How to Have a Productive Mindset - Mridu Parikh

mindset productivity May 27, 2021
Mark Struczewski, Mridu Parikh

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Mridu Parikh helps professionals get control of their demands and distractions so they wake up with a plan, have 1-3 more hours a day, and feel less overwhelmed.

Mark Struczewski
Mridu Parikh, welcome to the show.

Mridu Parikh
Mark, you know that I'm so excited to be here.

Mark Struczewski
I was telling Mridu before we started that with a name like Struczewski, I'm really, really cognizant of getting people's names correct. So...

Mridu Parikh
I'm the same way given my name, I think you and I are in the same boat.

Mark Struczewski
Excellent. So you and I are both in the productivity space, which I love. Because you got here early, as most productivity people I know do. On-time is late in our vernacular.

Mridu Parikh
Yeah, which is really funny because my husband is more than five to 10 minutes late everywhere. And so it is constant tension with us.

Mark Struczewski
Oh, my, my, my wife is the same way. She's like, 10 o'clock, we're gonna make it. No, we're not gonna make it, we're gonna be pulling into the parking lot at 10 o'clock. Okay, we should be in the room by 9:55. So I'm glad you and I are on the same wavelength on that. So how long have you been in the productivity game?

Mridu Parikh
I've been actually in the productivity space, I guess 10 or 11 years. But really, to be honest, I started in the organization space. I started as a photo/video organizer, and then a professional organizer. And officially about five years ago, I moved to the productivity coaching world. But you know, I think in organizing, you have to be productive. Anyway, it's part of that lifestyle as well. So anywhere from five to 10 years, however, you want to look at it.

Mark Struczewski
Yeah. And you know, I'll be completely honest, if you've never listened to my show before, listener, welcome, glad you're here. And if you listen all the time, thank you for your continued support. I share the story that when I first got into productivity, and I officially hung my shingle out, markstruczewski.com, in January 2011. And I naively thought it was just calendar apps, and to-do lists. And that's what I thought it was, the more I studied productivity, I learned a good expert is a student first. I'm like, wow, there is so much more to productivity. And now I'm really focusing on overwhelm. Because people come to me and probably come to you. And their to-do list is, well forget it, it's so long, you're never gonna get through it this lifetime. Or they're like, I don't have enough time. Or I'm frustrated because my health and wellness are out of balance. Everything is pretty much under the productivity umbrella. Would you agree with that?

Mridu Parikh
I absolutely do. And I think overwhelm might have been the most common word during the pandemic, right? It was like that. That was like the word of the year, the word of the 18 months. And, yeah, just exacerbated the overwhelm. Everyone was already feeling now they're at home, they might have kids or not, you know, people are sick. So it is really, I feel like it's an epidemic, honestly, right now, like an epidemic, it's going on. And it just, it's, it's hard to just pull yourselves back and to get back almost to the basics and simplifying and focusing on what's really, truly important to you, whether it's professionally or personally, you know, it's just getting back to that is a struggle.

Mark Struczewski
Yeah, overwhelm was a big issue before the pandemic and the pandemic just magnified it because I think what people don't understand is everybody on this planet has 24 hours in a day. And you need to go about your day, very intentionally. Okay, I don't care if you're just going to binge-watch a TV show on Netflix all day on a Saturday. You need to say, okay, consciously, I know, I am going to watch TV all day today. The problem is, people don't think about that. They just watch one show after another after another after another. And then they don't feel good. But if you say look, I worked hard this week, and I am going to just chill out and binge-watch Netflix all day on Saturday. I think that's okay. Unless you do it, like every day or every weekend. But if you just want to give yourself a break, that's okay. But people are not doing it proactively, consciously. They're doing it because well, it's Saturday, what else am I gonna do? And then they go down the rabbit hole. What say you?

Mridu Parikh
Couldn't agree more. It's like we've lost the mindfulness or the intentionality of what it is that we've set out to do. And I think that ultimately, productivity is a tool to get the most out of your life. And you're right, and that could be I just want to binge-watch TV today. Or it could be I want to, you know, throw myself into this podcast or some other project. I mean, there's no right or wrong. It's more like what are you being deliberate about? And how does that align to what you actually want to get done that day, or that moment, that day, that week? And when you can tie that back like that goal and being intentional about it and then do it, it feels successful whether it's on the couch or you know, running a marathon, you always end up feeling successful.

