How Shifting Your Mindset Can Boost Your Productivity

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Marketing Podcast with Clare Kumar

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Clare Kumar. Clare helps busy professionals optimize their performance. She’s a media contributor on productivity, organization, and work-life integration.

Key Takeaway:

People are busy, and that’s applicable across every and all job roles — entrepreneurs, business professionals, employees, stay-at-home parents, consultants, you name it, we’re busy.

Clare Kumar works directly with people and professionals helping them optimize their performance and work-life integration. In this episode, Clare shares how to shift your mindset in a way that will help you build habits that last and boost your productivity.

Questions I ask Clare Kumar:

  • [1:14] Does optimizing your performance come down to hacks and habits?
  • [2:33] What are some of the big productivity killers, and how do people get bad habits?
  • [4:10] What’s the best strategy when it comes to technology distracting with productivity?
  • [5:26] What does the process of hiring a coach to help you become more productive look like?
  • [6:47] Are there some common almost “template” type approaches for how you would plan your day?
  • [11:05] In your bio, you mention you love science and that that love has helped lead your role today — would you dive into how that has helped you?
  • [12:22] What are some of the surprising benefits that you find that come from somebody feeling more productive? And have you discovered some of these benefits to be universal?
  • [13:45] What’s the solution for trying to get some sense of normalcy back into rituals when you’re caught up in a world that has experienced so much rapid change?
  • [15:24] How has 2020 changed your work?
  • [17:55] What are a handful of your best productivity tips for 2021?
  • [20:09] Where can people find out more about you and your work?

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John Jantsch (00:00): This episode of the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by the MarTech podcast, hosted by my friend, Ben Shapiro, brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network with episodes you can listen to in under 30 minutes, the MarTech podcast shares stories from world class marketers who use technology to generate growth and achieve big business and career success. Recent episode, one of my favorite extending the lifetime value of your customer. You know, I love to talk about that. Listen to the MarTech podcast, wherever you get your podcast.

John Jantsch (00:44): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Clare Kumar. She helps busy professionals optimize their performance. She is a media contributor on productivity organization and work life integrations. So I guess we're gonna talk about some pretty awesome stuff today. Welcome Clare.

Clare Kumar (01:05): Thank you. It seems to be universally relevant, whether you're an employee or an entrepreneur. I, I talk to both kinds of situations.

John Jantsch (01:14): So I, I see a lot of, of, you know, people writing about talking about speaking about the, this topic, and it seems like it comes down to a lot of hacks and habits. Would you say that that is accurate or is that, uh, really just a very short way to, to, uh, try to describe a very, a much more complex process?

Clare Kumar (01:33): Well, I think to, to land on the right habits, take some work and, and sometimes we're not there yet because we have to do some mindset shifting mm-hmm right. And, uh, beyond habits, I like to elevate them to rituals. And the re the reason I choose ritual is because I think it brings a sense of honor to what we're doing, what we're choosing to do, rather than feeling like, oh, I should do this, or I should do that. I like to up level the whole rhetoric around

John Jantsch (01:58): It. Yeah. So, so people should be in the new year, depending upon when you're listening to this, I'm going to take up a weight loss, ritual, Uhhuh. it sounds great. It just makes it sound so, so much kinder. Doesn't it?

Clare Kumar (02:12): Well, I hope so. There should be. I think there's a sense of needs to be a sense of honor in how we're treating ourselves and then the things we do for other people too. So I don't care if it's laundry or managing your CRM of this is all about respecting ourselves and what we can give to the world, and then respecting our clients and, and trying to, to give a service that we can be proud of.

John Jantsch (02:34): So let's start then with what, what are some of the, you know, with regard to productivity, what are some of the biggest productivity killers? I mean, what, what, how do people get bad habits? Right? Oh

Clare Kumar (02:44): My gosh. There's a lot of reasons things go sideways. I mean, a lot of people will point the finger to technology, but I mean, you know, before the electronic age came about, you would've had parents scolding, their kids were having their nose in a book for too long. So we're, we always have an appetite for other information. We're curious beings. Right? And so the, the challenge with technology though, is we've never had, we never had books kind of knock on our consciousness and say, Hey, Hey, come back to me right now. We have technology that's designed to be intrusive. I think when I just signed up for, you know, a squad, what we're on here? Do you wanna allow notifications? No, no, I don't. Do you wanted them to know where I am? No. yeah. Yeah. So I think one of the biggest things we can do to be effective in, in holding true to priorities, which takes some work all in its own to set are set some boundaries about what comes in and doing our best to gracefully defend those boundaries, uh, is, is an art.

