Everywhere we turn, people are pressured to do something productive. It is amazing to learn a new language, be a master chef at home, write another book, get everything in your to-do list done. But to what extent are we going to push ourselves to be productive? Is the quantity of work we do what defines our worth?
Even as we head to bed, we sleep thinking of our to-do list or feeling guilty that we weren’t productive enough. Being productive is great. But there is a line between healthy and toxic productivity.
Toxic productivity is an obsession with self-improvement; it forces us to set an unachievable goal and keep a high standard for ourselves; it causes burnout and stress, and leads to sleep-deprivation. Normal routines like sleeping, eating, social gatherings become a source of guilt. Many teens may believe being productive all the time is important but this easily results in toxic productivity, eventually leading to physical and mental well-being damage.
So, are you involved in toxic productivity? Here are few signs of toxic productivity:
You are not to blame for engaging in toxic productivity, as numerous factors around us influence us largely. Hustle culture is to blame; it is all about how “busy” you are. It forces 5:00am to 1:00am lifestyle with every minute being spent in something productive. Hustle culture programs the idea of “break is for the weak” in us. It makes us glad when we juggle millions of work at once.
I loved the hustle I had. I was proud of how much I could juggle at once. It soon took a turn. I was more than tired. My muscles were tense. I lost my concentration level and had constant breakdowns. Constant breakdowns and my inability to work like before made me realise I needed to take care of myself. I needed a break, needed to look after myself. I came across a podcast about working less and relaxing more, which helped me a lot.
There were a few changes I brought. I set up rules for myself - no work after dinner, go on walk, very limited work on weekends, etc. One change I brought in was “makeover of my to-do chart”. Rather than piling up all the work I needed to do in one sheet in Excel, I made a “Important, Urgent” chart. I created four different sheets titled as; “Important & Urgent”, “Important but not Urgent”, “Urgent but not Important” and “Not important & Not urgent”. It has helped me classify the time I will be dedicated to a particular work. In addition to the sheets, I created another sheet called “REMINDER”. This sheet reminds me to take a break, take a deep breath - just about anything I may not do while working. This technique was mentioned in the podcast and was taught during a leadership training I had attended. It has been really helpful!
There are multiple ways to help toxic productivity. Here are few:
Toxic productivity isn’t glamorous. Being sleep-deprived, working for over 12 hours with no break, not eating healthily, avoiding social events to work, forcing yourself to be “productive” and frowning upon self-care have nothing glamorous in them. We need to stop glamorizing toxic productivity.
The quantity of work you do doesn’t define your worth.
Take a deep breath.
You got this.
I write articles to provide space for others to relate, connect and hope. It is a way for me to Express myself and reflect. Writing gives me the opportunity to dream.