What you will learn
Today, Mark and I answer a reader question that has been asked several times : how do you structure your day when you don’t have a job?
How do you make the most out of your working hours?
How do you stay motivated?
What are some tricks to stay organised when you have no structure?
We answer all these questions in the audio and open up a bit more about our personal lives.
Welcome to the Authority Hacker podcast, the place to learn field tested, no BS tactics to grow hack your online business, and finally, live life on your own terms. Now, your hosts, Gael and Mark.
Gael: Hey guys, welcome to the Authority Hacker podcast, today I have Mark with me, how is it going Mark?
Mark: Hey, going great.
Gael: Cool. Today we are going to do something a little bit different. It’s something we are going to start doing more regularly, and that is picking a topic based on something you guys asked us. And so, today’s topic is Andreas Eiden, our Authority Hacker pro group asked, but you don’t have to be in Authority Hacker pro group to ask, and he asked, “I’d love to hear about a day in life of successful internet marketer, such as stuff like do you work at regular hours, or do you structure your day similarly to nine to five or completely differently? Do you have an alarm clock in the morning or do you even bother with that? Do you miss the office? How do you cope with the ups and downs of the business? How do you explain your job to people, and do you think you would be doing this in five, ten, twenty years.”
Mark: That’s actually five or six questions.
Gael: Yes, so that is going to be five podcasts; no, I’m kidding, it’s just this one. But if you guys want to ask us something, ask us for topic of the podcast, you can actually go on authorityhacker.com/ask and we will be picking the best ones and making podcasts about that.
Mark: And it doesn’t have to be a topic which will cover a whole podcast, we might do a podcast where we answer ten or twenty smaller questions as well. So really, you can ask us absolutely anything about internet marketing, the tools we use.
Gael: Health Ambition. A lot of people have questions about that.
Mark: Yeah, email marketing, even like travel lifestyle, money, psychology, or our favorite beer, that kind of stuff, anything.
Gael: We might lose some audience there. But anyway, actually talking about the email marketing stuff, just before we get started, I have actually checked and on the Authority Hacker blog, someone followed the same structure that we used in emailing a promo every day, someone called Kari, and he increased his revenue by 400% just by emailing every day, so good job Kari and happy to see it works for other people. But, let’s just jump into Andreas questions first, and I am going to let you start first, Mark, so I guess the first question is like how does your schedule work overall?
Mark: I try to establish some sort of routine, basically. I have always done this, I’m just like a routine kind of person even though I really dislike the whole sort of nine to five office job thing, it works for me. A typical day for me is I’ll get up somewhere between 9 and 11 a.m. I’m really not a morning person, I hardly get any work done in the morning, or the first half of the day. And I’ll stay up until 2 a.m. something like that, I’m trying to get around eight hours of sleep at night, I like to sleep a lot as well. And yes, I do set my alarm in the morning, though I tend to always wake up ten minutes before it for some strange reason. I don’t know why. Yeah, I try to work Mondays to Fridays and keep my weekends free, but I never really switch off, like I still check emails every day, the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is check my phone which is next to my bed, look at emails, I know that’s like a bad thing in man sort of productivity circles, but it just, this is the system that works.
Gael: A lot of people say you should do it, web people do.
Mark: Exactly. Probably about one weekend in three I’ll have stuff to do, so I end up working one of those days anyway. And, yeah, I do try to be a bit flexible in the summer, some days if it’s really nice or I’m having a bad day I’ll just stop working and go out and then work in the Sunday instead, or something like that, but in general-
Gael: Or if there is a beer festival in Budapest or something.
Mark: Yeah, exactly. But in general, I try and keep a five day work week, as well. Yeah, how about you?
