Overcome Procrastination to Increase Your Productivity | TJ Guttormsen | Skillshare

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Overcome Procrastination to Increase Your Productivity

teacher avatar TJ Guttormsen, Coach, speaker, and traveler.

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      High-Performers Procrastinate Less


    • 2.

      When You Have Too Much To Do


    • 3.

      When the Task is Too Big


    • 4.

      The Plan That Will Get You Going


    • 5.

      Learn How Before You Do


    • 6.

      When the Task is Too Boring


    • 7.

      A Few Final Words


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About This Class

Do you ever postpone doing a task that you know you should be working on?

Do you ever have a hard time getting started on your work, even though you know you have to do it?


"Top notch class. I loved it! I left this class feeling empowered and it doesn't get any better than that. Terrific teacher, very engaging. Video quality is quite professional and you can tell this teacher has years of experience in his field. I plan to soak up all the classes offered in this series. This class will be life changing for me and I feel very grateful and blessed to have discovered it." - Terri Brodhagen, Skillshare student


The truth is that everyone procrastinates at times.

The difference between high-performers and the rest of the world is that the high-performers only procrastinate for a fraction of the time that the rest do.

Coach and consultant TJ Guttormsen (http://www.tjguttormsen.com) has worked with thousands of people around the world since 2009. And through his work with Fortune 500 CEO's, Olympic Athletes, and other overachievers he has seen firsthand what those who perform among the highest in the world do to overcome procrastination.

TJ also has a Facebook group where he gives free personal support and posts free new content several times a week. Click here to check it out.

In this class, he shares his favorite and most effective techniques to help you overcome all forms of procrastination.

Whatever it is that's holding you back from getting started on the task you know you should be working on, one of these techniques will help get you going.

And if you have any questions at all, you can contact TJ in the discussions, or via his Facebook group.


“Everyone struggles with procrastination to some degree or another; so to hear TJ break down how and why we procrastinate, as well as providing useful techniques for how to overcome it, was incredibly eye-opening. I would recommend this course to anyone! ” - Mark London, Skillshare student

Meet Your Teacher

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TJ Guttormsen

Coach, speaker, and traveler.


Since 2009 I've been lucky enough to get to coach people ranging from Olympic gold medalists and billionaire CEOs, to people still finding their way through their life. I've had clients and students from every continent on the planet - now including Antarctica - and I couldn't love my job more.

I hold three university degrees in psychology and education, am a multiple-time published author - and here on Skillshare I share some of the most effective techniques I've learned, taught, and used over the last many years.

I'm originally from Norway, but I now live and work out of Las Vegas, Nevada, with my wife, our three cats, and my two fish tanks.

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1. High-Performers Procrastinate Less: Hi, and welcome to my little overcoming procrastination class. My name is TJ Guttormsen and I've worked as a coach and consultant for people from all over the world since 2009. Now, I could spend the next many minutes boring you with my story to convince you that what I have to share with you is worth your time. But that wouldn't be any fun for me, and I'm not even sure a lot of people even bother watching these intro videos from start to finish anyway. So let me just say this. I procrastinate. And so do every successful CEO, Olympic athlete, award-winning musical artists and over-achieving entrepreneur I've been lucky enough to get to work with. Just like every graphic designer, salesman, nurse, teacher, contractor, house maker, and so on. Pushing off tasks that we should do right now is a completely natural thing to do. Everybody does it at times. However, the highly productive people, those who walk among us performing more and better than anyone else, only procrastinate for fraction of the time that the rest of us do. And when I discovered that through my work with these high-performers many years ago, I became determined to learn how they did it. I thought it would take a lot of time and hard work to figure it out and copy it. But it took about as long as it will take you to go through this class and practice what you learn. It's not rocket science. It doesn't even take a lot of hard work. All it takes is a little bit of determination, a bit of effort, and a little bit of knowledge. And I'm gonna give you the knowledge in this class. If you supply the determination and the effort, you'll cut down your procrastination to the level of those high performers in no time. All it will cost you a few minutes of your time right now. Does that sound OK with you? Great. Now, if you want any support along the way, please feel free to come join my Facebook group by typing fb.tjguttormsen.com into your browser. That will forward you to my Facebook group where I post free content several times a week, and answer any and all questions I get from the group's members. I also strongly encourage you to post in the class projects here on Skillshare. I'd love to see some examples of how you break down bigger tasks, make your plans, and all the other things that you're about to learn. And don't be afraid to use the discussions either, of course, I'd love to hear your ideas and your questions in there. Alright, now let's get to the good stuff. 2. When You Have Too Much To Do: One of the most common reasons for why people experienced procrastination is that they feel overwhelmed by how many things they have to do. And when that happens, there's a simple little trick though we can use to get things going. And that is to start with something small and simple. Our goal is to get the reward system in our brain to activate, which it does whenever it sees that we have accomplished something, anything. And by finishing a small and simple task, it will. It doesn't matter that the task only takes a couple of minutes to do. It doesn't matter if it seems insignificant. It's not meant to make a huge dent in your to-do list. It's not supposed to solve your biggest problems. It's just supposed to get you warmed up to get your juices flowing and to give you that slight sense of accomplishment. But here's the thing. We never know when the reward system of our brain is going to activate enough for that sense of accomplishment to kick in. It could be after the first task that you do, or it could be after the fourth, or it can be after the sixth - or whenever. All we can say with some certainty is that it will kick in as long as we keep doing small tasks and as long as we don't try to force it. Try giving your reward system an ultimatum like, "you'd better activate after I pick up my dirty socks or you'll be in trouble!" And see how well that works. But with a bit of patience, and a smidge of self-discipline to finish a handful of small tasks, this will get you going on the bigger ones too. And speaking of bigger ones, let's go on to the next video and talk about how we do this when the problem isn't a lot of tasks - but one very big one. 3. When the Task is Too Big: I'm about to ask you to do a task, and I want you to pay attention to your natural, immediate reaction when you see what the task is. Okay? Here it is. I want you to count how many jelly beans of each color is in this picture. How did you feel about that? If you're like most of my clients, you might have felt a little overwhelmed, frustrated, or something along those lines. And that's understandable. There's lots of jelly beans of several different colors in that picture. And it's not a particularly fun task. For most people it can seem a little overwhelming, at least for the first couple of seconds. Where should they start counting? How many colors are there? Why should they even care? But what if I showed you the picture again and asked you to only count the white jelly beans? That feels different, right? It's nowhere near as overwhelming. It's a quick and easy task, and it's done in seconds. We can write down that there's nine white jelly beans, and we're done. And then if we'd like, we can move on and do the yellow ones. Do you see where I'm going with this? Large or complex tasks can often lead to procrastination, especially if we feel overwhelmed or frustrated when we think about them. Any sense of not knowing where to start, or feeling like it will take forever, often makes people hesitant to even start a task. And when that happens the best thing we can do is to break that task into smaller pieces. The very first time I sat down to work on this course, for example, I was a little tired and I had a bit of a headache. And although I was looking forward to making the course, the idea of researching, planning, designing, scripting, filming, editing, and marketing the whole course seemed like a lot in that moment. And I really didn't want to start working. Before I knew it I had wasted lots of time on unimportant distractions. And I realized that I was procrastinating. Once I caught myself, I decided to use this technique. So I looked at my first task, which was to do research, and broke off a little piece of it to do. I wanted to look at other productivity courses out there to see what people were already teaching, so that I could make sure that I was bringing something new to the table in my course. So I went on various online course websites, searched for productivity courses, and then I opened all the most popular ones in their own browser tabs. This was a very simple task. All it took was to type a few words into my browser and then click a bunch of links. All in all, it only took me a few minutes. When I was done doing that, I didn't really feel ready to start reading, and taking notes, and studying all of these pages. I checked my to-do list for the course and found another small task. And then I did that one. And then another small task after that. After half an hour or so, I had done a handful of small tasks. And suddenly I felt a sense of accomplishment. I felt like the big task of doing research was a little easier now that I've done a few preparations, and I felt more motivated to get started. So I did. This tactic is so simple that a lot of people have already thought of it in themselves, but very few people actually do it. All it takes is to start with something small and easy when you feel overwhelmed. Find a small piece of the task that you can break off and do. It doesn't matter if it's significant or important or not. All that matters is that it feels doable in that moment, and that it has anything at all to do with the bigger task. Then just keep finding and finishing small pieces like that until you feel ready to take on to something bigger. 4. The Plan That Will Get You Going: The famous quote, "if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail" from Benjamin Franklin, is another important tool that will help us overcome procrastination. It doesn't matter if we're procrastinating on a specific task or just procrastinating in general, making a plan for what we're going to do and when and how are we going to do it will help us. In other words, this plan has to be more than saying, "I'm going to do the task today at 11 AM." It should be as close to a step-by-step instruction manual as practically feasible. Because when we do that, when we plan the steps we're going to do something in. We'll both incorporate the technique from the previous video about breaking tasks down into smaller pieces, we'll create a concrete commitment - or deadline - for ourselves, and give ourselves a simple roadmap to success. If we make sure to start those steps out with something small and simple - and have just a little bit of self-discipline to get started with that something small and simple when we say we're going to get started - we'll be off to the races. So here's your exercise for this chapter. Take some time to think about the next tasks that you have to do after you finish watching this course. It doesn't matter if it's today, or tomorrow, or next week. Make a list of the order that you're going to do the first five or so tasks in, then set the start time for the first task. Once you have that, break each of the tasks down into rough steps. Let me give you a simple everyday example from my life. My first task tomorrow, starting at 10:00 AM, will be to clean my office because I've done some construction work in there. The rough steps to doing that will be: one, pick up everything from the floor, the desk, and the couch. Two, move out all the easily movable furniture. Three, clean the desk and my fish tanks. Four, vacuum the floor. Five, put everything back. Now, in reality, cleaning the room might not be a task that actually requires a lot of planning, but it works as an example. And cleaning really isn't a task that I enjoy a lot, so having this simple five-step list might make me procrastinate a whole lot less. It can make it easier for me to break the bigger task into smaller tasks, by letting me focus on one step at a time. I might not feel like cleaning my whole office tomorrow at 10 AM, but I might be able to convince myself to just pick the stuff off the floor and the desk and the couch. And after that, it might not be such a big deal to move out the chair and the other easily movable furniture, and so on. 5. Learn How Before You Do: I called my client, Amy, to find out why she hadn't sent me the video she had promised me. Amy had hired me to help her create an online course. We had worked together for a while to improve her speaking technique, develop the curriculum for our course, and all that other good stuff. But it had been two weeks or so since I'd heard from her, and she was way behind on delivering her first finished video for the course. It quickly became clear that she was procrastinating. She said she was nervous because she wasn't sure she was ready. She was worried that the video wouldn't be any good. She was particularly worried about how her voice would sound. Even more so because she really didn't know how to use the new microphone, the new audio recorder, that she had bought to record the course with. I immediately suspected what the problem was. Lucky for the two of us, Amy had happened to buy the same audio recorded that I use for my courses. So I asked her to go get it and quickly walked her through the settings she needed to know. Less than five minutes later she smiled and said, "that's all it is? Wow, I thought it all looked so complicated." And two days later she sent me her first finished video. Amy had been procrastinating because there was this one element in her task that she didn't know well enough. She felt intimidated by how to use her audio recorder because she didn't understand it. On the surface, it seemed easy enough. After all, it was just kind of a microphone, so it really shouldn't be that complicated. But all the buttons and dials can be intimidating when you don't know what they do. And once words like recording frequencies and decibels, words Amy surely wasn't used to, got thrown in the mix - it was enough for her to just kinda pull away from all of it. When we don't understand or know how to do something, we can sometimes end up trying to avoid it all without even realizing that that's what we're doing. Amy wasn't consciously aware that she was procrastinating because she was intimidated by her new microphone. She thought she was nervous about doing a bad job, and that she wasn't procrastinating, but waiting until she was more confident so that she could do a better job. But once she understood what was really going on she stopped being afraid of not sounding good - because that wasn't actually ever her problem. The lesson to be learned here is to make sure that you take the time to learn how to do the tasks that are new or complex before you start to do them. Once we know how to do something, it becomes easy to do. Before we know how to do something we'll procrastinate on it for as long as we can. And in some cases never even start it. Here's a simple exercise you can do for this chapter. Think about a couple of things that you would like to do but that you've never gotten around to learning how to do. It could be things like changing the oil on your car instead of taking it to a garage. Or fixing that dripping faucet in your bathroom. Making your first website. Or how to take great portrait photos with your smartphone. Or whatever. Small little helpful skills or tasks that can add something to your everyday life. Once you've thought of a couple of things, go online and find step-by-step tutorials on how to do it. Then watch or read those tutorials from start to finish until you understand them as well as you can from just studying them. Once you're done, I'll bet that you'll feel a lot more motivated and equipped to finally do that thing and to no longer procrastinate on it. 6. When the Task is Too Boring: So I have to start this video by defining the word arousal so we don't have any awkward misunderstandings. In everyday use most people use the word arousal for things sexual in nature. However, in psychology, the term is used for any elevation of emotional or physical states. That includes things like joy, frustration, stress, excitement, and so on. Basically, anything that makes our heart beat faster. Which is how I'll be using it in this video, though, I will be focusing on the positive ones, okay? Okay. In psychology, there's also something called the Yerkes-Dodson law, which says that performance increases with psychological and physiological arousal up to a certain point, and then it starts to decrease again. Or put in a simpler way, if you're too relaxed or too stressed, your performance will suffer. If you want to perform at your best, you should aim to hit your optimal arousal level, which is right in between low arousal and high arousal. If that sounds technical, don't worry, I'm about to make it very, very simple. We've already talked about several techniques we can use if we're too overwhelmed. That is to say, if we feel like we have too much on our plate, too much to do. Or if a task feels like it's too big, too intimidating. When we have these experiences are arousal levels tend to become too high, which can make it hard to get started on the task. But sometimes it's the other way around. Sometimes the reason we have a hard time getting started is because our arousal levels are too low. This often happens if the task we're supposed to work on feels like it's too easy, or boring, or pointless, or simply something we have no interest in. When that happens, it can help to increase our arousal levels. And here's the good news. That's not just pretty easy, is usually fun too. You see, there are a million ways to increase our arousal levels. Basically, anything that gets your heart beating a little faster works. And if it gets a little bit of adrenaline, dopamine, or serotonin into your system too - even better. And if you don't know what any of those things are, don't worry, you don't have to. You simply have to find something to do that will get you a little excited and energized. It's great if that thing is related to the task that you're about to do, but it doesn't have to be. Let me give you some examples of this from my life just to show you the wide range of things that I do to increase my arousal levels when I need to. When I have housework to do, for example, but don't feel like it, I often put on my headphones, play music from my childhood and sing and dance along. I feel silly and childish doing it. It gets my heart pumping. It makes me laugh at myself. And before I know it, I'm picking clothes off the floor, and I am cleaning the kitchen. Now if I'm tired before I have calls to make or videos to record, I do things like recite song lyrics or make up stories, both in silly voices, while I get ready. When I don't feel like answering my emails, but I know I have to, I get my blood pumping by shaking my body, moving my feet or arms, or whichever other physical activity makes sense to me in the moment. And I often start out by reading the emails out loud. Once again in that silly voice. It gets my heart beating faster. It wakes me up a little bit. And physical movement has always helped me focus. Other things that have helped me over the years have been things like do mini-competitions with myself, or whoever else might happen to be around. Play little games. And even things like putting ice cubes down the back of my shirt to shock myself awake. Many people find that light exercise, like a few push-ups or jumping jacks, is a good way to jumpstart things. And for others, loud music is a good way to go. There's really no right or wrong answer here. All you're looking for is something that will get your heart pumping a little faster and wake you up. And, of course, something that won't take off a lot of your time. Because this isn't, after all, just another distraction to help you procrastinate. So your exercise here is simple. Write a list of ideas for yourself to try the next time you feel like low arousal levels might be what's making you procrastinate. And write that list now - not the next time it happens. And when it does happen, pick one of those ideas and get your heart pumping. As soon as it is, turn your attention back to your task and just get started on whatever step one from that plan we talked about earlier is. Odds are you'll suddenly find it a lot easier to get started. 7. A Few Final Words: All right, that's about it for this class. Thank you so much for your time. If you like what you learned in this class, you should probably go ahead and check out my other productivity classes too. In them, you'll learn a bunch of productivity techniques that you can apply in the moment whenever you need them. And you'll learn a bunch of productivity habits, that once you've created them for yourself, will make you more productive by default - without you even having to think about it. Also, remember to give me a followed by clicking the Follow button next to my name on your screen, so that you don't miss out when I share new classes in the future. And if you'd like what you learned, I'd also greatly appreciated it if you left a review for this class. Reviews are the lifeblood for us Skillshare teachers, and it is a great way for you to support the work that I've done here. And to encourage me to keep creating classes for Skillshare. Oh, and if you haven't already, I'd like to invite you again to join my Facebook group by typing fb.tjguttormsen.com into your browser. We have a vibrant community over there with lots of great discussions, lots of free content, and, of course, plenty of opportunities to have your questions answered. The group is called Centered Communication, but we cover a lot more than communication in there. Productivity being top among our favorite topics. So please come join us, ask your questions, get to know other people, and get all the free content than fun stuff that we have in it. Alright, that's it for me for now. Thank you so much for your time, and I hope to see you again soon.