Mark Struczewski
Now, this episode came out on May 27, 2021. We recorded this yesterday because I'm one of these loons that records an episode and releases the next day. One of the things I've been really talking about lately, the last couple of weeks is ambient noise as a distraction. People don't stop and think about if you're writing a blog post, or you're writing your book, or you're trying to create your course, and you hear a dog barking, or the FedEx truck goes by, or water is dripping in the room or the lawn guy for your neighbor. That's ambient noise. And you may go oh, it doesn't bother me, but your subconscious mind, your ears hear that. Like, what's that? What's going on over there? And so what are your thoughts about ambient noise, do you think ambient noise is a pretty big distraction that people aren't even aware of?

Mridu Parikh
Yeah, I think the ways in which we can get distracted again, multiplied tremendously. And everything is a distraction at this point. So noise, people walking in the texts, the beeps, the rings, the emails, the notifications, everything is a distraction. So I believe that we can't use our willpower to try to keep away from it, it's not going to work, right, we all have a little bit of mental willpower, y'all I know that by 10 o'clock, I'm done. Like, you have to really eliminate it. So whatever that means to be in a quiet space, close that window, turn off those notifications, or put on something like rainfall in the background so that you don't hear the other things. You know, there are, there are simple ways that we can take control of our environments. But we don't often and then we fall into this constant reactivity because we're reacting to all of these distractions around us. So I feel again, it's just the intention of being intentional about it. Take control of your environment.

Mark Struczewski
Yeah, reactivity is a productivity killer, when you're just like, Well, whatever, you know, it is what it is. And I disagree with that. I think you got to be proactive, you got to say, okay, I'm going to sit down and work on my project. But there's a noise, maybe your next-door neighbor's getting their lawn cut, well, they're not going to be there all day. So maybe you don't do your deep work, your full focus work then; you say, okay, I want to do some shallow work, as Cal Newport says, then, and then when the guys are done cutting the lawn, then I'll go back to my deep work. But when most people do they're like, well, it's on my schedule. So it doesn't matter what's going on around me, I'm going to try to do it. And the problem is, you're not going to do it very productively, very efficiently. When all you had to do is wait till the lawn guy is done. Some of these ideas that you and I come up with, for our clients are so simple; they want the big majestic hack. And I'm like, I think you get more leverage by doing the small hacks.

Mridu Parikh
Yeah, another one that's really similar to that thinking about the environment is also thinking about your energy. Like, if you've just had a really bad night's sleep, don't try to do that focused, deep work first thing in the morning, like you typically would. Maybe wait till later on, when you get energized and have your coffee or after lunch, you know, like, it's great to plan and I'm a huge planner and a big proponent of planning. But at the same time, we've got to take into consideration what's happening that day at that moment, whether it's the lawn guy, or I haven't slept, or my kid kept me up all night, or whatever it might be, and work with the simple exterior circumstances, whether it's environment or energy, and then work that into your schedule for the day.

Mark Struczewski
It's funny that you mentioned energy because yesterday, I decided to do this thing called time-restricted eating. So my eating window is 10:30 am to 6:30 pm because you're supposed to stop eating three hours before you go to bed. While we're recording this right now, my words are being recorded central time at 10:10 am. So I'm kind of like Oh, as soon as this podcast is done. I want to go eat something because I'm at the end of my fasting window. But apparently, it's supposed to give you more energy when you get used to it. Have you ever tried time-restricted eating?

Mridu Parikh
I've tried it I have failed miserably. Just because I don't have the willpower. I haven't been able to make it more than a few days. But I've heard I mean everyone who does it swears by it and they say it absolutely does give you more energy and more clarity. I just have not been able to do it yet. How many days are you in?

Mark Struczewski
Oh, this is just the second day. I'm still wet behind the ears. But I'll tell you this much. It's not too hard to skip breakfast. I'm listening to a book right now on Audible. It's called Metabolical by Dr. Lustig. And he talks about everyone hears breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Don't skip it. But do you know who came out with that saying? The guy who created Kellogg's cereal, hmm. And when I heard that, I'm like, What? And so it's really easy for me to get up at six o'clock in the morning. And then go out for my run and stuff like that. My problem is, I can't go to bed hungry. And so a couple of nights ago, I was sitting, there, it was my first day. And it was like three hours after I'd finished eating. And I'm like, I'll just start going to bed. I'm like, you know what, this ain't gonna work. So I went and had a Muscle Milk, which has zero sugar. It's like a lot of protein. I took that, guess it's kind of technically cheating. But it got me through the night. And it's gotten me through to 10:30 today. But my point is, I'm always trying to do hacks on how I can become more productive. I've been sworn off eating out, because the processed foods take up so much energy of your body because you're talking about energy. When you eat McDonald's, or Burger King, or Wendy's or Pizza Hut or Dominos, your body's got to work so hard to process all that "food" which is not real food. And now I'm learning I'm going to try what some doctors I've read have said, eat more whole foods because that's energy for your body. We want to give our bodies energy. When we have energy, we can be more productive. So it all works in a big circle.

