How You Can Apply The Placebo Effect To Increase Productivity

“In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can” (Nikos Kazantzakis).

I believe I have a great amount of willpower and I’ve always wondered where that comes from.

Is me believing I have strong willpower enough to make it true?

Everyone knows the Placebo Effect – if you believe you are taking medicine, it will work, even if it is fake – so does the Placebo Effect stop at medicine?


Placebo Effect Ties Into Our Egos

A more common way of working this effect out is the phrase fake it till you make it.

If we say we are good at something, such as public speaking, chances are we will have better results speaking in public purely because we want to believe we were right.

We tried harder because we got ourselves to build off our own ego.

We know that we don’t want to be wrong and disappoint ourselves, so we try even harder because we are expecting it of ourselves.

If we negatively think of ourselves in some aspect, that’s more likely to become true because we are allowing ourselves to expect worse results.

Holding ourselves to higher standards is our self psychology that allows us to perform at our best, even if it isn’t as great as we might believe it to be.

As long as we believe we can do something, that increases the chance of being able to accomplish it a lot more than going into something with no confidence, expecting to not do well.

So can we trick ourselves to change in ways we may underlying believe to not necessarily be 100% true yet?

If I say, “I am a very productive person” will that make me more productive simply because I don’t want to disappoint myself?


Can We Use The Placebo Effect In Our Work?

If you allow yourself to do some self reflection, you can apply this to your work through practice.

Thinking we aren’t good enough makes us perform worse, or even not perform at all. So if we are performing, we must be able to achieve something?

Think about this example:

If you are working a 10 hour day, you start to get tired and exhausted thinking you need to stop soon. A coworker asks, “Are you O.K.? You seem really tired.” Depending on your response, you might change the rest of the day’s outcome.

If you say, “Yea, I’m fine, thanks.” You are – even in the slightest bit – going to believe what you said and feel a bit better. Maybe it’s because you were able to say it and not break down saying you feel terrible. Maybe you want to believe you’re O.K. so you push through to the end.

Regardless, if you look at it from the other possible outcome, you can see the impact.

If your response to the coworker is, “No, I’m really tired, I need to get out of here and go home fast.” Then you’re sympathizing for yourself and basically admitting it’s O.K. to start under performing. You might even feel more tired just because you think you need to exaggerate it to really show how you feel.


Does Knowing It’s The Placebo Effect Stop It?

No, it won’t, only if you make it work and truly believe what you are saying.

Because this isn’t a medicine applied Placebo Effect, it needs your help to make it work.

It’s self psychology, tricking yourself into believing something is one way attempting to make it that way. Again, you have to be willing to believe it.

Keep yourself encouraged and it will become true because you are – fake it till you make it – pretending to be that way till you start to believe it yourself.  In terms of motivation and productivity, this is what we all need.

And if saying, “I am good at public speaking” isn’t enough for you to believe, you can try a trick I learned that is typically applied to help reduce anxiety.

Switch the first person to second person.

Saying, “Ethan is good at public speaking” to myself get’s me to actually feel it is true because I can see myself outside of my own eyes.

When we say “I” we are limiting our perception to how we know ourselves from the inside which may be riddled with anxiety. Looking at it from the outside we can see where our strengths actually do lie, and how we, as a person, might perceive ourselves if we were someone else.


Is All Of This Really The Placebo Effect?

Yes and no. As stated earlier, the Placebo Effect is “If you believe you are taking medicine, it will work, even if it is fake.”

In this case, this obviously isn’t medicine. This is how we think of ourselves and how we perceive our strengths and weaknesses.

It can be called the Placebo Effect because it’s fake confidence boosting or even fake treatment for oneself.

Applying the same principle as the Placebo Effect, expecting to see results will make your brain help bring them. So why wouldn’t thinking positive things about ourselves trigger that to happen?

You can choose to believe what I’ve said is true and apply it yourself and see if it does change anything. Or you can choose not to believe it and, in the case of better or worse, the former has a better chance of helping you improve.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: