A Guide to Self-Improvement Blogs: Managing Your Life or Wasting Your Time?

There are a lot of very popular websites out there geared towards bettering oneself. Are they worth your time or are they just fueling your procrastination?

Whether we like it or not, as members of the Oprah/Dr. Phil/Suze Orman generation, we have become conditioned to the notion of self-improvement. Certainly, men in their twenties are increasingly under pressure to be ‘the best' at everything they do. With these aspirations, we saw the rise of pyramid schemes and get rich quick scams flooding cyberspace.

At the same time, the world also saw the rise of a new philosophy known as “Get Things Done” or GTD for short. These values, which were developed by productivity consultant David Allen, were invented to help us improve the way we perform in work and life.

The theory is simple. It rests on the principle that a person needs to move tasks out of the mind by recording them externally. Only then, will you be freed from the job of remembering what needs to be done and instead, be able to concentrate on performing and achieving the goals you set out to accomplish. Essentially, it's a convoluted way of suggesting that we should all start putting ink to paper by turning our daily lives into virtual ‘To Do' lists.

The majority of the self-improvement blogs tend to adopt this simple recommendation, although they differ greatly in style and subject matter. Unfortunately, too often one will find that these websites tend to be run by self-professed ‘gurus' that promise wealth and prosperity on the condition that you purchase their self-published manuscript.

This is not to say that there aren't a few gems worth checking out. After extensive time spent ploughing through the thickets of the web, I found that there are plenty of blogs to cater to a diversity of ‘self help' needs.

Some of the most popular were developed singlehandedly by writers, broadcasters and counselors. My first enlightening visit was to www.ineedmotivation.com/blog. Here, the reader is exposed to an assortment of articles that range on subjects such as conflict resolution to healthy eating, exercise techniques and lessons on how to stop worrying. The main scribe is the best-selling author and broadcaster, Kelly Wallace, who delivers her subjects in straightforward, digestible prose. Kelly counsels over a thousand clients per year that include stockbrokers, doctors, clergy and celebrities. Her friendly guidance and international success make this an ideal starting point for those easing their way in.

On the other side of the pond, we find www.stevenaitchison.co.uk/blog. This space created by the UK-based life coach includes postings on areas that include finance, relationships, career and spiritual beliefs. The posts are stimulating and often encourage the user to engage with the material. Some of the matters covered were fascinating (and even controversial), such as Aitchison's suggestion that human beings could easily survive on only 5 hours' worth of sleep a day.

Still, one might be troubled by the author's tendency to draw solely on his own personal experiences, as opposed to science. Even so, young professionals will be tempted by some of Steven's anecdotes and I personally did have an enjoyable time performing the invigorating eye exercises that he recommended.Screenshot of 43 folders

However, if it is the complexities of the mind that interest you then Luciano Passuello's http://litemind.com might be more appealing. This blog mixes a product-based approach to self-improvement with Luciano's on light research. The most noteworthy thing I came across was a post that challenged the conventional ‘cone of learning' by encouraging participants to connect with reading materials more actively. But in the end, the site is let down by its overt simplicity, which to many of us will seem like little more than common sense.

After the initial humdrum, it was exciting to come across Merlin Mann's inventive www.43folders.com. Mann devotes his time to helping individuals improve their working lives through creative projects. He uncovers innovative technology such as the collaborative screenwriting software Celtx, whilst also contributing freewheeling assertions on how digital technology and hard work can help us improve our careers.

Surfers who like the above may also enjoy the chilled out experience of Leo Babauta's http://zenhabits.net. Babuata's journal, which is also one of the most popular, deals with more interesting issues of personal wellbeing. The most refreshing assertions come when he and his contributors challenge the traditional GTD value system. One such entry informs us of how to make the most of our busy lives, without having to set rigorous goals. The author who is a mother of six is obviously experienced in time management and her personal tone raises this blog a notch or two above the rest.Screenshot of zen habits

On the other hand, those looking for less specialist knowledge would probably be inclined to check out www.pickthebrain.com/blog or www.manageyourlifenow.com. Both are easy to navigate and include a vast amount of information, which is handily archived and easy to retrieve. If you want to be the ‘CEO of your own life' or find 6 reasons to justify your power napping than these are the blogs for you. The latter is particularly unique in that it encourages participants to submit their own articles. If you fancy forging the foundations of a career in personal development, you might find this a fitting launch pad.

Now we come to the crème del a crème of the virtual self-improvement universe. These are www.lifehack.org and http://lifehacker.com respectively. As the titles suggest the sites are open forums that reveal simple productivity tricks. However, what makes them unique is the sheer scope of issues covered. The first of these www.lifehack.org is without a doubt the most user friendly of the bunch. Utilizing a specialist editorial team and a long list of contributors, one will find topics that span the gamut from entrepreneurial networking to more lighthearted fare. For instance, one such piece reveals the ten most affordable pens that geeks love.Screenshot of lifehacker

Lifehacker deploys a similar approach. Both practical and humorous, Lifehacker does not limit itself to one strand of personal enhancement. Have you ever considered how to monitor your online reputation? Do you want to read reviews about the most comfortable workspaces? Do you struggle to figure out what kind of job would get you the most value for your time or do you simply want a resource that will enable you with the tools to make your own homemade iced coffee? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need look no further. Packed with insight and variety, this site will enthuse cyber geeks and housewives alike.

After all this, I wondered if I was any closer to personal fulfillment than before. Have the abundance of self-help blogs helped improve my life in any way? Ironically one discovers that reading self-improvement posts can equally act as a form of procrastination.

Accordingly, if you think you need something to motivate you or to spice up your routine, I suggest that you head out into the blogosphere with a conscious idea of what you want. In the end, the best way to Get Things Done is to start off by knowing what you're looking for.

Do you read a self-improvement blog that you really enjoy?  Do you think they're all a waste of time? Keep the conversation going in the comments.

Omar Kholeif

Omar is a writer and film curator based in between Glasgow & Liverpool, UK. He is also a Contributing Editor to Primer Magazine. Please visit: www.everythingok.co.uk, for more information.