Gael: The funny thing is, it’s funny because if people knew me when we started out agency, and you probably remember that, but some day I was waking up at eleven p.m. and I was starting to work, I was going out first and I was coming back, I was sobering up and then I was starting to work. My life is way more structured these days, believe it or not, I actually wake up at 8 a.m. most days, sometimes as early as seven am actually. But I actually take time for me till nine am, so I don’t rush it, I take breakfast, I watch the news, I follow the news a lot, I take shower, I drink a lot of protein smoothies in the morning so I go put everything together; I catch up on some emails as well sometimes, we make a lot of sales at night, and checking the stats from the day before, a lot of stuff doesn’t show up at midnight so kind of catching up until 9, 9.15, then I usually do my email and urgent stuff until 10.30 then I actually go out for a walk between 30 minutes to one hour, and just think about stuff, and usually, I add stuff to my to do list as well doing that time. So I’m on my phone when I walk around, and Budapest has a lot of parks and I live like five minutes from the parliament next to the Danube and stuff, so it’s really nice. So I actually take quite a bit of time to think about stuff. Then after that, I basically come back, work for an hour then eat for 30 minutes then work until 8 or 9 p.m. So, pretty long straight, but that’s okay, I kind of alternate brain intensive activities with low to not too brain intensive activities. Then around 8, 9 p.m. I either have just dinner at home or I go the gym, I go to the gym every two days, and after if it’s not a gym day then I would work from 10 to 12 on kind of like secondary projects, like things I should not be doing right now but I kind of do them so that prevents me from being distracted during the day. And then I go to bed, around 12. And usually the weekends are completely off. I don’t answer any email usually, I kind of see them coming but I just snooze them, and I get back to them on Monday. I think it’s just good to kind of like set the limit that you are not going to be answering on a weekend. Sometimes I answer, sometimes I don’t. And when I don’t feel like it I just get out and catch up when my girlfriend goes for shopping on Saturday afternoon and I just don’t want to go, I’d rather work, so I catch up then.
Mark: I tend to have my day kind of, it starts very similar to yours aside from the walk, I didn’t know you did that actually.
Gael: If you check my Google fit I actually walk seven to ten kilometers per day on average.
Mark: I tend to start off with wake up, have a shower, get breakfast, that whole process takes usually an hour, probably more even, and then I have my YouTube video or YouTube channels that I watch, while I am having breakfast, I try to start a day by getting basically all this distracting work out of the way, so that’s any admin related thing, emails, anything like doing our accounting, just stuff that’s going to occupy my thought space, and also I like to do lots of little tasks, to start with because it seems to like checking them off my to do list for the day, gives me that dopamine rush or whatever, it feels like I am actually accomplishing something. Even though it’s like one of the tasks might be book a haircut, and it takes literally 30 seconds.
Gael: Amazing. The world is a better place where you get a haircut.
Mark: And then, throughout the day, I build up to bigger and bigger tasks, I usually go to gym late afternoon, like three o’clock, something like that just because it’s quiet then; fortunately now I live right across the street so it only takes an hour including having a shower and stuff. Come back, do some more work, have dinner and then I actually have each day I normally have one big thing to do, so a piece of work that might take several hours, it’s a very big task, or part of even bigger one, and I’ll do that always in the evening. Usually I like to think I probably start that at 7.30 p.m. but probably, more realistically, it’s 9, 9.30 in the evening before I even start that and I work all the way through until two. And that’s when I like do I would say 80% of my work, in that time, after dinner, which is really weird and I know no one else or very few people seem to work that way, but I’ve just always gotten things done better at night, I don’t know why that is.
Gael: Yeah, another thing for me is anything creative I need to brainstorm ideas for courses and stuff like that, for even content, for these 5,000 words blog post we are doing and so on. Everything needs to be done before eleven am for me, it’s like I cannot do that after eleven am.
Gael: Yeah. I don’t even try anymore, I just push it back to next day. These kind of stuff is when my head is clear, I don’t know, there is something with getting out of bed, it’s like man, I take a lot of vitamins and stuff and so on, it just gets all together around 10.30 a.m. and I have like a two hour window maximum to get it done. Otherwise, I’m just going to try the next day, I don’t even try anymore.
Mark: You mentioned when you are out walking you add stuff to your to do list; what do you actually use?
Gael: Asana. So I have a project called “inbox” it’s like getting things done by David Evan system. So I just write stuff quickly on my phone. Then when I come back I just open it and I just put in the right project, put deadlines on it etc. And I kind of arrange the rest of my day, when I actually do the important stuff, so usually when I actually do creative stuff when I brainstorm, I would walk until 11.30, 12, and do the work after, kind of organize everything I have to do after, and after when I come back eat and then just do the work until 8 or 9 p.m.
Mark: So do you then, is what you are doing throughout the day driven by what you see on your Asana to do list?
