Welcome to the 12 best blogs of Christmas

Word count: 747 words

Reading time: About 3 minutes

In this, my last column of 2009, I bring you 12 blogs — one for each of the days of Christmas.

This is what I like to call a “high concept” column. I’m taking the song the 12 days of Christmas and, um, re-purposing the title to present the 12 best blogs of Christmas. Not that these best blogs have anything to do with the holiday season! Instead, they cover topics I think you might find interesting and useful.

1) Communicatrix: A retired copywriter for brands like Jell-O and a former actress, Colleen Wainwright now spends her time (in her own words) “teaching other creative souls how to talk about what they do in a way that wins them attention, work and satisfaction.” Her blog is sometimes a little potty-mouthed but it’s also funny and charming. She won my heart when she posted a link to how to use Google Reader. (Yes, I’m embarrassed I didn’t know how to do that til now.)

2) Clutter busting blog: I found Brooks Palmer thanks to Colleen and I love his attitude toward getting rid of clutter. No guilt. No fuss. Just a perfect understanding of how we all get into the messes we do — and excellent, non-judgmental advice on how to get out of them. He’s also a clear, from-the-heart writer.

3) Unclutterer: Subtitled “daily tips on how to organize your home and office” this helpful and brief daily blog gives great advice on things like how to reduce your paperwork, how to control your gift-giving and how to tame your wardrobe. It’s written by Erin Rooney Doland, a former clutterer, and it’s a super-fast read. I won’t go a day without it.

4) Study Hacks: I discovered this when I was trolling the net and tripped over the headline “How an MIT postdoc writes 3 books, a PhD defense and 6+ peer-reviewed papers and finishes by 5:30 pm.” Not being able to ignore a come-on like that, I discovered Cal Newport. In his remarkably focused workday, this guy not only manages his career at MIT but also produces this terrific blog on productivity.

5) The Happiness Project: I realize I risk sounding slightly loopy to be worried about happiness, but, yes, I, too, want to be happier. And Gretchen Rubin cares a great deal about the subject. She’s a terrific writer and has spent the last few years test-driving her theories on happiness for her new book (coming out at the end of December). Even if you think you don’t care about happiness, read her blog anyway because this woman can write.

6) The blog of author Tim Ferriss: I discovered Tim Ferriss thanks to his cheeky and thought-provoking book The Four-Hour Workweek. Yes, I was sucked in by the title and don’t for a minute believe that he works only four hours per week. But he’s a master at reducing workload (his book is definitely worth reading) and he lives an incredibly interesting life, filled with plenty of travel and lots of amusements.

7) Guide to Literary Agents: I found Chuck Sambuchino via a mention on Twitter (don’t forget my advice re: Twitter!) and I’ve discovered his blog to be extremely informative. His new regular feature “How I Got My Agent” may be especially useful.

8 ) Storyfix: Interested in writing fiction? Larry Brooks, who is the author of psychological thrillers and “101 Slightly Unpredictable Tips for Novelists and Screenwriters,” offers a wealth of practical, useful advice.

9) Time to Write: Jurgen Wolff is interested in the spots where writing and creativity intersect, as am I. His blog includes all sorts of video links to interesting writers. A real gem.

10) Presentation Skills and Storytelling in Business: How I wish Doug Stevenson posted more frequently! He looks a tad goofy in his photo at the topic of the page but his content is stellar. This blog is a must-read for anyone who does public speaking.

11) Manage your writing: Most of the time Ken Davis and I share so many thoughts about writing I suspect we were twins separated at birth. We did have a recent disagreement about outlining though. He’s in favour; I prefer mindmapping. That dispute aside, I think his writing advice is excellent.

12) My bad habits: When I’m not thinking about clutter, I’m pondering how I can better use my time. This blog — subtitled “scientific advice for lasting habit change” — provides terrific advice from Ian Newby-Clark, a professor of psychology who studies habits.