It’s easy to pigeonhole “influencers” as young people on Instagram all taking the same pictures of the same places to try to help them earn themselves sponsorships from beauty products and potato chips. The truth, though, is that there are influencers in every industry, and in fact, there are an awful lot of people focused on helping their followers become more productive, and as a result, more successful.
In this post, we’re going to cover the top 10 productivity influencers you should be following so you can get more done of what matters most.
Thomas Frank – The YouTuber
Thomas Frank is the founder of College Info Geek and runs a massively popular YouTube channel about how to be more productive.
Two million subscribers can’t be wrong. Thomas has been making a weekly video on how to be more productive for years, helping millions of people learn tips and tricks to be successful at school and in their careers. In an era when more young people take their cues from online videos more than any kind of traditional media, Thomas is helping us all figure out how to be more successful in the modern era of work.
Top tips: One way lots of people struggle to be more productive is balancing their existing work with the need to learn new things to stay competitive in the modern workplace. Thomas recommends something he calls the five hour rule, which is carving out one hour a day, five days a week, to learn something new that will help advance your career. While finding the time to take a whole course or upgrade your skills can be intimidating, carving out 60 minutes a few days a week is much easier to fit into your schedule, with the same end result.
Thomas’ most popular video also highlights a brilliant technique for accelerated learning and mastering your craft, whatever line of work you might be in. In a hat tip to the legendary physicist Richard Feynam, the Feynman Technique is based on the saying that “the best way to really learn something is to teach it”. In this case, Thomas recommends picking one skill that’s important to your career and taking twenty minutes and a notepad to explain it as best you can, in easy to understand language. This will not only help you learn to talk more clearly about the work you do, but also give you a clearer understanding of the most important elements of your work and make you more productive.
You can check out Thomas’ channel here
Marie Poulin – The Systematizer
As the cofounder of a successful digital agency, Marie Poulin knows how hard it can be to get to everything a business owner has on their plate. That’s why, a few years ago, she got obsessed with productivity, especially how to use Notion to systematize your work like a “Jedi master.” In her Mastering Notion course, and on her free YouTube channel, Marie does a deep dive into how to design systems that make it easier to get everything done (or everything important, anyways.)
In particular, Marie loves using Notion to create templates and systems that will allow you to save tons of time on repetitive tasks. For instance, maybe all your clients go through the same process when they start working with you, or you owe them all monthly reports. Building assets that you can copy at the click of a button each time you need them will save you hours over the course of a week.
Top tip: Instead of starting from scratch every Monday, or just living off of your to-do list, build a weekly agenda in Notion (or your favorite task manager) that you can easily replicate to give you a head-start on the week.
Check out here Twitter feed here
Francesco D’Alessio – The Reviewer
Francesco D’Alessio from Keep Productive has made himself into the Roger Ebert of productivity tools, becoming the best reviewers out there on his popular YouTube channel. Focusing on the tools and techniques that are trendy at the moment, he helps his audience cut through the noise, avoid the trouble of stumbling through new apps all the time, and just focus on using the best software and methods to get more done.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the productivity content out there, but letting Francesco lead the way and tell you the most important bits can be a huge help.
Top tip: Coincidentally, Francesco recently named Woven his new favorite productivity app. Not that we’re bragging. (Thanks, Francesco! We’re pretty fond of you too.)
You can follow Francesco on Twitter here
Nat Eliason – The Organizer
When there are a million different productivity tools, how do you choose the best one? Better yet, how do you get the most out of it? Nat Eliason, the founder of Growth Machine, has been writing for years on his personal blog about exactly that. In addition to his writings on daily routines, weekly reviews, and other productivity techniques, he’s best known for his guides to using organizational software like Roam Research.
While there have been options like Evernote available for many years, Nat writes about how to use these sometimes-complicated new tools to organize all the information that entrepreneurs and other busy people need to be highly productive at work.
Top tip: Nat’s a big believer in using weekly reviews to help you get clear on what needs to get done, but who has time? Thankfully, he’s put together a great guide on how to have quick and easy weekly planning sessions.
Chat with Nat at @nateliason
Tiago Forte – The Notetaker
Tiago Forte is the founder of Forte Labs, an online school for helping knowledge workers learn productivity techniques. More importantly for our purposes, though, he’s the creator of Building a Second Brain, a course that teaches how to create a functional database of the things you know to help you get more done. Originally intended for Evernote power users, the idea of creating a place to catalogue your knowledge, and capture things you want to remember, is much bigger than one piece of software, and in fact, Tiago is now teaching people how to expand the practice into other apps as well.
In an age of information overload, he goes deep into the details of how to organize the important information in your life in a way that’s clear, makes it easy to find things, and makes sure you’ll never forget anything important ever again.
Top tip: Anything worth remembering should be written down somewhere easy to access, and anything you’re worried about forgetting should take priority.
Follow Tiago on Twitter at @fortelabs
Cal Newport – The Professor
Best known as the author of bestselling business books like So Good They Can’t Ignore You and Deep Work, Cal Newport is a computer scientist and professor at Georgetown University who’s made the study of productivity his life’s work. His Study Hacks blog is full of great tips for getting more done, even though it was initially targeted at students.