Gael: I mean, yeah, actually I don’t answer to emergency at all, I believe that it’s nothing is really an emergency in what we do, unless the site is down really. And, in the long run, it’s better to push back answering to an angry customer that wants it right now, but actually finish this bigger thing that you’re working on, and especially when I am working on courses, getting me to reply to an email is going to be very complicated.
Mark: Right, but I mean, day to day, when you wake up in the morning, how do you decide what you have to do today? Is that based on what you see in Asana?
Gael: Okay, there is kind of like a bigger session on Sunday night where I put like the big objectives what I want to get done this week, and I kind of try to assign a day to it, even though most of the time it doesn’t work, and after that, yeah, it’s like I just pick what I had for this day and then I do my email kind of like brainstorming or replying to email to essentially then going out adding stuff, then organizing everything when I get back at the beginning of the session then I actually get stuff done that’s on the list. There is many filters happening, there is a filter on Sunday night, there’s the filter when I handle the emails, or if I have to do creative stuff, and then I kind of like take everything, recompress that for the 6, 7 hours session I have in the afternoon, and then just set up task and do it. But I also do a lot of support for our stuff. So I am called in a quite a bit during that time as well to fix stuff they do etc.
Mark: I tend to, I have a similar sort of strategy like the Sunday night I plan out what I’m doing for the week, but for five, almost six years now, I’ve used Microsoft One Note. Which, from Microsoft products, is actually like really good.
Gael: For a Microsoft product.
Mark: Yeah, I think they bought it from someone else, developed it and so on.
Gael: Now everything makes sense.
Mark: I have that on my desktop, my laptop, my phone, it’s all synced, and my homescreen on that is basically a to do list and it says the seven days of the week and seven checklists, and I just populate that every week. There is certain things I’ll even plan on which days I want to go to the gym, on the Sunday and then figure out from there, and I’ll usually have one main task and then lots of little tasks that I do before that. And then anything that comes to my mind I’ll put that, I’d have a separate sort of column called backlog and I’ll just put it in there, and so I know that I’m going to process it at some point, every Sunday night I look at that backlog and think is there any of these I should be doing this week. And that’s how I kind of plan out. Similar to what you said though, there’s how I plan out on Sunday and is what actually happens. I’d say it’s maybe like 30 percent of what I plan is how it actually happens. Just because what we do, I don’t know, it changes so much.
Gael: You have meetings, we talk together, we’re like oh let’s change plans and then well, you can sort of half of what you have planned and you do something else. But one thing I like with Asana over One Note is that because of the subtask system, when I need help from stuff or from the team, from like a designer or something, then I can just make a subtask on that task I created on Sunday and actually invite people in there to help me out. And that’s super useful.
Mark: Yeah, if I’m working on something with someone else, then yeah, definitely use Asana, if I need you to do anything I always now ask on Asana. But One Note for me is more like, it’s the closest thing I think to digital paper, and it’s just so much easier and quicker to actually move things around and it’s the only thing I’ve been able to do, where I have actually stuck to it, like we used todoist for a while, and that and Asana, the great systems but I think they only really come into their own if you are fully 100% committed to it and getting to that point is quite difficult; with One Note, you can use it like 60% of the time and it’s still very effective system.
Gael: Yeah, I see, it’s like if you don’t update these systems, they just fall apart.
Mark: Yeah, and if you don’t update One Note, it’s easy, it’s fine, just next time you use it you just move things around really quickly. You don’t have to set dates or assign things.
Gael: In Asana you don’t have to do that either, it’s like you can do that but you don’t have to. So it’s ok.
Mark: I also like One Note because whenever we’re having meetings, or whenever I’m like trying to come up with an idea or brainstorming, I use it as well. So every meeting we’ve ever had, basically what we talked about, and what the actions were written in some One Note bit somewhere.
Gael: Alright, we need to change topic or we are going to have to rename that podcast Asana versus One Note.
Mark: [laugh] Sure. But it really does, it’s how I structure my day, based on what I see there, it’s the first thing I look at when I turn my computer on in the morning.