John Jantsch (03:47): Yeah. And, and I just, just this morning, my wife and I were having coffee sitting around chatting, and she said, oh, will you order this thing on Amazon then? And like 25 minutes later, I was like, oh, were we still here talking because, I mean, it just, it, it sucks you in, I was, it was something that took me about a minute because Amazon makes it so easy to do, you know, turned into a 20 minute thing. And I think that, I mean, is the answer to just find ways to limit our access to this technology is like a drug.

Clare Kumar (04:17): There's a couple of strategies. I think one is to be very intentional about when you wait in the other is to interrupt yourself because it is designed to pull you in, look at Forbes as a, as a communication and news channel, the number of popups. And they're interrupting their own article with a hope to derail you and just keep you on the page longer. And so you have to be, you have, it's like, like anybody older knows you go into another room and you forget why you got there. You change, you go into a new browser window. You're like, why did I come here in the first place? Right. And there could have been an intention. Yeah. It's to maybe even write that intention down to give yourself a reminder to say I was here to actually answer the question that somebody sent out my business and Facebook, not to look at the latest notification, which is where your eyes designed to go. Cuz there's a little like icon reminding you. There's something new for you there. And it's like candy and it could be a good dopamine hit, right? Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

John Jantsch (05:15): So, so you all know get hired by individuals or to, to, or you coach individuals as well as teams. I mean, do you have a bit of a like intervention sort of mode that, that you start with? Kinda what, what does that process look like? If when you hire a coach to help you, uh, be more productive?

Clare Kumar (05:32): I it's a good question because a lot of people will bring me in and they wanna talk symptoms right away. Yeah. And I do because I, I meet the client where they are and we dive into whatever's pressing, I think that's really important. But what often happens is we have deeper discussions and then I learn about the context of their business environment, perhaps their physical space, perhaps what's happening at home. And that whole work life integration piece actually comes to bear. So the last client I worked with just said, I'm not, I'm not getting the right things done at work. I'm not yet. I'm, I'm not getting enough done in a day. I that's a big comment. I don't, I feel like I've been busy yet. I don't have anything to show for it. Yeah. And so ultimately we ended up going backwards and I combined aspects, I com combine all the productivity knowledge and, and best practices that I've studied and bring that to bear. I also take some performance aspects. So weight loss, sleep movement, all of that, that has a lot to bear in making sure you show up at your best to be able to contribute. And then any executive we'll understand life coaching as a piece as well, and how you sculpt your life is really important. And I like the word sculpt because it's as much as what you add as what you might need to take away. Yeah.

John Jantsch (06:48): So, so do you have some routines that, and, and obviously, I, I suspect at least you try to get people to individualize their approach, but are there some just kind of almost templates for how you would plan your day, you know, how you would start your day that they were gonna get you going? Right.

Clare Kumar (07:04): Well, there's a few things that I think need to be anchors in the day, and I won't tell you where you should place them. Right. But I do recommend one. And if you can, two 90 minute sessions to allow deep work. So these are focus, periods of work where the, the, the barriers are up, the notifications are off your phone is on silent. There's a sign on your door that says, don't disturb me unless you're bleeding. Like, there's, there's some very clear indications. And if you're working with a team, you've let your team know these are my protected hours. Yeah. And after that I'm available and I have open office hours and I want to be engaging with you. So I think the 24 7 availability always on has been, is totally eroded the fact that we need to preserve our ability to get as Cal Newport would say deep work

John Jantsch (07:53): Done. Yeah. Yeah. So to, to me, it almost comes out well, I'm my, I am my most productive when I set and evaluate priorities. Yeah. Because, you know, I have, for years made my list every day of all the things I wanna do. And it's really easy. Oh, it's like, I'm gonna do those three because I can do those easy, no sweat. Right. And, but they're, but they're important too. So, but when I come in and I say, you know what, I'm only writing three things that, and if I get those three things done, you know, I've had a great day and, and, but again, I, you know, that takes discipline because a lot of times those things that are important, maybe aren't that fun.

Clare Kumar (08:33): True. And we are, we are compelled by our interest. Yeah. Right. So one of the things I like to do there's so there's two parts to answer to that question. The first one is I like to up level our interest in the things that don't feel fun. Yeah. Yeah. And so if it it's either, sometimes if we're procrastinating, it's because it's too complex and we need to figure out how to break it down, just to know where to start, to get comfortable with that, then know the next first best step. And then the other piece is if it's boring. Yeah. How do you add some energy to it, through playing a music track in the background to setting yourself a timer, to finding an accountability partner, to go, okay, I'm working on something boring. You're working on something boring too. Oh, let's see how much we can get done. And we'll check back 15 minutes. So there's some tricks to do that. The other thing though, is to, is to sort of see if you can reframe it to be something again, that, that you understand the, why, the connection to why this is important, then you can up level your commitment to it.

