How To Use Submodalities To Increase Your Productivity

The weeks are flying by.

It's a good time to pause and reflect.

To assess your progress.

Are you ahead or behind on your goals?

Regardless it's a good time to use NLP processes to help you close the gap.

Like how to use sub-modalities to increase your productivity.

Sub-Modalities: A Power Tool For Powerful Productivity

If you are new to NLP, let me quickly explain what sub-modalities are.

As you know well, human beings have 5 senses.

Sight, touch, sound, smell, taste.

Within each sense or representational system, we have the ability of making finer distinctions about that sensory system.

To describe the "sub-modalities" of our experience.

For example within the visual system, a picture can be described as moving (i.e. a movie) or still.

It can be described as close or far away.

It will have a relative scale of brightness or darkness.

It may be focused and clear. Or hazy and blurred.

We may see it through our own eyes (associated image) or we can see ourselves looking at something (disassociated image).


All of these features happen for the most part outside our normal day to day awareness. They are fast and automatic.

That's both a problem and an ‘opportunity’.

How our brain codes experiences matters.

Which sub-modality references it uses affects how we feel about an experience AND what you'll do.

For instance, whether you'll take an action is impacted by how you represent that something.

'Cook it up' right and you'll conquer the tallest mountains.

Condition your mind to a diet of fuzzy, abstract and cloudy sub-modalities and you'll find yourself making little to no progress.

So the key take-away is:

The sub-modalities you habitually use to represent your goals directly affect the intensity you feel about the goal.

Which affects the likelihood that you'll take action (or not).

Remember that.

Often... size, colour, brightness, point of view etc play critical roles.

For many people the bigger the size and richer the colour; the bigger the impact it will have on their experience.

And action becomes automatic.

There is much, much more to be said about the powerful role sub-modalities play on our internal experience of the world.

So what's all this got to do with productivity and achieving your goals?


Your brain operates on the instructions you give it.

Feed it garbage instructions and you'll likely only get garbage out.

What classifies for garbage?

Fuzzy, blurry representations of the goal you are striving for.

Dark, small, defocused black and white images of what you want, positioned way, way out there.

Cloudy ideas of what you want to occur.

You get the idea.

Feed it rich, detailed multi-sensory representations and it will - spring into action and sustain you through tough times.

Having big, colourful, bright clear picture of what you are looking to have occur.

Seeing colourful movies play out with you seeing yourself taking the requisite actions to achieve your goals.

Hearing and feeling the excitement of certainty and happiness as you make progress.

Perhaps hearing yourself say "Yes, I will do this!"

This is just the beginning to using the conditioning in ACTION focused sub-modalities into your daily goal directed experience.

[The inverse is also often true when we find we aren't making progress on key goals - we're trying to force action when our brain says there is nothing for me to move toward or away from.]

Using NLP To Increase Productivity

You can use the distinctions shared here to ratchet up your productivity with very little extra effort on your behalf.


Externalize your work load.

For example, many people make the mistake of trying to keep everything they need to do in their head.

Or written down in a to-do lists.

The problem with option 1 is our brains suck at holding more than 7 or so ideas at once. And for most people it's less than three.

Perhaps as little as one.

So it's easy to get overwhelmed. Distracted. Off target.

Option 2 - keeping everything on a to-do lists, while better than option 1 has major problems.

Most to-do lists don't grab our attention.

Everything is the same font size, colour and basically looks much the same.

So for our brains - everything looks much alike.

Not good.

When things fall behind or goals go off course - there is no change in the font SIZE of the task to grab your attention.

And even when there is - it's usually some "overdue" tag that is out of line of sight of the goal.

Plus, most people have dozens of to-do lists.

Stuff hanging out in this list or that.

So it's easily forgotten.

The brain is overrun with stuff to track.

However, when you design your task list so you:

  • Visualise your work load
  • Can physically interact with it
  • Have specific limits set in place (to ensure you to stay focused)
  • And leverage key sub-modality drivers (colour, size, location etc. that trigger action)

Now you have the beginnings of a very powerful productivity and success driven process.

I use everything from whiteboards and post-it notes to virtual dashboards and all in one visual planning systems.

No one tool does it all perfectly.

But combined they create a powerful process for getting stuff done and staying on track on your most important goals.

What ways can you use these distinctions about sub-modalities to change how you work?

There are tons of ways....

One immediate example is whenever you fall behind on a goal rewrite it so that it STANDS OUT and grabs your attention.

Make the font bigger. Use brighter colours. Each day it is behind - rewrite it but make it bigger.

Add another difference.

For example:

Goal X - Overdue.

Goal X - Overdue.


So it screams out to your brain for attention!

(Rather than dissolving into the background with all the other work you have to do!)

If you are stuck on a goal or task for months but haven't been making any progress; figure out how you are representing it.

Chances are the sub-modalities of it are configured in such a way where NOT taking action is the RIGHT thing to do, from your brain's perspective.

So change how you are representing it.

Use any number of NLP processes to transform the way you represent it so that you've got clarity and it triggers action.

And action and progress will occur.

There's much more to be said, but you have plenty to get you started. To learn more about using NLP, sign up for our newsletter.

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I'm Tom.

Everyone has something they’d like to change in their life. I’m here to help you transform the behaviours that get in your way so you can have the life you really want.

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