Gael: Yeah, so talking about the gym as well, you said like the days you pick etc. Personally, I go like every two days, kind of, like two or three times a week, one hour to two hours, it’s like I used to be a guy that just never exercises, I went through all my twenties not lifting a single weight, not running a mile or not doing anything, and actually I find this balances me a lot, that helps me keep my morning schedule as well, a lot. I’m doing this at 8 pm and when I’m done at 10 p.m then I just eat and go to bed, and that’s actually what maintains my whole schedule together, compared to when I was waking up at 11 p.m.
Mark: Sure. I go to the gym a lot, but I don’t think I go for as long of a time, I try and go four times a week, at the moment, but I say this and it’s going to sound like oh yeah, you must be super healthy, that’s when I’m trying to be healthy, and then I’ll come to the point where like when I was moving apartment in the last month, there was about a month when I didn’t go to the gym at all, just because a lot of other stuff was going on. And I was eating like fast food, and it all went to hell, and I lost six months of progress.
Gael: I have a trainer, so he calls me if I’m not coming, so it keeps me going. And also it just kills me. My diet is not super but it’s alright, but not amazing, but just because like he makes me workout so hard it just rebalances everything I’m actually much fitter than I used to be. So it’s kind of nice, but that really balances my sleeping schedule that makes the mornings impossible.
Mark: We both work from home, in our own apartments, we both have sort of like extra bedrooms which we use as offices. Do you miss having sort of big office with lots of people in it, talking with colleagues, that kind of stuff?
Gael: Sometimes. But, I can make friends in other ways, and if it’s just like oh we can just hang out in the office and play Nintendo 64 etc, it’s like well, is that really what your company should be doing? So, yes, sometimes I miss it, I mean, we used to have that. But, this is way more productive.
Mark: Yeah. I don’t miss it at all in the sense of like getting things done, I really think that it was a big distraction, hindrance more than a help to getting at least getting what I needed to do. And even like employees and stuff, I never thought anyone was that productive in the office environment, there was a lot of people talking all the time, a lot of distractions, I don’t see how anyone can really concentrate properly there.
Gael: Yeah, that’s what offices do, it’s almost too social. For the kind of work we’re doing, it’s like sure, now that you can screenshare and video call etc, you can deliver interaction, especially for the stuff we do, where it’s like everything is on the screen so we can just share it, high definition etc, it’s like no problem, you can see my mouse, the same way people train on Authority Hacker pro, and there’s no need to meet with each other. The thing is, I can understand how some people might miss it though, they need their social part in their life from work, and I don’t think it’s for everyone, and we saw it when we closed the office actually, because half the stuff just couldn’t take it after three or four months and we lost a lot of people.
Mark: It’s a fair point. I’m convinced actually one of the biggest things that makes this easier though is actually Slack. It’s very hard to describe and I’m sure we’ll do some kind of more detailed review on Slack, but compared to Skype what we used to use, it just feels much better way of communication.
Gael: It feels like professional thing, Skype is really to talk to your mom and see your family, it does a good job, at that, but this is more professional to share documents, to look at the history of when you share the password or something, whatever, this just makes things so much easier, so yeah, it’s definitely a good thing. I don’t see it like a revolution, I think it’s a nice evolution.
Mark: For me, it really felt revolutionary actually using it. But explaining it, it’s still just a chat program, but it’s so much more than that. Ok, so in terms of like holidays and vacations, I know you just got back from one, but how do you view those in the sense of work- life balance and all that?
Gael: I actually came back from one, I took a small weekend off for Easter and one in April, but that’s my first two holidays in twelve months. I haven’t taken any off last twelve months, but what I know is after four days break I get bored, so I prefer workation; not this year, but two years before, we were going to Thailand and staying a while and still working from there, but from the side of the swimming pool, or from some kind of like shared office space in Chiang Mai, and all these places, and just like still working, kind of a half time and enjoying half time other things; I actually enjoy these better than not working at all and talking holidays where you just do nothing and getting the sun, I really get bored really quickly, actually, I need my brain to work otherwise there is no point to life for me.
Mark: I’m kind of the same as well, I don’t really, I would just get so bored reading a book for a week on some beach, It sounds awesome, but I need some sort of brain stimulation. I remember when I was in Cuba, three years ago, they basically don’t have internet there, aside from like a couple of hotels, and it felt like- it was a great trip, we weren’t just lying on the beach, we were doing like proper traveling, driving around the whole country and stuff, but it just felt kind of like weird being offline and not being able to use Google Apps or any of these things.
