Subconscious Productivity: Four Ways Your Brain Can Make You More Productive

Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will someday become a reality.” – Earl Nightingale, American motivational writer, speaker, and author.

It’s well established that, like an iceberg, only a small percentage of a person’s mind is “above the water,” active and aware, at any particular time. I’m not going to spout the over-used claim that you use only 10% of your brain on average; the majority of your brain is, in fact, used to control automatic and autonomous functions like breathing and heartbeat, as well as to process the flood of incoming sensory information you deal with constantly. Besides, this is the mind I’m talking about here, as apart from the brain: the consciousness that the electrochemical reactions inside in your head somehow generate as something above and beyond mere physical being.

The subconscious mind—the majority of our cognition that hides beneath the veneer of the conscious mind—may not control us overtly, but it certainly casts a large vote toward all our thoughts, feelings, and actions. This is the domain where we store every memory and form all attitudes, prejudices, and opinions. Here, dreams are manufactured as the brain sorts through feelings, impressions, and memories. It’s also where inspiration and creativity arise, to later strike like bolts from the blue.

The subconscious never stops working. It just keeps trying things out, good and bad, fitting together idea fragments in novel ways to see if they synergize, and presenting you with the results when they somehow do. The results can be positive or negative, and sometimes terrifying or inspiring in their implications.

But your subconscious doesn’t have to control you. It’s not a field sprouting random weeds. It’s more like a garden, where what you plant, deliberately or otherwise, matures in due time to influence your behavior and outlook on life. As so many have pointed out, you really do reap what you sow with the subconscious mind. (← Click to Tweet) If you sow negativity, you’ll reap uncertainty and pain. Sow positivity , and you’ll mine inspiration and creativity from the depths of your subconscious, resulting in productivity and success. I won’t claim what you want will magically appear just because you think good thoughts; but combine a positive attitude with action, sometimes massive action, and it will happen.

It’s not even very hard to do. In fact, your worst hindrance may be your own tendency to complain, feel sorry for yourself, or expect the worst. Rather than accept your lot in life, implement these four methods to harness your subconscious to boost your productive success.

1. Ban negative self-talk. Remember when you were learning things as a kid, and you’d guide yourself through a process by repeating it out loud? That never really stops; it just goes underground. Even as adults, we maintain a constant inner monologue. Sometimes it becomes negative when things go wrong, and we convince ourselves we’re useless and worthless. Next time you find yourself thinking such a thing, shut it down, and replace it with something positive. Over time, this will become second-nature.

Side note: Don’t let your own negative thoughts get you down, and don’t let other’s negative thoughts get you down either! If you’re letting other’s opinions get in the way of your productivity, maybe it’s time to stop caring so much what other people think. I talk more about this topic in this video. 

2. Practice daily affirmations. Tell yourself out loud you can succeed, and your subconscious will believe it and allow the seed to take root. Even the simplistic “Every day in every way, I’m getting better and better,” can help. I’m fond of Al Franken’s famous Stuart Smalley quote: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”

3. Take time out to relax. People get their best ideas in the oddest places, often when they’re not even trying. Mine usually come to me in the shower or bath or while walking my dog. I keep my phone handy to add these thoughts to my task list. Some people get them in bed just before falling asleep. Thomas Edison used to hold a coin between his knees, relax until he lost control of his muscles and it fell into a tin tray below, and then write out everything in his mind at that moment. You can do something similar, keeping a pen and notebook or voice recorder close at hand at all times for those sudden inspirations.

4. Consciously decide what you want right now. Write out your goals and dreams. It doesn’t matter if you type it on a computer or write it longhand, as long as you save the list and review it regularly. This plants more positive seeds in your subconscious.

Jumpstart Your Mind

This is a bare-bones introduction to the topic of harnessing the subconscious; many a book has been written on it. But these four simple tips will allow you to more easily till the fertile garden of your imagination and plant the right kind of seeds to help you thrive rather than die on the vine. It’s not difficult, but you do have to sow what you sincerely want to reap.

© 2017 Laura Stack.

About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:

Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on productivity and performance. Funny, engaging, and full of real life strategies that work, Laura will change mindsets and attitudes so your people can maximize productivity, strengthen performance, and get the job done right. Her presentations at corporate events, sales kick-off meetings, and association conferences help audiences improve output, increase speed in execution, and save time in the office. Stack has authored seven books, including her newest work, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (Jan. 2016). To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401, email, or CONTACT US.

Here’s what others are saying:

“Laura Stack’s session with a group of our seasoned operations managers was eye-opening. We all learned new ways to be more productive with the tools we already have. I’ve never seen each of our seasoned, experienced operations managers so engaged in a session. Many of our senior and mid-level leaders were wowed by what they learned and have already begun using the new techniques with their teams.”
—Mary Pawlowski, Learning Design, Piedmont Natural Gas

“What I enjoyed most about your presentation was that it was not only engaging but also practical in application. I’ve read everything from Covey’s system to “Getting Things Done,” and you presented time management in a way that is the easiest I’ve seen to digest and apply. Thank you for helping our system today!”
—John-Reed McDonald, SVP, Field Operations, Pridestaff

“Laura is an incredible speaker who takes practical information to improve productivity and efficiency and makes it interesting and fun! She has a great sense of humor and completely engaged our corporate and sales team. Laura motivated everyone to take steps to make their lives more productive and efficient.
—Molly Johnson, Vice President Domestic Sales, Episciences, Inc.

“Ms. Laura Stack’s program received the highest scores in the 13-year history of the Institute for Management Studies (IMS) in Cleveland! From the 83 participants, the workshop received a perfect 7.0 for “Effectiveness of the Speaker” and 6.8 for “Value of the Content.” Managers especially valued learning about task management, how to minimize interruptions, organizing with Outlook, prioritizing, effectively saying ‘no,’ how to set boundaries, and recognizing self-imposed challenges to time management.”
—Don Gorning, Chair, Institute for Management Studies Cleveland



  1. Very enlightening. Our brain is like a muscle that can be trained into a more productive one. Your four methods are spot-on. May I add, “stop multitasking” on your list. If you notice, when we multitask, it slows us down in getting both tasks done. We are easily distracted from one task to the other. So, we need to focus in one task before jumping in to the other.

  2. Yes, I agree! Multi-tasking is also unproductive; however, it doesn’t stem from the subconscious mind but rather the working memory, when you’re working on one project, think of something else, stop what you’re doing, and start working on the new task. That’s a purposeful choice that should also be harnessed. I’ve written about task switching quite a bit! If you search for “multi-tasking” on my blog, you’ll find several articles. Thank you!