John Jantsch (09:31): Yeah. I find when I have a long project that working on a book, something I do, uh, I kind of go into a very loose podo, um, method, you know, the 25 minutes and then my timer goes off and , and then I take a break and it, it does. I find that that really helps. I don't find that that works on a normal day, but it really helps me when I know I've got six, seven hour stretch to do.

Clare Kumar (09:54): That's neat. So, yeah, I think it's an interesting one to play with. Yeah. It's 25 minutes. And then, and then a break, uh, I worry if it's something like writing and you need longer than 25 minutes or you're in some really juicy stuff that it might pull you out. So yeah. Use it, use it when it's gonna serve you for sure. That's that that's powerful.

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John Jantsch (11:05): So in preparing for this, um, interview, I took a look at your bio and you point to a love of science, uh, as leading you to this place. So help me understand that.

Clare Kumar (11:15): Well, I, I, I, my undergrad a degree was a, a bachelor of science in biology. And after high school, I, I, I kind of loved languages. I loved, I loved a lot of different topics, but science was the one that pulled me forward biology in particular. And of course after biology, I realized I wasn't going to med school and I wasn't going to be teaching in a typical teaching environment. I find that that's what I'm doing a lot of now. And I wasn't gonna work in a lab cuz I like people too much. And so then I studied business and I fell in love with business and marketing. So it's taken me actually a long while to circle back to science. But I find now when I'm sharing the best practices around focus or distraction or self discipline, there's a lot of science that I draw. And I mean, the fact that you can be more productive after taking a walk outside in nature than if you sat at your desk, the fact that like videos of kittens actually does something good to the brain is kind of fun to find out .

John Jantsch (12:12): So, so when you get somebody to, to maybe change some of the things that are holding them back, get them to be more productive. What are some of the surprising benefits that, that you find that come from somebody feeling more productive because it's, it's not just about getting the work done. I think that not getting the work done causes a lot of stress for some people. So have you, have you discovered some, some benefits that seem to be universal?

Clare Kumar (12:40): Well, I think it's pervasive, it's beyond the work because if you can feel productive at work and, and sort of just take some joy in that there's an upleveling of satisfaction that spills over then into your personal life, the ability to set boundaries at work and, and, and get things done in the container has saved marriages, you know, and, and built family lives that people are no, no longer regretting. So I think, I think that's probably the most profound piece for me is if somebody can, can sculpt the work life that they want, that it's a big piece of the actual whole life that they want and they can give attention to the other important areas of life, which can often be overlooked.

John Jantsch (13:23): So I'm a kind of a creature of habit. I have a lot of rituals that I do all the time. In fact, I sometimes have to push myself out of them because I can be too ritualistic, but everybody's routine got really shaken up this year. A lot of people never worked at home are now working at home and they've never homeschooled. And they're now doing that too. So what is that really? I mean, what, what's sort of the medicine now, you know, for trying to get some sense of normalcy back in that cyclone.

Clare Kumar (13:53): Yeah. Well, you hit on in March when this hit. I thought, my gosh, I've been working from home for about 20 years and coaching people on this. So how about I take the two things and on my website right now is a lot of free information. If you just look @, and there's a lot of free information there, interviews and so on and a free download that talks exactly to that question. But I, what I wanna summarize it in is to say that I want you to think about having a home team, right? And so we've got work teams. We, we hear about that all the time, but you have a home team and you've, you wanna get on the same page about the experience you're trying to create as a family and what your vision for this experie is that you're gonna get through together.

Clare Kumar (14:36): Then I want you to look, get the capability. And if you've got kids, those capabilities are changing. Like every few months they can do more and more and more, right? So capability look at capacity and that's, everybody's ability to take on different things. That's gonna be affected by the amount of stress that they're under and other, whatever else happens, right. Because life keeps happening no matter, no matter what. Yeah. And you look at all that before you choose commitments. And when you take on those commitments, you look at them as a team and say, how do we tackle this?

John Jantsch (15:06): Yeah. And I'm, I'm sure that that some people have had to just realize they have to let, to go some things right now. not try to, you know, do it all right now because it's, there's only so much,

John Jantsch (15:16): Right.

Clare Kumar (15:17): Yeah. I talk about like extreme sport. Um, the only one I play is extreme self-compassion yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,

John Jantsch (15:23): Yeah. So how has 2020 changed or, or maybe you've hinted that it hasn't that much has, has 2020 changed the way you work?

Clare Kumar (15:34): It has a little bit, because I used to go to corporate locations to do speeches in person. And there is certainly a lot of energy that comes back from working with people in present. So I've, uh, taken my business online. Um, my media tours are now online. I do all my TV segment is here from my, from my desk, which is pretty great. And incorporate B roll. So I'm, I'm becoming more of an AV team producer as well. Like any, any speaker or presenter is yeah, so that's changed, but it's also been up leveled my interest and understanding of how to get this kind of connection and how to foster that with people in, in a virtual space. So I come back feeling fulfilled after a work. And I much prefer a workshop environment where I'm talking to people still, rather than a webinar, which is the monologue. So I'm all about conversation. That's, that's my preferred method of, of doing anything .