Mridu Parikh
Yeah, it's a circle our bodies, our brains, our energy, they all work together, right? It's a very human specimen. I think we can sometimes look at these things very, like secularly. Like just, you know, one piece, but it just it all runs in the circle. And yeah, I couldn't agree more with and I know you and I both talk about things like meditation or yoga, or mindfulness again, I think just that intentionality, giving your body rest, giving the energy and all of that together, creates that whole person, that whole productivity that we're looking for.

Mark Struczewski
And it's funny how you've mentioned mindfulness several times in the show today. And I want to talk about that because here's one of the ways I start my day, I have a Bullet Journal. Now, I've tried many different journals, many different planners, but I like using a plain Bullet Journal because I can take one little line from this planner, and one little line from this planner, and I can put it in my Bullet Journal. But one of the things I ask myself first thing in the morning is what would make today amazing. And why do I share that with you? Listener, it's because I'm consciously, and here's our favorite word again, proactively saying, this is what's gonna make today. awesome. Tony Robbins calls it priming, okay? You want to prime your brain, your psyche, your mindset, it's gonna be a great day. Because if you wake up and are like, Oh, it's time to wake up? Oh, man, I get out of bed and you're complaining about how you had to get up early? Well, what kind of mindset are you going to be in for the day? And how productive do you think you're gonna be that day? If you start out with that mindset, as opposed to having a mindset where, hey, this is gonna be a great day.

Mridu Parikh
Yeah, and I love that first, I love that question. But sometimes, I think someone can hear that and then think, Oh, my gosh, well, amazing would be, I could go hang out with my friends or I didn't have to work today or go sit at the beach. And that's not you know, it's so much that the little things again, it's those little things that you tell me what your amazing thing is freed up for today are typically, but sometimes it's just, I want to wake up in a really great mood, or I want to wake up full of energy, or I want to take good care of my body today, or I want to connect with someone or be present. And so it doesn't have to be something that's so extraordinary. But it's something that's close to you that makes you feel really good. Would you agree with that?

Mark Struczewski
Yeah, one of the things I wrote on my list today is today's interview with you is going to be awesome. Again, primed. I because I know you're going to show up today, and we're gonna have a great conversation. Sometimes I write Hey, listen, if I don't have any processed foods today, or if I resist the temptation to go to the Domino's or Grubhub, or Uber Eats, I mean, if I don't do that, it's a great day. Okay. So to your point, if it's going to be a great day doesn't mean you solve cancer, doesn't mean that you solve world peace, okay? It doesn't have to be that big, but you need to look at yourself and what would make it a good day or an awesome day for you, not your spouse, or your significant other or your kids or your boss or your friend or your friends on Facebook, what would make it awesome for you? And the thing is, it only takes me like 10 seconds to answer this question. Really, I don't overthink it. I think that's part of the problem. The obstacle for people is they overthink it like, wow, no one's gonna look at this but you. So there's no grading, we're not going to turn these in at the end of the month. So just sit there and gift yourself. I don't think about it. I mean, write it down, there's something magical about writing it down. But to say, what are two or three things that if they happened they would make today, awesome. Prime yourself and get yourself in that positive mindset, which is going to help you be more productive.

Mridu Parikh
I love that. I think that we also don't give ourselves enough credit when things do go well, or we do something I was on a coaching call yesterday with a client. And we always start our calls with successes, I said, well tell me the success you had the last week. And she's like, I just can't think of anything, I can't think of anything. I'm like that is impossible. But anyway, we started talking about other things. And through the conversation, we uncovered some incredible things she did whether it was like, oh, I put up a better boundary, or I said no to temptation or delegated something. And there were so many wins. But it's like we don't even sometimes think of them that like this is this is something I'm doing. That's really awesome. For me, that makes my day really great. We just kind of take it for granted. And so again, back to like proactive and mindfulness. It's like really being aware of the things you are doing well, and what does make you feel really good is only going to, you know, add to that and snowball it.

