are lessons for all creatives in his books about stoicism (Ego is the Enemy and The Obstacle is the Way), his recent book Perennial Seller cements his dedication to artists and to the craft. As someone who excels in taking old ideas and presenting them to the current world, Ryan’s philosophy is that the work is the only thing that matters—because the work is what we still have from the Stoics.
Chris Guillebeau might be the best-kept secret on this list. (Fun fact: we got the idea for Checkpoints in 2017 at his World Domination Summit for creative people looking to live an unconventional life in a conventional world.) A prolific author, writer, and traveler, Chris taught us how to live on our own terms. There are too many resources we could point you to, but this 2008 manifesto is where it all started, and 10 years later, it still feels revolutionary to us.
Okay, so we’re a little biased, but we aspire to be like all of the above. We got the idea for Checkpoints at a conference, where we walked away with tons of ideas and figured we’d actually finish (maybe) one of them. Our creative friends express a similar struggle and we think that’s such a waste, that some ideas get made and some don’t because we lack the tools, strategies, and mindset to finish doing the work. We think you should check out this post [link TK] on science-backed tips to tell show writer’s block the fastest exit from the building.
By now, you should have the strategies to conquer procrastination, the lack of focus, and the overwhelm of finishing a big project.
We’re sure there’s something in here to help everybody get past their creative blocks and finish that next piece.
We’re always on the lookout for creative entrepreneurs who can help us sit down and do the work, so please share your own (or a friend’s) blog in a comment or share the link to this post if you enjoyed this list. 🙂
We hear sayings like; “follow your dreams,” and “do what you love and the money will come.” But sometimes, what you want out of life isn’t so clear. As children we are asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Not just what do you want to do, but what do you want to be. Sure, it’s small talk of sorts, but it plants a seed of expectation that we are supposed to know what we want even from childhood. However, life is rarely that simple. It gives us experience that leads us one way or another and many times away from whatever our six year old self dreamed of becoming.
This subject hits home for me as I could never put my finger on what was “wrong” with what I was doing. I enjoyed many aspects of my profession in photography and graphic design, but I didn’t feel like I “lived it” like many of my colleagues did. It wasn’t until one Thanksgiving when I brainstormed phone game ideas with my brother in law did I realize how much more excited and obsessed I was about the subject. But people my age were far into their careers, and how would I “catch up?”
Why didn’t I do this sooner?
I know I’m not alone in this feeling, friends in a similar boat as me have expressed this same rocky sentiment. Whether it’s starting a business, changing departments, or learning a whole new skill, it can feel discouraging looking at others who are already thriving doing what you want to do as well. Or feeling like you wasted your time by working in your previous career. This type of thinking creates an unnecessary stress that gives legitimacy to the fears that hold us back. What good does it do to add kindling to fear’s fire? Instead you should congratulate yourself for taking the steps today and not tomorrow!
I would never have guessed that games would be the thing that clicked for me. It wasn’t like a light bulb just turned on, but more like a slow fire starting to burn, illuminating a clear choice for me. I regretted not taking steps sooner, but that logic was faulty. How could I come to a conclusion without the experience to lead me to the point of realization that I needed a change? I couldn’t.
Pay attention to what stories you tell yourself. Fear’s fire is stoked with excuses like how we are too far behind, we aren’t skilled enough, or the perfectly reasonable worry that we won’t make enough money. But fear suffocates the flame of our passions, sucking away the air and attention from pursuing your dreams. The good news is you can choose what fire to stoke and take action to quench your fears.
Honor your journey
It can be a struggle to change your career and what you “do,” but often we need to realize that the past experience is what readied us for this path. Today you are far different than your six year old self and perhaps even who you were ten or even five years ago. What is important is you have gathered resources and leveled up in ways you never knew possible.
Write it down
Look back at your own personal story, acknowledge it, and celebrate the underlying theme of what brought you to the career change. What have you realized about yourself that made you want to change directions? What unique experience do you bring to the table for that are assets to your new career?
I thought my passion was in creativity, but as I lacked awareness of what truly inspired me. Looking back the jobs I enjoyed the most and the hobbies I found myself gravitating towards, all related to some type of storytelling. I love the way narrative can reach through time and space to create a connection between two potential strangers. Even now dear reader, I am able to speak to you from another time and place with the hope that my personal journey might help you in some small way.
Create a Plan
These kinds of changes don’t happen overnight. We are adults now after all. Often we can’t just quit our old jobs cold turkey, but if we are able to carve out a even a half hour each day or dedicate a day to that endeavor we will be that much closer to our goals. The important thing is to take action gathering the skills and prepare yourself for your new adventure. These things take time and every moment you can spare will pay off.
Prioritize what benefits you the most now. Make a list of what you need to do and pick out the most important aspects first. Don’t let yourself get lost in the minutiae of all the things you need to do. As much as I’d like to have a website and business cards for my new venture in games, it can wait, my time is better spent learning and refining my skills.
Set realistic deadlines and do your best to stick to them. It can be discouraging when you “fail” a deadline, even when it was the optimistic and unrealistic timeline that failed you. Take into account the amount of time you will be spending working towards that goal.
Embrace the hard parts
There’s no magic bullet, there’s no formula, and no shortcuts. There’s only work and dedication. That might seem disappointing at times, others might have seemed to have it all figured out already. But the truth is they put in the work and can you too. Take pride in the process.
How I find myself pushing through those extra hard times is I ask myself, “is it impossible?” If the answer is no, then I go forward, knowing that I will work is what will get me through. Through my creative education I remember many time feeling like I was good, but not great. Others in my class seemed much more advanced than me.
As time passed I noticed a trend, talent had very little to do with who continued on in their education or even out into the working world. The deciding factor was dedication.
So get your game face on and make the life you want happen.