John Jantsch (16:28): So we talked to a little bit about what people have had do, because they're forced into, you know, a different situation. Uh, a lot of those people let's hope are going to go back to what you know was in office. what should they take back with them? What did they learn this year? Or what do you hope they learned this year that they actually take back with them and, and incorporate into maybe what they've

New Speaker (16:52): Been doing?

Clare Kumar (16:53): Well, I hope that it's given everybody an opportunity to take some time to reflect on what's important. I mean, I love Greg, McCowen's the title of his book essentialism, and that was my word for 2020. It's all of a sudden, you have to get clear on what's really critical and critically important. We've just gone down into super down. It's starting on the after Christmas here. And all of a sudden you're like, well, what's essential. And, and so we have to know what that is. And I think to know what that is, it, it requires, and this is why I loved your book too. The self-reliant entrepreneur, this that we don't pause enough. We don't stop and actually tune in before we're invited to lean in. And so I think we can be much more effective. I mean, I talk about the biggest productivity gap is if you actually wanna be over here, but all your energy is taking you in the other opposite direction, right? So that is the biggest productivity thief there is.

John Jantsch (17:50): So I'm gonna let you close out with two things. What are, what are a handful can be two, can be three of your best productivity tips for 2021. And then of course tell us, uh, where people can find out more about you and your work.

Clare Kumar (18:05): Oh, thank you. Well, one of the things that in coaching hundreds of people over the past few years, that I think is often missing, is making appointments with oneself yeah. In their calendar, right? So we make appointments with everybody else. But when we look at, I call it a daily roadmap, that's going to guide you through your day. And that focus five of, of top five things to do in the day will be what you do imminently. But having that roadmap, it also serves as your journal. If you're, if you are honest about whether you did go to the gym or whether you did have a, a, a book writing session or whether you did meet your targets, you, and if you color it, you really have a, a very quickly quick to understand both plan and record of what you've done. So that I think one of the, one of the things that people, if they haven't done it is game changing for a lot of people.

Clare Kumar (18:55): So Cal you mentioned Cal Newport. He has a, a, a new planner, uh, daily planner, uh, that's based on, on deep work. And one of the things that, that I've done for a long time that I, I know he's really talked about forever is, is playing your week. Not just, you know, your days, especially if, you know, you're trying to think, oh, I, I have this thing on Thursday. I better spend some time thinking about it on Wednesday kind of thing. And that's, that's been really meaningful for me. I know.

Clare Kumar (19:23): Yeah. The week is a long enough timeframe to fit in all the different areas of life and, and the different projects you're working on too. And it, so I, I have, there's a piece of work and an ebook I have called the lifetime management playbook. So instead of time management, mm-hmm, , I like to think of lifetime management. So we're taking this bird's eye view of, of how we're planning things. And definitely it's thinking about time and chunks of a week. So you get your exercise in you're ma you're nurturing your relationships. You're making sure you have time to play. You're developing as a person. There are different aspects that you, I think you need to have as a fulfilled person. And if we think about them over a week, it it's extremely powerful. I will have to check out Cal planner. That sounds great.

John Jantsch (20:08): And, and then tell us where people could find out more about your work and maybe acquire this ebook that

John Jantsch (20:14): You've referenced.

Clare Kumar (20:15): Thank you. So it's, it's Clare And just so you get Clare, right? There's no third eye. So it's, uh, C L a R E, and Kumar is like Harold and Kumar. K U M a R. So and there is a product X page and the ebook is there. And you'll also see a bit of an outline of the book that I'm 45,000 words into. And John, after our discussion, uh, a few days ago, I'm really motivated to turn this into three, many books actually, so that the productivity methodology gets out there and people can start benefiting from all that too.

John Jantsch (20:50): Awesome. So we'll put a link in the show notes and Clare, thanks so much for stopping by, and hopefully we'll, uh, run into you next time. I'm in Toronto and we're all out on the road again.

Clare Kumar (21:01): Yeah. Let's hope so hope it's not too far

Clare Kumar (21:03): Away.

John Jantsch (21:03): All right. So that wraps up another episode. I wanna thank you so much for tuning in and, you know, we love those reviews and comments. And just generally tell me what you think also did you know that you could offer the duct tape marketing system, our system to your clients, and build a complete marketing consulting coaching business, or maybe level up an agency with some additional services. That's a right check out the duct tape marketing consultant network. You can find it at and just scroll down a little and find that offer our system to your client's tab.

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