Mark Struczewski
Let's be honest, you're gonna have way more small wins than big ones. And I'm a proponent of celebrating all the wins. They're all wins. So not just that big client. But hey, did you go all day without having caffeine? That was it? That's one of your goals? Did you go all day without having processed foods? If that's one of your goals, you kind of look at the small goals. And to your point, a lot of people like only the big ones count. No, they all count. Let me tell you something. I'm not as big a sports fan I used to be before COVID. So I think that's one of the blessings of COVID; it's gotten me away from my addiction to sports. But a win is a win. In American football, if you win 3-0, it's a boring game. No one got any points. But guess what? That win still goes in the win column. If you win a Super Bowl, it's a win. If you win a preseason game, it's a win. Now there are different weights on there, obviously. But a wins a win. And I think if your goal was to write 500 words, and you wrote 500 words, that's a win. Too many people are just saying, hey, I didn't have any big wins, well start counting your small wins and realize how awesome you truly are.

Mridu Parikh
Yeah, a group small wins, big wins, wins are wins. You got it? And it's kind of a retraining to be aware of them. And then actually take a moment to say, yeah, that was a winner; that went really well. Like if you can go a whole week and think I didn't do anything really great. Or then you're just not you know, you're just you're too disconnected, I think from what is really important because it's not just getting the gold medal or getting the raise or getting the new client there are so many everyday things in between.

Mark Struczewski
And here's an idea, if you struggle coming up with wins, then I want you to create a reward system for yourself. So you cannot go on Facebook unless you write down three wins. You cannot go watch TV unless you write down five wins and discipline yourself. Because if you have a reward system put in place, I guaran-dang-tee it, you're gonna sit there and you're like, okay, I want to go on Facebook, three wins, boom, you'll knock them out no time, because now you're like, I can't do x unless you write down my three wins. Maybe you need to do that, listener, maybe you need to set that up and say no Netflix unless I write down five wins. You have so many wins in your life, that you are ignoring them because you're only looking at the big ones. That's one of the dangers of looking at the big ones. You ignore and overlook all the small ones which are very powerful.

Mridu Parikh
I think this ties in so much with gratitude as well. I know that's a big practice. That's all the rage and everyone talks about it because it really works. One of the first practices I like to do when I wake up is just thinking what am I grateful for today. That's it. And sometimes it's like the big stuff, my home, I have a relationship but often it's not. Now it's like I just got a really good night's sleep, or I'm waking up next to my husband, or whatever they might be right there that they're everyday gratitude. And I think connecting to that also then ties to your wins. Because if you have gratitude for something, typically it's like what's something I've done right or something that's happened well in my life or you know, there are those small, the small things and they really tie together.

Mark Struczewski
Well, one of the ideas I heard or read someplace I, I don't know where I heard it from. But when you're writing your gratitude journal out, write it as if a future goal has already happened. So let's say you're creating a course. And you're in the process of creating the course you haven't launched it yet. So your goal may be, I'm so thankful that by the end of 2021, I have 150 people on my course, not even launched the course yet, but now you're writing your gratitude as a future sense. What do you think about that?

Mridu Parikh
I absolutely believe in it, you know, you got to be it, you got to feel it in order for it to, to manifest it or for it to become part of your reality. But I think also just part of your brain like you're thinking you're rewiring, the more that you can believe it is, the more likely it will happen. So I'm a big, big believer in that as well.

Mark Struczewski
Of course, that goes back to mindset. Right? Yeah. If you have a negative mindset, because you're always scrolling through Twitter, or watching the news, or hanging around negative people, that's gonna affect your gratitude, your mindset, you know, your goals, your wins. And one of my favorite quotes of all time is by a gentleman named Charlie "Tremendous" Jones. And he used to say, in five years, you'll be the same person you are today, except for the books you read, and the people you meet. Now, take those people you meet, that means social media, blogs, podcasts, TV, who are you letting influence you, because you're being influenced by people all day long, maybe on social media, maybe on other apps, maybe in person, but you got to be really cognizant, there are toxic people around you. I like to use the analogy of Winnie the Pooh, you don't want to hang around Eeyores, we love Eeyores. We want Eeyores to become Winnie the Poohs, Tigger, Piglet, Christopher Robin, but you got to distance yourself from the Eeyores because if you hang around Eeyores, you're going to be an Eeyore.