Gael: I actually do holidays without my laptop, I still take my iPad, so I can do light email etc, after a week, I just can’t take it anymore. But once a year, or once in a year and a half, it’s a good thing to do.
Mark: I do quite a lot of sort of weekend breaks, it’s quite a good thing in Europe because you are never more than a couple of hours away from dozen different awesome cities, but I quite like those, Friday to Sunday type things, but even then, I’m always like okay, how can I get 3G or 4G when I’m there, what’s the plan to stay connected. Always figuring out these things, different sim cards, I have like five different sim cards in my passport holder at the moment, for different countries in Europe.
Gael: What would we do to just get these PayPal notifications.
Mark: Yeah. It helps me feel like it’s still- it’s hard to explain why that’s the thing.
Gael: I think it’s just this thing that it’s hard in your head to still conceptualize that your business can still run if you don’t pay attention to it.
Gael: I think so, still for me, it’s the same, I’m like all is going to fall apart, but all our automations still run, people can still check out and buy stuff etc.
Mark: It doesn’t stress me out though, that’s what I am saying, being connected or answering these things. To be honest, one of my secret confessions is that I actually really quite enjoy answering and handling support tickets for these things, and fixing people’s problems.
Gael: Oh great! Because I hate it.
Mark: [laugh] It quite satisfying, being able to resolve an issue, because usually they are very easy when you know what you’re doing. It’s kind of like therapy.
Gael: You can do that from now on. That’s your job now.
Mark: I think I’ve said too much.
Gael: I just hate doing that, I like to focus on other things. One thing is always when I travel, just when I go out as well, I always have my phone on me except when I’m at the gym, I don’t have my phone at the gym at all. Nobody can reach me. People can wait two hours. And, this phone we have which is Nexus 6p, I was like a cool fast charging function so in 45 minutes you can get half of your battery, even more. And I have a really big battery pack thing so it’s like pretty much impossible for me to run out of battery, even if I just have the screen turned on all day. So, unless I’m at the gym, it’s like I actually see the emails coming in and etc.
Mark: Cool. So how do you cope with the ups and downs of business? The question that Andreas originally asked was Google updates specifically and it doesn’t really affect us too much anymore.
Gael: No I think the thing is just to pay yourself regularly, and look at your bank account or the business bank account, and then, when you can afford it and then it’s like, as long as my personal bank account is alright, then I have time to fix it up. And I don’t care so much anymore.
Mark: Yeah. I mean, for me, the ups and downs, I would always feel it a lot more I think because I always take a really close look at the finances and stuff, and when they are up and when they are doing really well, it’s like okay, that is satisfactory. But when it’s down, it’s like oh shit, it’s falling apart. And, it kind of spurs you to take action. So, I don’t think there is any-
Gael: There is no magic formula.
Mark: Magic formula how to deal with that. Diversification is the thing, if you have multiple traffic sources for example, then Google is not the thing, if you are playing fairly, by doing white hat properly and not doing pbns or anything, you really have nothing to worry about any Google updates.
Gael: We’ve had years of steady traffic.
Mark: Yes. Back in the day when we had our agency, at the very start, we did a lot of gray hat, we had one update that like killed 80% of our business, that was quite a stressful time, but you just deal with it, when your back is against the wall, it’s almost like you’ll push harder to find the solution for it, so I don’t really think about this things too much or worry about them.
Gael: Also like we are having a cash flow now so that a one month problem is not going to kill anything. I think that changes a lot of things. We live in a tube city, we make more than the average person with a job, one month of revenue could sustain us for six or more months if we want. And we’re living a pretty good life. It’s basically like if you are just make enough to survive and then you have ups and downs, I am sure you are going to get a lot more emotional about it and don’t feel guilty about it, it’s just that you need to reach that point where your basic needs are taken care of.
Mark: Yeah, and I think what I realize as well is a lot of the time the actual direct work you’re doing you tend not to see the effects or the rewards of it, until maybe like six, twelve months down the line, when things start to stack up like all the different marketing efforts you are doing and then it comes together, and then you really start to see big growth. So you have to be kind of ok with that sort of delayed effect as well.
