On this episode of The Mark Struczewski Podcast, I'm going to share with you seven of my favorite productivity tools I thought that this would be interesting, maybe informative for you. So you know what I, Mister Productivity, use as productivity tools. These are not in any kind of order. These are just the ones that I use, and certainly not all the tools I use to keep myself productive. At the end of the show, I'm going to tell you how you can reach out to me, and let me know what tools you use. You may have one, two or seven tools that you use that keep you productive, that maybe I'm not aware of. And you could help me become even more productive by sharing your tools with me. And I will share with you how to do that at the end of the show.
So let's just jump right in. Again, these are not in any kind of order but one of my favorite productivity tools is one you're probably very familiar with, Google Calendar. There are so many things I can tell you about why I love Google Calendar and here are just some of the reasons.
Number one, I am a stickler for, this is gonna sound silly maybe to you maybe not, maybe you agree with me, for options with the default event durations. So I'm an Apple guy, I have an iPhone, MacBook, iPad, Apple Watch, the whole nine yards. But I don't like their calendar apps because their default event duration, even today, November 2022, is still one hour. Most other calendars, including Google Calendar give you a plethora of options. For example, Google Calendar, your default event duration can be 15, 20, 30, 45, 60, 90, or 120 minutes. Now, if you use the iOS calendar, and you want a 30 minute appointment, you have to add the event and hit to go change the end time back 30 minutes, which is a pain, because if most of your events are 30 minutes or 45 minutes, Google Calendar makes it super easy.
Another feature I really love about Google Calendar, which I've just recently started using, I've known it was there all along, but I just started using it, is the out of office feature. So I have a calendar that people can get on a call with me a free, no obligation 15 minute discovery call and when I looked at the calendar recently on my iPhone, I noticed that Thanksgiving wasn't blacked out. And I'm like, What is going on right now? It's Thanksgiving. Well, just because it's Thanksgiving doesn't mean that Google Calendar is gonna block that date out. And so I'm like, Well, how can I block the whole day off? And then I realized, Oh, yeah, there's this feature called Out of Office. And so I did that every year for Thanksgiving, every year for Christmas every year for Christmas Eve, every year for New Year's Day. So if you use Google Calendar, and you're not aware of the Out of Office feature, what it does, you just pick a date and say out of office, and it just blocks your whole date off so you don't have to like try to figure out how to put events there that aren't really events just so no one can book on your calendar.
Now this next part is going to seem kind of strange to you. So I will schedule my events, I will use the out of office feature on Google Calendar, but I will not get notifications from Google Calendar. Let me explain. Let's start with the iPhone first of all. There is a Google Calendar app for iPhone but you cannot use travel time. So what I do is I use Google Calendar on my iPhone but the reminders, the notifications you get for the calendar, do not come from Google Calendar, they come from Google calendar on my iOS calendar that makes sense to you? So if I have an event starting at five o'clock in the evening, that notification will come from Apple's iOS calendar, not Google Calendar. I'm still using the Google Calendar app. But I like the notifications that come from Apple's calendar because it has travel time. Now on the Mac there is no Google Calendar app. So if I don't have Chrome up or Brave, which is using the same operating system called chromium, I have no way of getting notifications on my Mac. So I do use the Apple calendar on my Mac, just for the notifications. Hope that makes sense to you.
The second productivity tool I love is iOS reminders. I know there's a lot of to do's/reminders apps out there. But with iOS 15, Apple did a really good job updating the Reminders app, it is very powerful, really robust, very nice layout. And with iOS 16, which they just rolled out recently, you now have access to hashtags and smart lists, I have become addicted to smart lists .Because we always have these folders, you know, for lists and stuff like that. Now, you can have smart lists. So all you have to do when you create a reminder is you just add a hashtag, and it'll go in the right list. It's really kind of nerdy, but I'm a nerdy kind of guy, what can I say? And you can also, if you're not aware of this, use natural language input. So if I want to have a reminder, like, Take the dog for a walk tonight at 6:01pm, it'll just set that time up, I don't have to go pick today, and 6:01 and pm and hit go or select or okay. It just fills it in for me, which is really nice. So if you haven't used iOS reminders in a while, you might want to check it out if you've an iPhone, it's a very well designed app.
