Today we’ll be talking with Mark Struczewski. Mark is a productivity expert and entrepreneur who tries to help people be more productive in a world full of distractions. He assists other entrepreneurs in gaining control of their time, by taming distraction so that they can enjoy their lives in the process. He’s an author, online trainer, and podcaster is going to share his process about how we can improve productivity step by step.
Manuj thank you so much for having me on the show. It is an absolute thrill to be here to help you and your audience.
Awesome. So productivity is a huge problem. I have read some statistics, which are, you know, really scary, like productivity loss results in lost businesses about in trillions of dollars around the globe. So tell us a little bit about that. Like why why what is the root cause of this productivity loss, what is going on? And then we can jump on to some solutions to this problem.
I think part it’s a multi part answer. Some people are lazy, they just don’t want to be productive. They want to do the minimum amount of work they need to do every day. So that’s one group of people. The other, there’s another group of people, they just don’t know how I mean, they want to be more productive, but they don’t know how and because they don’t know how they don’t know where to reach out. They go to Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and spend time there or, or playing video games or whatever. So I think that there’s a variety of people, but I gotta believe I like the best, I believe the best and most both people. I think most people want to be productive, but most people want to be great members of society, but they don’t know. And it’s like, if I don’t know how to do Facebook, I go find a Facebook expert. I just don’t wing it. I just or I don’t quit, I go figure out who can teach me how to be better at it. So I think a lot of people are either lazy, but I think the vast majority people they just don’t know.
Yeah. So do you think this rise of Social media as you as you said, you know, people go to Facebook and YouTube, instead of looking for solutions, they end up getting distracted. And, you know, I know, distraction are a big problem which give rise to loss and productivity. So is this the advent of sort of social media emails and all that a big factor in our destruction?
Yeah, one one thing people have to realise and they know it subconsciously, is that social media is designed to keep you on the platform until you die. Okay? Social media is not your friend. And I want to distinguish there’s two different ways of using social media. There’s building your business and brand, that’s the good part. And then there’s endless scrolling, watching kid videos and cat videos and, and just literally wasting your time. I don’t think social media is bad unless you make it bad. And like email, I mean, email could be a tool. It could be an ally, it could be something is going to help you or it could be a debt. From into your productivity. So I think it’s going to be unique for every person. I can’t make a blanket statement and say, all social media is bad or all emails bad. I think it depends on how you’re using it.
So, um, before we jump onto the solutions, let us get to know you a little bit. So what happened, what transpired in your life that attracted you towards becoming a productivity expert?
Well, in July 2005, I was fired from my job here to Houston hospital, and I decided, well, what am I gonna do? I know I’ll become an entrepreneur. I’m an entrepreneur. Yeah, that’s the word. And I didn’t know what it was, but I figured I’d be an entrepreneur. My first dive into that field was in wedding and portrait photography. I that didn’t that business did not succeed. Obviously, I wouldn’t be here on the show with you today. But one of the things that came out of that was my love for professional speaking.
And once I found my love for speaking, I didn’t want to speak about photography, because I originally speaking on photography, and teaching people to take better pictures. What have you? What am I going to speak? So I came up with a couple of topics, which today I don’t even know where I came up with. One is from hopeless to hopeful that didn’t go anywhere. Another one was, how to come overcome how to overcome roadblocks in your path to success. Note to self, when you’re not successful, don’t tell people how to be successful. So one day I was on a phone call with one of my coaches now was not having a good day. And he goes, What’s going on? I said, I really like, you know, helping people and speaking and training and stuff like that. But I don’t know what I should teach on. He says, Well, why not productivity? And I remember saying to him, I don’t know where that came from. But why would you say that? And he goes, Well, because you’re naturally productive. I know a lot of people and you’re one of the most productive people. I know, you should share that gift for the world. And so then I started going, Wow. I mean, this is I mean, to me being productive is real easy. But I know most people struggle with it. So I decided to hang my shingle, so to speak, and out for the world to see. And I became a productivity expert.
Awesome. All right. That’s, that’s a interesting story. So Now let’s dive a little bit deeper into the solutions like, you know, what are some of the challenges that you think people face? And how can they address them, those challenges become more productive?
