Do You Pull the Plug On Your Own Productivity?

As you know, you have approximately 60,000 thoughts a day,  but a single one can pull the plug on your productivity for the whole day (or week).

For example, I had a client who who sold insurance.  He got a referral to meet with the person who heads a big union.  Can you imagine? He would  get to sell insurance to thousands of union members?  KaChing!

He scheduled into his calendar a time to follow up on the referral and prepare a proposal. What happened when the reminder came up on his screen?  He said to himself,  “Its going to take too much time to put together all the pieces of the proposal today”.   (NOTE: This is code for: “I’m not clear about the task so I don’t know how to get started AND I don’t believe I can do a good job on this”).   I asked him what would be the first thought he had if the union representative called and asked for a meeting this afternoon.    He said “part of me would be excited,  the other part would be thinking:   ‘They are probably smarter than me, why would they want to meet with ME?’”   So he let his staff interrupt him all day and didn’t make the call or do the proposal.  That was the thought that pulled the plug on his productivity.

(BTW,  I call the question I asked him the “Oprah” test:  If Oprah’s show called for you to be on tomorrow,  are you ready??  If not,  you’ve got some work to do!”)

Another example:  I had a client who worked as an underwriter at a bank.    She would look at her ‘to do’ list,  it would state, “Write a memo on x policy and send it to boss for review.”   When she saw that item, she’d think, “Mm boss is going to think my work on this shows I don’t know enough” so her solution was just to put off doing the work.   When she would start to work on it,  she sometimes had questions,  but she wouldn’t ask her boss/mentors because she thought, “My boss might think I’m stupid if I ask that question”.    She ‘got by’ doing the basic work but didn’t feel confident or that she was making a real contribution. A single thought pulled the plug on her productivity each step of the way.

What is your single thought that pulls the plug on your productivity?
If you haven’t had the kind of productivity you want it is because you haven’t had a Productivity Mindset.   What is a productivity mindset?

Its a way of thinking that guides every thought, every action and every reaction you have from the moment you wake up until you go to bed.  Each moment of the day will present you with a ‘fork in the road’; to be productive or not.  You will have a thought in response to that opportunity.  There are certain ways of thinking that will set you up to be productive and other ways that will derail you and keep you overwhelmed and unclear.    If you have confidence in the value you provide (or at least are in motion to upgrade your mindset and your skillset) then you will do work that moves your career forward.   If you don’t have that confidence you will pull the plug on your productivity.

Within an hour or two from now, you will already have an opportunity to make  a choice to have the confidence to be productive, or not.  What choice will you make?

FYI,  coaching the insurance guy developed a Productivity Mindset.   Four weeks later, the union gave him a piece of business that put $15K in his pocket.  They are now negotiating a deal 3 times that size.

And my client at the financial institution? After our first meeting she said,  “I always had somewhat of an “I can’t” attitude,  but since our first meeting I have been working feverishly and have been really focused.  I took an extra initiative and did a daunting project – this is the first time in years I contributed to the knowledge base for everyone in the department.  My boss said, “Wow,  this is GREAT” and thanked me.  I now know I’m contributing,  not behind the 8 ball.  Its been life changing, really.”

This is the beginning of a series of blogs and videos helping you to ‘get out of your own way’ and develop a Productivity Mindset.


Sharon Melnick PhD is a psychologist/coach/speaker who empowers talented and successful people to “get out of their own way”. Informed by 10 years of research at Harvard Medical School, she is a leading authority helping corporate employees and solo professionals get the confidence, focus, and inner security they need to be have control over their lives. Everyone who works with her finally becomes the person they’ve wanted to be and makes the contribution they were put here to make. To discover why you have not been as productive as you need to be, and how you can come home an hour earlier having accomplished your most important work, grab your free videos at

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