Number three, iOS notes. And guessing I'm going to talk about again, yeah, my addiction to hashtags and smart folders. I got rid of Evernote a number of years ago. The iOS Notes app is incredibly robust, well designed. And because it comes with my iOS devices, and I even use it on the Mac, for me, there's no reason to use another app. They both served me very well.
So let's get away from software for a few minutes here, my number four productivity tool I use, and remember, these are not in any kind of order, my iPhone 13 Pro Max. This is one of the best iPhones I've ever purchased because it's got 4k FaceTime and rear facing camera. So I record all my videos for social media on this thing, it is incredible. I got 256 gigabytes of storage because I'm always taking videos and pictures and I can't afford to run out of room. So I love my iPhone 13 Pro Max. I do have big hands so having a bigger phone is very valuable. I have my email programs, my CRM is on there, all my, of course social media apps, everything is on my iPhone, and I absolutely love it. But I can tell you when I got it, I don't remember when I got it, several months ago, and I thought it was huge. I've been using it so much that now it's like kind of small. Can they make something bigger? I don't know.
Okay, number five, my MacBook Pro. I do have the October 2021 MacBook Pro with the M1 chip, I was using a 2017 iMac, I'm sorry, 2014, even older than that, a 2014 iMac and that thing was slow, like a snail would be passing this thing up. I mean, you turn it on, you might as well go take a nap and then run a marathon and maybe, maybe it will be fully updated, and everything ready to work. But when you go to click on an icon, well, then you'd have to go get lunch and then come back. So then I went out and purchased a brand new MacBook Pro with the M1 chip. Lightning fast, incredible, incredible machine. I opted to get one terabyte of storage, which, now that I think about is kind of crazy because I keep everything in the cloud, unless I'm working on it at that moment. And the reason why I do this is because if the computer should die, I don't have anything on my computer that I need. It's all up in the clouds. I know some people don't trust the cloud, and then their computer dies and I'm like, Rut roh, too late. So whenever I have to take my Mac into a service, like recently I spilled some Diet Coke on it, fortunately there's no damage on it, they go Well back it up, and I'm like, I don't have to because everything's in the cloud. No worries there.
All right, I think we're up to number six now. We're back to software. I love music. A lot of people don't think music is a productivity tool. I do. There's two services I love to use number one, Apple Music. Again, I'm an Apple fanboy. I have everything Apple in my house, and I love Apple Music. And I love, I can listen to instrumental, I can listen to soundscapes, I can listen to what I call writing music. This is like a lot of the music you hear in the movies, not with the words, but the instrumental music. And you have a whole bunch of music on there. So my friends will ask me, Why don't I go on Spotify? I'm like, There's nothing I want to listen to that's not on Apple Music so I stick with Apple Music. But if I really want to focus, there's an app called Focus at Will. It's scientifically chosen music to help you really focus. So if I need to drown out like the lawn guy is cutting a neighbor's lawn, and I really need to focus on content, blog post, podcast episode, whatever I'm working on, I will listen to Focus at Will, because the music the instrumental is very soothing, and really helps me focus.
And the seven productivity tool I use, which is not really a tool, but in my world it is. its Breaks. So whenever you are beginning, this is very key, beginning to feel overwhelmed, stressed, frustrated, any negative motion, you need to get up from wherever you're working, you need to take a walk outside, don't get on any device. If it's cold, grab a jacket, if it's hot stand, in the shade. If it's thundering and lightning, don't hold a pole out in the middle of the field. But don't be on a device. Don't talk to anybody. Don't think about anything, just close your eyes and take several deep breaths. This helps me regain my ability to focus, my ability to concentrate, my ability to be productive. And these breaks, I call micro breaks, only lasts three to seven minutes, then I go back and I have a refreshed, renewed sense of energy to get the project or task them working on done.