Well, people are so overwhelmed, and it’s self inflicted, because what they do is they have every notification turned down on their phone. And so their phones are constantly bingeing and zonkey and vibrating all day long. They can’t focus on what they really need to focus on. So what I would the first thing I tell every client is turn off notifications. And they have this deer in headlights. Look, they’re like, what if someone needs to get hold of me? Like, dude, you’re not that important. Okay? I’m not that important. News. You’re not that important. We think we’re more important than we really are. are. We’re important to our moms and maybe our family, but we’re not that important. I think people need to let go. And the thing is, is if you can harness the what I call a notification cleanse, turn off 99.99% of the notifications Your phone is not going to buzzes much, and you’re going to have more peace because you’re not gonna be worried, oh, my phone is paused. Who could that be? And then we become overwhelmed. And we become so focused on replying to those messages, those text messages those voicemails, those those notifications and social media, that that’s all we do all day long. It’s we just focused on that. And we’re not focused on things that are going to move the needle for us to achieve the goals we want. So I think people first of all need to turn off notifications for almost everything. Now. You can leave your calendar notifications on and your reminders. If you have a credit card app like I do, every time I use my card notifies me What’s the good thing? Because if I’m here in Houston, Texas, and it says my card was used in Pakistan. Well, that’d be good to know. But most notifications need to be turned off.
Yeah, that’s a good point. Now, I can vouch for this, you know, ever since I’ve been interviewing this, I have actually had to turn off notifications by necessity. I mean, it is kind of peaceful, you know, you don’t have to worry about it. But once in a while I do miss an important message or you know, an email or what have you. So, how do you how do you like, Is there a workaround towards that where, you know, you actually can work in peace but also get sort of urgent messages. If you’re waiting for somebody or if it’s truly urgent. How do you tackle that situation?
If it’s truly urgent, I hope someone picks up the call. It picks up the phone calls me I mean, my house is on fire. Don’t send me an email. Okay, come banging on my door. And I think what I tell people to do, like I have my vibration mode turned off on my phone. So if I truly want to be undisturbed, I put it on you. Vibration won’t go off and I put it face down and I just ignore the phone. I am not that important. I mean, if it’s really truly urgent, and I’ve had some urgent messages, people that invoice finances call mark, call me right away. I call them 30 minutes later and turns out not to be an emergency. mean, let’s be let’s be honest here, okay, I’m a productivity expert. Okay? I never had a productivity emergency. Sometimes that you have family emergencies, and I don’t always have my phone muted. But if I’m like, like, right now I’m doing this interview with you that my watch is muted. My phone is muted, because I’m dedicating my time to you and your audience. If someone calls me right now, my phone is facedown. I don’t even know I get the call. And so you’re not going to be able to catch everything. But the I go back to I said a few minutes ago, we’re not that important. 99% of the time, which is a statistic I just literally made up most of the time. It’s okay, if you miss this stuff. It’s it’s not you’re not that important. I think people are. I’ll give an example. I’m 54. And I remember when I used to go to school, there was no cell phones. There was no internet. And if mom wanted to get ahold of me, she had to call the school office. They had to have a student go down to the classroom to get me out of class. I’d walk down to the office, talk to my mom walk out the school. Now kids are like, and the parents say I added my cell phone. I gotta get a hold my kid I’m like, really? How did I survive? How to thousands Thousands of people survive without having a cell phone. Yeah, remember, cell phones weren’t around since the beginning of time. They’re they’re relatively new invention. So yes, they’re very integral part of our day. But if you lose your cell phone, we have heart palpitations, you go to the emergency room having a heart attack, anxiety. Okay, it’s okay. Take a breath. You’ll be all right.
Yeah. So that’s a good point. You know, cell phones have not been around for long. But let’s go back to 2005 when you know, when this whole thing transfer transpired in your life? Yeah, even then, you know, notifications. And social media was not like a big thing at that time. But even then, productivity was an issue. I remember, like, ever since I started working in professional setting. This was back in 99. And I like people who are complaining if you don’t have enough time, you know, there’s too much to do. So, besides social media, besides notification, there are some more underlying issues as well, I think. So. Do you agree with that? If so, like, you know, what are some of the issues that people face and how can we resolve?