Gael: Yeah. Once again, when search for this on scale it’s less important. But at the beginning it’s really what a lot of members find difficult, we’re like keep going, do this, do this, and they do stuff and the analytics is still flat, it’s very difficult for people to justify taking time away from their families, investing their money, etc, and not seeing growth at the beginning, personally, because of where we are right now I actually love it. Because for me, that makes the entire environment a lot less competitive because of all the people that quit so early, and because we’re kind of in the stable position, but yeah, it’s awesome if you go through it and at the beginning you just have to hold on and keep going.
Mark: Just quickly, this last two questions that he asked were, how do you explain your job to people who have no idea about IM and do you think you’ll be doing this or something similar in five, ten, twenty years.
Gael: How do we explain this to someone that doesn’t do Internet Marketing. I mean, I just explain that we are building audiences and we are selling relevant products to them, it’s basically, and I’m like look, we use Facebook and Google and all these things to drive people to our website, people sign up to the email list, then we offer relevant products and it’s either our products or we get paid a commission to sell someone else’s products. It’s like most people get that part.
Mark: Whenever I am explaining to grandparents or people who don’t use computers, I always say it’s basically like internet version of a magazine. We produce content, people read it and we can make money off of the audience that we gather by advertising and selling things.
Gael: Yeah, it’s pretty simple. What was the other question?
Mark: Do you think you’ll still be doing this in five, ten, twenty years time. Assuming artificial intelligence hasn’t taken over.
Gael: Yeah, probably we’ll all be dead, but if we’re not, [laugh] if we’re not yeah, I think people will still consume content in one way or another it will be probably very different the ways we acquire traffic will be different, the types of content we publish will be very different, but people will still look for information, and there would need to be someone to provide it to them.
Mark: In fifty or a hundred years, I think it’ll change very much, it will be very different, but five, ten, twenty years I think it’s an interesting trajectory that is on more and more people are entering the market, there is more and more big players, I think that traditional media is going to continue to somewhat decline, and even very recently, the fact that YouTube’s gotten so big, where TV used to be the main thing, it’s just interesting to see how that will go but all this stuff kind of is interrelated and overlaps and I’m sure we’re going to be in and around for the next 20 years.
Gael: Yeah, it’s ok, I mean, like we’re kind of like building up a lot of experience on how people interact with content, and so on, and I’m not excluding that one day some big company that needs some kind of like content expert team makes an acquisition or whatever, there could be so many ways that we can bring value, it’s not necessary what we want to do, but more and more brands and big players are coming into this. And also, there is not that many people connected to internet now, there is like one billion people, and there is seven billion people in the world, so there is a potential for seven x growth plus the growth of the population to happen and big players like Facebook and Google are making this happen and that means that we’re still far from maturation.
Mark: Okay. So anything else you want to add to all that we’ve talked about? Any other points?
Gael: Actually not really. We went through most things in my life which is a very simple life but I like to keep it simple to get productive. I was just with my family in France, and they have way more complicated lives and I realize that the reason I get so much done in what we do is because my life is so simple, and I like it, I want to keep it that way.
Mark: Yeah. There is two points I want to add, one is that it’s good to have some kind of like mastermind or accountability kind of group that you meet with, there is loads of these online, very easy to find. I’m in one of those and every month we meet and just talk about main things we want to do or things you want to change. Usually for me, I use it to sort of track and develop new habits, like going to the gym and flossing my teeth was a big one I worked on last year and I do that every day now. So I highly recommend doing that. It’s also good to get sort of like some outside perspective on what you’re doing. The other one is, I think it’s a really good idea to have some kind of a hobby, outside of your work. When you’re starting off, it can be very tempting to just forget everything you are doing, your social life, anything else you’re interested in and just focus on what you’re working on, and that’s fine. But realistically, you can only do that for so long and you’ll get burned out unless you take some breaks and at least think of other things, go for a walk, whatever, go to the gym, whatever it might be. So yeah, let’s leave it at that point.
Gael: Okay. Well guys, thank you for tuning in, I hope that gives you a little bit more of an insight on what we actually do every day.
Mark: And once again, if you want to ask us a question to answer in the podcast, full podcast or maybe we’ll do ask me anything type thing, go to authorityhacker.com/ask and enter your question there.
Gael: Cool. Guys, thanks for listening, and we’ll see you in the next episode, bye.
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