YouTube is a fantastic resource for learning new things, finding others with similar interests and just for general entertainment. For something that gives me so much value, it’s pretty amazing that this website remains free to use. Sure, there are adverts, but having to sit through the occasional 5 or 10 second advert prior to a video is a small price to pay given what YouTube offers. Plus, if you have the means, you can just sign up to one of the paid subscription YouTube memberships (YouTube Premium and YouTube Music) to do away with the advertising altogether.
Having said that, there is definitely a side to YouTube which is more concerned with encouraging procrastination and keeping you on the site at all costs. I am not sure anyone outside of Google employees know the full ins and outs of how the YouTube algorithm works, but I find that the site has a curious case of recommending me clickbaity type content regardless of my subscriptions. Once they have got you on the hook watching one such video, it can then be difficult to extract yourself and escape as your mind enters binge-mode and commences its tumble down one of YouTube’s many low-quality content rabbit holes.
What is interesting about getting caught in one of these mildly entertaining loops of videos which you did not set out to watch is how difficult it can be to actually drag yourself away and close out of the YouTube tab. When I come-to and finally realise that I’ve just wasted a half hour, an hour or maybe even longer watching light entertainment clips of toy dogs going to the hairdresser, I often feel a big sense of remorse for having wasted such a large amount of valuable free time.
So although YouTube can be a great resource, it can also be a massive distraction and source of procrastination. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it is the most distracting of all social media platforms.
However, when used in the correct way (and provided you maintain a strong degree of willpower), I have found YouTube to be a fantastic source of motivation to be productive and improve yourself. Especially on days when I’m feeling particularly lethargic, when the weather’s poor or I just haven’t slept well, certain creators and content can definitely help in lifting me out of the doldrums.
So let’s take a look at five of my favourite YouTube channels which provide me with inspiration to be productive. Some of these creators inspire me to keep working on my side income projects such as this blog, while others motivate me to develop my hobbies further (for example, improving my piano playing). Maybe one of them can help you too if you’re feeling a little low and searching for inspiration.
1. Income School
This YouTube channel focuses on providing practical tips for making money online and the various avenues you can pursue as a beginner. It was one of the big motivators for me to start this site!
Unlike the “make money online guru” types, the presenters of Income School seem like genuine fellas and aren’t just out to hard sell you on an eBook. On the contrary, they provide a tonne of content for free on their YouTube channel which helped me get started with this website and is helping me to continue to grow my online income.
My favourite videos by the Income School guys are their website analysis videos where they deconstruct one of their followers’ websites and discuss what has made it successful. On the flipside, they also deconstruct websites which are struggling to generate income and provide advice on why that might be the case and what steps can be taken to turn things around for the better.
If you’ve been thinking about trying to make some online side income from blogging, check out their channel here. I have embedded one of my favourite videos of theirs showing a blogging success story as a taster:
2. CNBC Make It
If you’re interested in the financial markets, you’ll probably already be familiar with CNBC, the business news network. However, they also run the YouTube channel CNBC Make It, which primarily focuses on financial success stories.
As well as giving you a look into the general lifestyle habits of these young and successful individuals, the videos also provide insight on the finer details of the income and spending habits of the individual in question. Although it’s not necessarily healthy to always be comparing yourself to others, it is definitely interesting to see how others are managing their income, with some living practically paycheque to paycheque while others adopt a much stricter habit of saving and investing the majority of their income each month.
If you do not mix in entrepreneurial circles, these videos definitely offer a fascinating insight into the varied earnings of these enterprising types. I rarely come away from watching them without feeling excited to think about new ways to continue to diversify my income!
I have embedded one of my favourite episodes below featuring a property valuer with a very real estate-orientated income for starters. The link to their channel page is here.
3. Ali Abdaal
Ali Abdaal is a productivity superhero. He somehow manages to balance working as a junior doctor, while also maintaining a very active YouTube channel, blog and online tutoring business. Oh, and he still somehow finds time to practice and record piano and guitar covers for Instagram!
Ali is testament to what you can achieve if only you focus your attention and energy effectively. We often say that we “just don’t have time for X“, whether that “X” is working out, working on our side hustles or just practising the piano. Through his YouTube videos however, Ali shows that often this not having time discourse is just an excuse. For example, if I were to add up the amount of time per week I spend just browsing the internet or watching Netflix/Disney+, it would amount to quite an alarming total which I could have allocated much more productively somewhere else.
Of course, I am not suggesting that we go without entertainment or downtime altogether (and Ali certainly doesn’t), just that we should be more conscious of the amount of time we devote to our activities. For instance, if you are serious about making money online through an online venture such as blogging, think about how much time you are willing to devote to this endeavour and whether you might be able to allocate more by spending less time on your less-productive activities.
If you’re having trouble with managing your time effectively and suffer from procrastination, I think the following video will be of significant use to you. Ali’s tips for being productive are fantastic and you can find his channel here.
4. Matt D’Avella
You may already be aware of Matt since he is one of, if not the most popular “minimalist” on YouTube.
Matt’s channel sees him trying out various techniques for improving his quality of life, ranging from the more useful (decluttering and becoming more “minimalist”) to the more faddish (daily cold showers? Until I move to sunny Rio De Janeiro, no thanks). But generally, if you are interested in learning about new productive life hacks and methods for improving your lifestyle, Matt’s channel is a great source for ideas. He’ll also give you his honest verdict on which methods and techniques are actually worth trying.
Matt’s YouTube channel is another fantastic success story of someone who has taken their online business (in his case, his YouTube channel) from humble beginnings to having a multimillion-strong subscriber following.
He’s also a great narrator and the video quality is lush, so the videos generally are just very pleasant to watch. I’ve embedded a good intro to his channel for you to check out below and you can check out his main YouTube channel here.
5. 李子柒 Liziqi
Liziqi is a multi-talented and highly industrious YouTuber based in Pingwu, China. Unlike my other four suggestions, she rarely gives any direct to camera commentary. In fact, there is very little speech in her videos at all. Instead, her videos just consist of fixed shots of her endeavours in farming, cooking, carpentry, music and sewing (to name a few).
I always find watching someone so skilful to be incredibly inspiring, but Liziqi’s videos are on another level in their scope. For instance, in certain videos she will begin by planting seeds, midway through the video she will harvest the crop and finally she will be cooking with what she has grown. In other words, the planning and content of these videos spans several months.
Aesthetically, I think that Liziqi’s videos are perhaps the most beautiful on YouTube. Whether you’re looking for inspiration to be more productive or you simply want a peaceful video to relax with after a stressful day, her videos are bound to lift your spirits.
I have embedded one of her more popular recent videos below for you to get started. Her channel can be found here.
I hope you liked my list! Which are your favourite YouTube channels for motivation and productivity? Let me know in the comments!
If you liked this list, I’ve also written an article setting out the best music for concentration (well, in my opinion at least!).