If you are struggling with feeling overwhelmed, or are stressing about getting a handle on your schedule, Mark Struczewski, who is known as Mr. Productivity, is obsessed with helping people just like you. His goal is to help a hundred million solopreneurs bust through those feelings of overwhelm and build more productivity into every day. Our interview with him is all about doing things a smarter way, not a harder way.

Q: I’d love to hear your story of how you got into the business of being Mr. Productivity. What led you down this path?

A: It started with the words “You’re fired.” I was working for a local company in 2005 when they fired me. I had to figure out my next career move and I kept hearing about entrepreneurs, everywhere! I couldn’t even spell the word at the time. I didn’t know what an entrepreneur was, but I wanted to be one.

My first endeavor was to become a portrait photographer. Ultimately, I failed as a wedding photographer, but through that, I became interested in speaking about photography. I reached out to someone in my Bible study class, and they guided me in how to become a public speaker. After some time, I decided I didn’t want to speak on photography any longer and thought I could talk about “How to go from hopeless to hopeful” or “How to overcome roadblocks on your path to success.” Note to self: if you’re not successful, don’t try to tell people how to become successful.

However, I knew that I really loved helping others, but I didn’t know what I should do with that. One of my coaches said one day, “Well, why don’t you talk about productivity? You are naturally gifted at being productive and you should share that gift with the world.” The rest is history.

Q: What has helped you succeed as Mr. Productivity?

A: I am an instant action taker. If someone recommends a book, I get on my Amazon app and order it. If someone says I should start doing a certain exercise or eating a certain food, I’m going to try it. If you look at all the successful people in our world, they’re not dwellers. They are doers.

Q: You mentioned a pretty audacious goal that you want to help 100 million solopreneurs bust through overwhelm by 2032. How are you going to do that?

A: To be honest, I don’t know how! Speaking on shows like yours, being on my podcast, social media coaching, and just showing up as my best self. I will never really know if I achieved that goal, but it’s extremely important to keep in mind in order for me to maintain and increase my productivity. Everyone should have a goal that is bigger than life. My goal is what gets me up seven days a week, always excited. Once you have the goal in mind, the ‘how’ will eventually come to you.

Q: So many people lose productivity because they’re stuck in analysis paralysis, waiting for the perfect time or opportunity even when we know that is right now. What are some of the common roadblocks that you’ve seen keeping people from being productive with their time?

A: People are their biggest barrier to being more successful, more productive, and less overwhelmed. They’ll come to me for help and start listing their problems. I’ll ask, “Who is the root of all these problems?” First, they may deflect the blame to their boss or spouse or lack of time. But I ask again, “Who is responsible? If you have too many things on your to-do list, who put them there?” They come to realize that their productivity is their own responsibility.

I have this concept called the Dead Sea of To-Do lists. Nothing can live in the Dead Sea in Israel, and everything that flows into it dies. People will just keep adding and adding to their to-do lists, unable to tick off any boxes which makes them understandably feel overwhelmed. I would be too! You have control of your to-do list. People struggle with hearing that they are their own biggest obstacle, but it’s a necessary truth.

Q: What’s something you would tell a person who wants to be more productive but is struggling with feeling overwhelmed?

A: I’m a fan of taking small actions that will lead to big results. When someone doesn’t like their circumstances, I ask them where they want to be. Maybe they want to have more time for relaxing with family or reading books. Once they have pinpointed that, they can start with small changes. Author James Clear talks about small, atomic habits that turn into big results. It’s the small changes that stick. For example, I read 30 to 60 minutes per day. Why? Successful people like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates read every day. They make a lot of money and make reading a priority, so I align with that and constantly read books. Continually making it a priority to learn and expose yourself to new things will boost your productivity.

There’s a big chasm between the people who have a lot of success and those who don’t. It comes down to self-responsibility. Ultimately, you can’t rely on other people to make you more productive, more successful, or more healthy. That’s up to you! The hardest but most magical part of getting results comes from implementation of the small changes.

A bonus tip for busting through overwhelm: Take a micro break whenever you need to! This means you actually get up from where you’re working. Go outside or around the block, but without your phone for 5-10 minutes. You don’t have to think about what you’re working on. Doing this is so powerful. It will give you a natural boost of energy and will fundamentally change your productivity.

Q: When people are making incremental changes towards a more productive lifestyle, what have you seen happen with them between their before and after?

A: They go from feeling overwhelmed and fatigued to feeling peace, joy, and freedom within their lives. They can celebrate a new version of themselves. It’s exciting! They find that this will inspire those around them, too. The side effect of reclaiming your life and setting boundaries is that it allows you to be much more effective and productive. When you’re living from that joyful space, you actually attract insights that get you there faster.

Q: What would you say to someone who wants to better manage their time?

A: Tell your time where to go. Write down your action items that must get completed. I write down the next day’s needle-moving activities the night before. This makes the goals actionable as opposed to them taking up much space in thoughts, ultimately saving me time from thinking about what I need to do the next day.

Q: What is your coaching process when you begin to help people?

A: I have a six-step process called 90 Days to Busting Overwhelm. The first step is clarity, because you can’t plan something without a goal. After gaining some clarity, we’ll work on how to create and live a less overwhelmed life. It can be uncomfortable, like going to the gym, but you’ll definitely grow. My favorite quote is from Steve Harvey: “If you ever want to be successful, you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

Mark had so many great tips on getting through the overwhelm and becoming more productive. If you have any questions or want to take a deeper dive in terms of mindset or productivity, visit Mark’s website at 5productivitytips.com.

If you want to get out of the rat race and start living the life you dreamed of, visit my website at RatRaceReboot.com. There, you’ll find tons of information and links to my podcast and call calendar. Remember, if you can see it in your mind, you can hold it in your hand. Everything is created twice. First in your imagination, and then in physical form.