I think one of the reasons One of the issues is people don’t have a plan. So they’re living in reactionary mode all day long. And instead of saying, Okay, what do I want to do today? What do I want to do this week? They’re just like, okay, whatever happens happens, I’ll deal with it. Well, that leads to overwhelm that leads to frustration that leads to a whole bunch of problems. And so I always tell people have a plan.
Okay. Have a plan. Yeah. If you work eight to five, Monday through Friday for a company, yeah, okay. They have control your day from eight to five, but you know, still have a plan still sit down and go, Okay, what do I want to accomplish this week, either professionally or personally, I think just taking that time and thinking about what you want to do with your life is really going to be life changing. But most people, they’re so busy on social media, they’re so busy playing video games, they’re just in reactionary mode. They’re not stopping to go Okay, what do I want out of my life that today, this week, this month, this year, the next five years, most people I hate to say this, but if you put a gun to their head and say, Tell me your goals, you’d probably want to pull the trigger. They, they like, I don’t know, like, how many. How do you live without having goals? I mean, a whole point of being productive and you have a goal, you’re you’re aiming for something when they launch a missile from a submarine, that missile doesn’t just go up and randomly go hit a target, it knows where it’s going to go. And I’m shocked the number of people I know, personally, that they have no goals and I’m like, how do you get up in the morning? I mean, what do you aim for to you know, you’re all you woke up? That’s that’s your goal. You woke up this morning? And I think people need to really step back and go, Okay, what do I want out of life? Don’t care for 22 or 92? What do you want out of life?
Yeah, yeah. Um, do you think this is an inherent problem in the way we raise kids or educate them because I do find you know, this problem is becoming a little bit more so it’s becoming a bigger problem with millennials and Gen X and so on, so forth. people who are you know, they grew up in social media, they grew up with these devices from an early age. So what is your observation?
That’s a very interesting question. I think. I blame partly the parents because the parents should be teaching the kids, you need to have a plan. No, you can’t be on social media all these hours. You know, I think it’s got to start from the top like a company wants to institute new policy. It’s got to start from the top and work its way down. It can’t come from the middle managers, it’s got to come to the top. So it’s a very interesting question, because I really think I see a lot of people pointing fingers. You know, they’re blaming Facebook, they’re blaming Android. They’re blaming Apple that it’s not my fault. I’m addicted Instagram. Yeah, it kind of is. If you’re an adult. It’s your fault. Because guess what you can do, you can actually log out of your account, you can delete your account, you can delete the app. So I mean,
Yeah. Now, let’s take the other side of the coin as well, like, you know, we have a lot of entrepreneurs in the audience, people who want to who are either working on their startups of their aspiring to become a startup entrepreneur. And that and the fact that like, you know, when they need to sell their service of product, they have to account for social media, because, you know, most of the people are on that platform, these kind of platforms. They have to engage with them, they have to get traction, using social media as one of the strategy one of the core strategies if I can say so in that situation. I mean, it becomes a necessity. It’s a business goal for them. But how do you reconcile that with what we discussed so far?
Well, when you are building your brand, when you’re trying to build brand awareness, you have to be on social media. There’s no way around it, you have to be on social media. And when I tell people is, again, remember I just talked about planning, you need to schedule time in your calendar, okay, I’m going to be on social media during this time, or I’m gonna be writing a blog post or I’m gonna be writing an article for like thrive global or something like that. You’ve got to be planning this stuff because if you don’t plan your, your content you’re going to put out or the activities you’re going to do. Guess what’s going to happen? You’re going to pick up your phone and scroll endlessly on social media. You need that social media but you need to be on social media with a plan. And I plan every day, every every wall the night before I plan my day and the night Dave The morning of I review my plan, okay, is this really going to move the needle? Am I really going to achieve my goals and A lot of times I spend time on LinkedIn, that’s my number one platform, or maybe working on my podcasts or creating a video. It’s always about how I can help people become more productive in our distracted world. And I always I’m very careful my time because I know you’re going to find this very shocking news. But we all everyone has 24 hours a day, everyone, and you get to choose, even if you go to work, you get to choose how you spend the 24 hours. And if you choose to waste your time on social media, then you can’t complain about the results you’re not getting because you’re not putting in the work. So when you’re building a business or brand, you do need to be on social media, but I think you need to have a plan. Okay, am I going to go reply to comments? Am I going to post? Am I going to create content like a video or what am I going to do? I’m going to write a blog post for my for my website, you need to have a plan and then you can figure out okay, I tried this last week that didn’t move the needle. Let me try something different. Always be figuring out what can you do next to move the needle?