Mridu Parikh
I think there have been so many blessings of COVID. I know, it was a horrible time for many, but one of the blessings is, was being more cognizant, I guess, of who we were spending time with, and relationships, and connectivity. And I hope that for myself personally, that I keep this that, you know, keep that lesson and take it with me for a long time. Because I know now I really want to connect with people that matter the most to me, I want to maybe not, you know, connect with people who were more like the fluff in my life that didn't really add a lot of meaning. And just make more time and energy and space for the people who really matter to me. So I have already been trying to think of things and ways, making plans and reconnecting with those people that do matter a lot. And I hope that's something that just stays with me. And for everybody you know, who's gone through this period that we walk away with that.

Mark Struczewski
That is so powerful. One of the things I do for every one of my guests, as you know, Mridu, is I do a pre-call. It's not to talk about what's you're an expert in. I want to know if we click, because if I don't feel a connection on the call, if you're condescending. if you just don't have a very good vibrant personality, well, I won't have you on the show, because I understand my listeners', time and attention are so valuable. I want to make sure I bring people on that are going to serve them, but then I'm going to get along with that person. So obviously, you passed the test (spoiler alert) because you had a great personality. People don't want to hang around people that are boring or narcissistic or negative. They don't want it. There's so much of that in the world today. They want to be encouraged. They want to be cheered on. They don't want to be like, well, you know, it could be better. That's why I don't have negative people on my show. Because I want to use this show to empower people to have a better mindset so they can be more productive. And that's one of the ways to do it.

Mridu Parikh
Couldn't agree more I think you know, just being around the right people; it changes too, I think in your life. I was just having this conversation with my husband who just turned 58 so of course, we're all full of wisdom now and we're looking back but you were saying how like the friendships you develop maybe in college at that time you think these are my friends for life, right? That's like they're your bond your forever and 20-30 years later, they could be, and that's wonderful, but often, we evolve, right? I mean, we should be evolving. And people go in different directions. It's not good or bad. But it doesn't mean just because the relationship was amazing at one time that it has to stay that way or will stay that way 30 years later, and so what is it that we're really holding on to? Is it this feeling I should be friends with them because I was a long time ago, or because they're uplifting me and energizing me? And, you know, am I becoming a better person by keeping this relationship? So it is important to sort of just stop and assess and really think through what is the purpose of this relationship in my life? And how is it serving me? And how am I serving that person? You know, it's a two-way street. Of course, too. Am I uplifting them? Am I adding? Am I the right person in their life right now? So your connections are so important; relationships are so important, but just knowing that they will evolve, is, I think this is going to help us all keep better relationships as we get older,

Mark Struczewski
I cringe when people say, yeah, I've had my best friends since nursery school. And I'm like, that's fine if you guys are both heading in the right direction and cheering each other on. But if one of them is like, all they want to be is a gamer, they don't want to go to work, they just want to have parties all the time. That may not be a good influence. So what I encourage everyone to do is to listen to what you just said, and evaluate who's in your inner circle. Now you shouldn't have 150 people, your inner circle, maybe just five or six people in your inner circle, who are cheering you on, as you said, You're cheering them on, I think you need to build strong relationships with people that are going to empower you. I met a lady recently online through another group. And she's an entrepreneur in London, and I'm an entrepreneur here in Houston, Texas. And we click so well that we do a mastermind every week now. Because she's got strengths, I got strengths, I help her, she helps me, and I wasn't looking for someone like that. We just like we just connected and said hey, let's mastermind together and boom, it just happened. And I like it because she doesn't have it all figured out. And I don't have it all figured out; so we make a perfect match. It's like a husband and wife, my wife and I make a perfect match. She's got strengths, I got strengths, and we, you know, meet each other. So I just encourage the listener to evaluate who's in your inner circle? Who needs to go? And then who do you need to replace those people with? If you do the exercise, not once. But on a regular basis, go you know what this person over here, they're draining me, I need to maybe not kick them out of your life, but certainly spend less time with them. I'll give you the final word.

Mridu Parikh
Well, I'd say our audience is probably familiar with the 80/20 rule, you know that 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort. And I'd say that that pertains and applies even to your friendships and your connections, right, you can really say that 20% of those of the people maybe in that in all of your life are the ones that really give you 80% of that happiness and joy and growth. And so, you know, focusing on those may be another way to look at it like these are the ones I really want to harness and grow and evolve with. And so it's just another way to, to use one of those productivity tools and apply it to your personal life as well.

Mark Struczewski
Excellent. So Mridu, where can we go to find out more about you and what you're doing in the world?

Mridu Parikh
I am everywhere; Life is Organized. Online Life is Organized Facebook, Life is Organized, Instagram, Life is Organized, love to connect. I also have a podcast called Productivity on Purpose, which is another great way to connect.

Her website

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