However, what he’s best known for in the productivity space is popularizing the idea of Deep Work – specifically, the need to carve out time in your schedule for long blocks of uninterrupted time to focus on your most important tasks. The core of his work is focused on how to reclaim your time and headspace in an era defined by distractions, from email to smart phones. He’s gone so far as to advocate for busy creatives and professionals to adopt a kind of “digital minimalism” and think more consciously about what media and technology they allow into their lives.
Top tips: In Deep Work, Cal lays out a number of techniques to help you be more productive, all around reclaiming your time and focus so that you can work on the things that are most important. However, one of our favorites from the book was to pay special attention to making sure that your time isn’t being filled with “shallow work.” Put another way, you might call this work that’s urgent, but not important. It’s really easy to let work that seems time sensitive, or that you think someone is waiting for, ahead of your most important tasks. Save your most productive hours for your most important work.
Cal Newport isn’t on social media, for obvious reasons, but check out his blog
Tim Ferriss – The Lifehacker
It wouldn’t be a productivity list without mentioning Tim Ferriss somewhere along the way, and sure enough, the author of The 4 Hour Workweek and host of the popular podcast The Tim Ferriss Show is making an appearance here as well. While the controversial title of his first book may have overshadowed his techniques for getting the most out of every hour of your day, his podcast is much more straightforward – he interviews people at the top of various fields and probing for the tips and tricks that have made them elite performers.
There are plenty of episodes with executives and entrepreneurs about how they get things done, but some of the best advice comes from interviewees as diverse as actor Jamie Foxx and legendary music producer Rick Rubin. Common themes include the importance of morning routines to start the day right, journaling to help clarify your thoughts, and meditation to help manage anxiety and maintain a clear focus on your priorities.
Top tip: While Tim is best known for his advice to automate or delegate anything that doesn’t need to be done yourself, the opposite of that is also true: find the one thing that only you can do, and make that a priority. Tim recommends using daily journaling and meditation to help you identify those priorities, then giving yourself 2-3 hours to focus on only that. If finishing that one task would make you feel good about your day, you’re on the right track.
Follow Tim for more productivity advice at @tferriss
James Clear – The Habit Master
A successful author and the creator of one of the biggest productivity blogs ever, James Clear is best known for his excellent book Atomic Habits. He’s been focused for years on reviewing the best available science on focus and productivity to help his readers lead better, more successful lives, without all of the fluffy self-help cliches.
Specifically, he’s put a large share of his focus on developing better habits. After all, habits are the things we do most often, usually without thinking about them, so it’s important to build habits that serve you, and remove the ones that might be holding you back. To hear James tell it, “Your life today is essentially the sum of your habits.”
Top tips: Sometimes, the best productivity hack is knowing when to say “no.” In fact, saying no a lot – no email before noon, no cell phone in the room while you work, and no one else putting things on your calendar. As he put it, “default to saying no and only say yes when it really makes sense.”
Follow James on Twitter here
Noah Kagan – The Entrepreneur
Before he was employee #30 at Facebook and the founder of AppSumo, Noah Kagan was already a productivity wiz, but there’s something about running a startup that makes you value your time very differently. That’s what led Noah to zero in on his productivity, and his team’s, to help the business grow, and discovered many of the tricks that have made his YouTube channel a favorite for entrepreneurs and productivity geeks alike.
One of Noah’s favorite productivity tricks is telling everyone to set the speed on thier mouse or trackpad to the maximum as high as it will go. It takes a little while to adjust to the increased sensitivity, but once you get used to it, your cursor almost immediately points where you want it to go and you never have to scroll more than once.
Top tips: Noah’s also a big believer in planning your day as completely as possible. Even if you’re spending it on your own and don’t have eternal constraints on your time – and perhaps especially then – he recommends putting everything you want to do for the day on your calendar in 30 or 60 minute increments to structure your time and make sure that everything you want to get done has a dedicated time block. We’re obviously big fans of calendars, and time blocking, so this gets a big +1 from us, and we’ve made it as easy as possible with Woven.
Noah is (very) active on Twitter @noahkagan
Joel Runyon – Doing the Impossible
Last but not least, this list wouldn’t be complete without a hat tip to our friend, endurance athlete and serial entrepreneur Joel Runyon. When Joel’s not running a marathon on all seven continents (yes, even Antarctica,) he’s launching new projects, helping startups with their marketing, and generally getting a crazy number of things done. He recently launched four products on ProductHunt in four weeks including a meal planning app and a mobility coach for remote workers.
But it’s his blog, IMPOSSIBLE, where Joel dispenses advice on mindset, habits, and changing your life that make him an influencer in the productivity space. He’s always experimenting with new ways to stay healthy and productive, even in a pandemic, like with his recent plan to break up the work-day with short bursts of bodyweight workouts, Pomodoro Pushups.
Top tip: Workstation Popcorn, Joel’s plan for moving between different locations with different goals during the workday, is a favorite among productivity bloggers. It’s easy to let your mind wander when you have an indefinite to-do list, or to get bored and grumpy stuck at the same desk 8 hours a day, so Joel started working out of 3-4 different locations per day, with specific to-do lists for each location. When those tasks are done, you’re on the next one, preferably using a nice walk or bike ride to get there.
Follow Joel on Twitter @joelrunyon
While the online world is full of influencers talking about all sorts of silliness, there are plenty of amazing people sharing their best productivity tips and trying to help their audience grow together. These ten follows would be a great start to help you be more productive in your work.