Got it. And now, you brought up a very good point as well, like you know, you need to plan your day and you need to know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish what will move the needle? So can you give us any specific tactics or strategies people can use? Maybe a framework because there are many frameworks available for this type of work, but I just want to get your take on it. How can people plan better and execute on that?
I think the biggest thing people need to do is figure out what are up to three things you want to accomplish the next day. What I do is I hit always have my planner with me Of course I don’t have it with me for prop but I was in a planner with me and if an idea pops into my head, what I do is I turn the page to my my planner tomorrow and there’s a spot there it says tasks and must be done today. And I write down all I want to do tomorrow. Now I will not get to everything I need to do tomorrow. But then when I sit down my plan I look at my day tomorrow. Okay, I got a podcast interview here radio interview here. I got to do this year, a coaching client here, okay, I got four hours left over, okay? I look over that list and say, Okay, what can I fit in today?
Okay, I can fit these these three, these three things in, the rest of stuff gets moved the next day because you can’t do everything every day. It’s impossible. But I also spend time to read when I found out the high performers like Mark Cuban and Brendon Burchard and Tony Robbins are avid readers. I’m like, hmm, if they read and they’re very successful, I think reading is pretty important. So I actually spend 3060 minutes a day minimum reading books to help me in my career. And I think everybody do that. So I will sit down there, and I will again, there’s stuff already planned, like this interview is already scheduled weeks ago. That’s already on my schedule. So when I looked at my schedule for today, last night, I still get this interviews already there. I had another interview later on today. I’ve got you know, a couple of things already scheduled for weeks, and like okay, how do I fill in the rest of the spots, and then that’s where I I fill in the rest of spots. And then that’s how I get so much done every day. Well a lot of people do is they they have the stuff that’s scheduled like our interview today, what I call a fixed appointment. And then the other four hours they go, Well, I’ll figure something out. No, don’t figure something out. Purposely figure out what you want to do during that time slot. I mean, if you got to walk your dog one today, well, don’t hope you have time cuz I’m pretty sure the pooch wants to go for a walk, schedule a 30 minute chunk that you’ll take the dog for a walk or if you want to go to lunch with friends schedule that don’t just hope you have time because hope is not a strategy. Yeah.
Sure. So in terms of tools, using you mentioned planner, so do you. Do you are you in favour of sort of written handwritten plan or digital devices or calendars?
I love my planner, and I’ve used several of them. Disclaimer, I haven’t used all of them. There’s a billion of them out there. The one I’ve been using For the last months is Brendon Burchard, high performance planner. You can get it on Amazon, it’s like 20 bucks. The one thing I like about his planner is it’s got morning prompts, okay, questions you ask yourself in the morning, and then review for the day. Along the top, it’s got a message to yourself, the top three things you want to do today, other tasks, who do you want to show up big for a place to the planner, and it’s got a place for notes. At the end of the week, you get to review the week at the end of the month, you get to review the month. It’s really important. I love this. So I schedule everything in the planner with my pen with my own handwriting, and then I transfer it to my iPhone. The problem is if you just do it electronically, it doesn’t really resonate between your your fingers and your head. But when you sit there and look at your blank screen, your blank page and you see where the stuffs already, the fixed appointments are what’s going to go where it takes some more brain cells to plan your day. If you just pull out your phone and just like put anything there really doesn’t Like resonate with your brain. So I find it most effective to do it on paper on purpose. And you don’t use Brendon Burchard planner, the one I use and recommend, you can use up a yellow sheet of a yellow pad if you want. But always do that first, and then transfer it to your electronic device.
What about the tasks that maybe you don’t? You did not get done? Maybe there was an external dependency, you know, you needed some resources, which is not available, how do you move it from one day to another?
