Newsletters to read in 2021 (for Productivity & Leading a Good Life

Written by: Matthias Frank
Last edited: April 12, 2024

Newsletters are one of my favourite ways to learn more about the topics I deeply care about.

The only problem? Finding the right ones. It’s actually surprisingly hard to find well curated lists of newsletters for a given topic.

But as I’ve immersed myself more and more into the online bubble of productivity advice and the general question of how to lead a good life, I’ve slowly build up my personal reading list. The list is constantly evolving and I’m always looking to add more quality newsletters to it – so this is my current hit list in August 2021. I’ll share an update in the future.

Disclaimer: Yes, these are A LOT of newsletters (I’ve unsubscribed from even more) and no, I do not read every single issue of them. With a few notable exceptions, I treat my newsletter inbox like a magazine shelf. Browsing for interesting topics and headlines, picking out whatever I’m in the mood to read at the moment. I’ll write about how to organise your newsletter subscriptions in the future, so be sure to subscribe to my newsletter too.

So without further ado, here is my current newsletter stack. Sorting doesn’t reflect any ranking, it’s just the way they surfaced in my inbox while writing this article

1. RadReads by Khe Hy

You read my blog because you’re interested in learning how to lead a good life? Then there’s pretty much no way around RadReads. Learn how to structure your day, tackle your tasks and clarify your thinking. Plus a lot of introspection asking the important question: why would you even want to be more productive? One of the few newsletters that I read every single time. Come for the productivity, stay for the existential.

2. Maker Mind by Anne-Laure Le Cuff

Another highlight right at the beginning of this list. Anne-Laure Le Cuff shares amazing neuroscience-based tips on how to get the most out of your day without ruining your (mental) health. A genuine and kind corner of the internet with useful insights based on science – what else do you want from a newsletter?

3. Scott Young’s Newsletter

His book Ultralearning starred in the first ever post on this blog and his newsletter has been a staple in my inbox for a long time. Broadly positioned around the topics of lifelong learning and general productivity advice, Scott Young shares well-researched essays that never fail to create one or two aha-moments.

4. GrowPro Labs by Vensy Krishna

Looking for quick and actionable tips to improve your life? Or just want a better start into your week? Go sign up for this one and receive a short and insightful essay each Monday, covering topics from how to set goals, how to get better sleeping habits or how to start working out. Plus, she creates a ton of great Notion templates that she shares for free with her audience.

5. Monday Medley by Nat Eliason

Interested in a wide range of topics and not “just” productivity? Here, you’ll find discussions and articles from areas you wouldn’t have heard about otherwise. There’s a ton of quirky finds in here that don’t pop up anywhere else in my information bubble. Nat Eliason also writes a lot about crypto, so if you want to learn more about that, this is where you can start.

6. Monday Musings & Friday Finds by David Perell

Monday is a surprisingly busy day in my inbox. Continuing the trend of non-productivity related newsletters, David Perell curates a wide range of topics in his newsletter too. Here, you’ll find a lot of long form writing – after all, David Perell runs THE online writing course.

7. Boundless by Paul Millerd

Ever wondered how it would be to quit your 9-to-5 job, travel the world and make a living off the fact that it really doesn’t matter that much in which country your laptop is placed when you sit down to work? Then you’ll want to subscribe to this newsletter. There’s also a lot on how to lead a good life (and defining what that looks like in the first place), so you know I’m a fan. After all, that’s also the central question of my newsletter, Holistically Speaking.

8. Morning Brew

I used to have a lot of newspaper’s newsletters in my inbox, but I’ve unsubscribed from most of them. One of the few survivors is Morning Brew – one of the fastest growing newsletters out there (currently with more than 3 million subscribers). They offer a fun and entertaining look at what’s happening in the financial world. Only downside: they are very US-centric.

9. Forte Labs by Tiago Forte

Chances are that your job qualifies as knowledge work, which means you’re not so much adding value by executing physical jobs, but instead use your existing knowledge and creativity to solve various problems. Unfortunately, “Dealing with tons of information and organising work that happens mostly in your brain” is not taught in school. So you need to figure things out yourself. Or you subscribe to Tiago Forte’s newsletter and learn how to build a second brain.

10. Not Boring by Packy McCormick

Another newsletter that’s not directly related to productivity – but I would count “being educated about financial things” as a key part of leading a good life. And Not Boring is exactly that: a very interesting deep dive into current and future trends. Ever wondered what exactly the business model of Robinhood or certain crypto companies is? Subscribe and find out.

11. Wait but Why

Technically not a newsletter and more of a “get a notification for new blog posts” kind of service, it’s still one of my favourite emails to find in my inbox. It’s hard to explain in words just how good the articles are. So instead, I recommend that you check out one of my all time favourite reads on the internet: How to pick a career (that actually fits you). Or just subscribe and get a selection of the best articles sent to you every week.