Again, if I move it one day to another, I actually write it down in my planner first before putting on my electronic calendar. And by the way, you mentioned reminders and stuff, I have a rule that if something takes you longer than five minutes, it should be an event on your calendar. So longer than five minutes goes event on your calendar. And one of the tips I tell people all the time is let’s say you want to read a long article or a long email and you really don’t have time because you know, it’s gonna take about 15 minutes. actually scheduled it on your time. I do this every once while say y’all I’ll put a link to an article I’ll put like read it like two o’clock. And I’ll put the link there. Because if I don’t schedule it, I may not have a 15 minute chunk of time, unless I specifically planned for that. So a lot of people, they have all these emails and all these articles they want to read, and they just got off Sunday, Sunday, Sunday, and then Sunday never comes, put it in your calendar, you can just put it like read or whatever, just intentionally plan it. Because a lot of times, you may get something you want to read, like, Oh my gosh, it’s gonna take me 10 minutes to read, you don’t have time for it? Well, if you don’t plan for it, you’re never going to get to it.
Yeah. And what about the fact that you know, as entrepreneurs as CEOs are people who are in a in a decision making capacity, a lot of the time is actually demanded by other people, right. So, so people need to meet these people get their decisions and and all that. So, as you go higher in my in my experience, you know, you start to lose a little bit of your control on your own. Fine. So can you have? Do you have any recommendations on that? Like, how do you? How do you control your time and make sure that you don’t give too much away to other people and still be more effective in as a leader.
It’s interesting because I just did a video on this not too long ago, and I said to people, you got to stop doing the things you need to do that can be done by other people. So let me say that again, in case people missed it, you gotta stop doing the things you need to do. That can be done by the people. So let’s say you have to create a spreadsheet. But every time you think of creating a spreadsheet, you get a migraine, your neck hurts, you start getting cold sweats. Well, maybe there’s Susie down the down the hallway works in another department. She lives breathes and dreams about spreadsheets.
Well, you can call her and before you even finish asking her she probably goes, I’ll do it because she lights her up. So you need to do the spreadsheet. I’m not saying don’t do this for it. I’m just saying go get someone who can do it. Better than you who really loves it. A lot of people are control freaks, and they want to do everything themselves. They want to have their hand in the cookie jar, they want to do everything. But maybe you’re not the best person. Yes, your job requires you to do it, you have to present that spreadsheet to the board, I get that. Maybe you can give the data to Susie and she could do a remarkably Awesome job for you and make you look really good. I think a lot of people are doing things that they are better off outsourcing or delegate delegating to somebody else.
Yeah, yeah. But okay, so that’s an excellent point. You know, we utilise our time and make more room. But let’s say for example, I’ll give you a concrete example. Right? So when I schedule these podcasts interviews, I have to send out a link to my calendar so that people can sort of see what is their availability, and they can reconcile it with my availability and their schedule the time. So in many cases, it’s it’s all working out because you know, I make sure there are enough slots for the interview. Some cases, you know, if they schedule it at a very odd interval, or it’s very close to another meeting that I am having. So, you know, in some way I, I feel like you know, I’m losing a little bit of a control on my own calendar. That’s what I was pointing out. Do you experience that people have this problem in their lives or is just me?
Know, it’s not just you. One of the things I picked up from Gary Vaynerchuk. I’m pretty sure everybody knows who Gary Vaynerchuk is. He says, everything’s your fault. So don’t don’t point the finger. I remember one time I use a service like you do. And you know, I, I made a mistake, and I didn’t like, I like to have my interview space up by two hours. And I put two of them back the back. That’s my fault. Now what I did is I went to the gas, can we change it? They said, yes, you know, so I take responsibility. If you’re a leader, and you feel like you’re burning the candle at both ends or four runs and you just going crazy. Well, I think the first thing you need to do This is going to be counterintuitive. If you feel so overwhelmed, like everything’s caving in around you what you need to do, take your phone out of your pocket, put it on the desk, walk out of your office, tell your executive assistant, hey, listen, I’ll be back in about 10 minutes go outside. I don’t care if it’s hot or cold.