12. Red Gregory’s Newsletter

If you’ve found my blog because of my Notion content (maybe the Student Planner, Zettelkasten Note Taking or Meal Planning?), then you’ll enjoy this one. Red Gregory is one of the most knowledgeable and gifted content creators around Notion out there. She’s my go-to resource for all technical Notion questions

13. Mind & Machine by August Bradley

Speaking of Notion, August Bradley’s newsletter is a must read for everyone looking to build systems to improve their life. Not only do you get a ton of valuable Notion templates for signing up, but his bi-weekly mails are also full of valuable lessons in systems thinking.

14. Redraft by Jamoe

Another gem of a newsletter, Redraft shares valuable lessons in honest productivity. Instead of an “always on”-mentality, you’ll find here lots of strategies to get your work done without burning out. If you’re a fan of Maker Mind (Nr. 2 on this list), then you’ll love this one too. Plus, it’s one of the most aesthetically pleasing newsletters in my inbox.

15. 5-Bullet Friday by Tim Ferris

Probably THE iconic newsletter in the productivity space, 5-bullet-Friday is actually not that productivity focused anymore. It’s a short collection of quotes, articles and things to watch from all the realms of possibility. If you enjoy newsletters that expose you to a lot of different things (like Nr. 5 and Nr. 6), then check this out.

16. Strong Opinions, Loosely Held by Elizabeth Filip

The first newsletter in the category “Come along as I share my personal journey with you” (besides obviously yours truly, Holistically Speaking) comes from Elizabeth Filip, who also runs a fast-growing youtube channel. Lots of interesting and refreshing takes – and you can also sign up for her book newsletter, which will send you amazingly detailed summaries of various non-fiction books.

17. Hulry by Rahul Chowdhury

Hulry is a rather new addition to my newsletter lineup (I’ve found it via The Sample), but it’s quickly shaping up to be one of my favourites. It just has so much great content. From new cool apps to try over some insightful articles to a new keyboard shortcut each week, Hulry definitely delivers on it’s promise: Be 1% better every week.

18. Kurated Weekly by Kevin Sutardji

Oftentimes, productivity takes on a rather narrow definition and is confined to “tick more things off on your to-do list”. But to me, it’s all about improving every area of your life (you know, a holistic approach). And if you’re looking to broaden your horizon, Kurated Weekly is a great place to start. It’s all about identifying what matters to you and prioritising your mental health and well-being. His whole approach to intentional living greatly resonates with me. Check it out.

19. Plan your next by Nate Kadlac

Moving a bit away from the general productivity newsletters, here’s something great if you’re interested in unleashing your own creativity. Nate Kadlac teaches an online course that helps you discover your own visual style and shares various resources and insights around this topic each week. Particularly great if you come from a more analytical background and are new to the world of design.

20. Growth Currency by Dylan

Another newsletter for creators or people who want to start sharing online. It’s packed with tons of good advice and a real powerhouse when it comes to showing you the ropes of the creator economy. I’m particularly impressed with the amount and variety of content packed in every single edition. If you share anything online (or plan to), subscribe and learn.

21. For the Interested by Josh Spector

Finishing off the trifecta of creator newsletters with a true powerhouse, this is an amazing place to learn how to write a newsletter. Each week, you’ll get ten links to useful articles that will help you to get better at creating content online and gaining an audience. I wish I had found this earlier, but I’ll start implementing the lessons moving forward (if you’re subscribed to my newsletter, then you’ll get to enjoy the results).

22. Sunday Snippets by Ali Abdaal

If you’ve ever looked for productivity related content on Youtube, then you probably know Ali’s Youtube Channel (if not, check it out. Tons of great stuff and exactly my kind of humour). His newsletter is more of a personal story telling place (similar to Nr. 16 on this list), but entertaining and insightful nonetheless.

23. Recomendo

If you love the One more thing section of Holistically Speaking because you love discovering cool new apps, tools and toys, then this is a must read. Each week, you’ll get 6 quirky, useful and / or funny recommendations from the depths of the internet. I’ve already featured several on my newsletter, most recently Shazam for Birds.

24. The Weekly Contrarian by Ozan Varol

I discovered Ozan Varol roughly around the time that he decided to quit his career as a tenured law professor to focus on his online writing. Sounds like a crazy career move? Well, before he became a law professor, he worked as a rocket scientist. His newsletter never fails to ask thought-provoking questions and points out the many ways in which your brain (or society) tricks to into wrong decisionss.

25. Refind

Last but not least, Refind isn’t so much a newsletter itself as it is a discovery tool. Once you sign up for their service and pick your interest, their AI powered algorithm will send you related articles every day. It’s a great way if you want to follow specific topics but would love to broaden the number of sources. Since starting with refind, I’ve already found a bunch of new websites and authors to keep an eye on.

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