Don’t stand in the rain. But you know what, nobody else around you. If someone wants come and talk to you say, look, I need some time alone. And I don’t want you thinking about what happened, what is happening, what you’re going to do next. I just want you to close your eyes, I want you to do several deep breaths. And I just want you to be peaceful. Because what happens is, we don’t realise how much our bodies and brains are processing through everything we see. And I give this advice to everyone just to take a five to 10 minute break away from your work area without talking anybody else. Don’t be on your phone. You close your eyes, do couple deep breaths, and then you come back in now you have an all natural energy that is often so effective. That People go, oh my gosh, okay, I find out what I had to do next. Okay, this, I’m going to solve this problem. But what happens is they get frustrated. And then they’re trying to push a rope to get more frustrated, more frustrated, more frustrated, and it just compounds the problem, where if they would have just walked away for 5 – 10 – 15 minutes all alone and taking some deep breaths and close your eyes, they would come back refreshed. But most people go, I’ll get a break when I finished it. Yeah, but you’re you’re causing yourself stress and anxiety. Why don’t you go take a break now? And everyone I’ve given that too many news everyone a given to now one person said, Oh, that didn’t work. They all say, Oh my gosh, I can’t believe how effective that was. So sometimes, when you’re in the battle, sometimes you need to take a break and you take a timeout, put yourself in the penalty box, whatever you phrase you want to use, and just go go brief.
Yeah, that’s cool. And so one last question. You know, this has been quite educational, all the all the things that you have said, Now how do we take it and sort of Bring these strategies into a long term goal. So you know, I think I get the gist of how you plan your day, maybe your week. But now what about your long term goals? What about what I want to do this month? Or maybe even, as you said, like, you know, what does your five term five year goal? How do you how do you take it from that level and sort of have it all aligned, so that you’re working towards your long term goals?
What I think everyone should do is they should get a notepad and some pens and get like a favourite beverage, preferably not alcoholic, go someplace quiet. nobody’s talking, no TV, no music, and just to sit there by yourself and go, Okay, what do I want to accomplish this month, this year, in three years, in five years, and just just write Don’t worry about if it’s crazy or not, just write it down. And then as you get all this stuff written down, what’s going to happen to phase By the way, the first phase you’ll be writing, writing Writing all of a sudden, nothing. This where people make a mistake, the people quit this point. And I say stick with it. Because the ideas are way back in your subconscious mind. If you wait long enough, they’re going to start coming forward like, Oh my gosh, I haven’t thought about that in five years, write everything down. And when you get that the whole exercise done, it may take you 30 minutes may take you an hour, whatever it is, it’s your gift to yourself. Then you go, Okay, what is most important out of all these things I wrote down what is most important? What what what do I want to take action on right now? Because we’re trying to do too much. That’s the problem. I deal with all my clients is overwhelm, we’re trying to do too much. And I’m a big fan of simplicity. I’m like, simplify it. What is the next thing you need to do not the next 50 The next thing and so many people are not worried about the next step. They’re worried about 30 steps down the down the road, but they don’t realise the next step is off a cliff. Okay, well, no worry about the next step. So
I encourage people do the exercise.
Oh, that’s great. Well, thank you so much. much for being with us and sharing your knowledge and wisdom. And I’m sure a lot of people got valuable tips and they can be more productive in their work and personal life. Before I let you go, can you tell us how people can reach out to you?
Yes, the easiest thing people to do it because you’re not going to be able to find Mark Struczewski.com. So I have a redirect Mr. productivity.com. That’s Mr. All spelled out. When you go there, it takes you to my website. You’re welcome. There. When you first go there, there is a thing at the top of my page that says join the seven day productivity challenge. Give me two minutes a day for a week. I’ll give you simple strategies to becoming more productive. While you’re there. You can also apply for a free coaching session with me and you can find out where I’m on social media. Everything is at Mr. productivity. com.
Awesome, great. Make sure that that link is added to the show notes. So thanks again once once again for being with us today. And it’s been a really entertaining and educational episode.
Manuj, Thank you so much for having me on the show was an absolute honour. serve both you and your audience. Thank you.
Great. Thank you so much.
Links And Mentions From This Episode:
· Mark’s Website: http://MisterProductivity.com
· FREE MindSparkers’ Inner Game Mastery Accelerator Series: http://mind.innerget.com
· FREE Startup Founders’ Technology Accelerator Series: http://tech.innerget.com
· TetraNoodle professional training: https://courses.tetranoodle.com