toxic productivity

5 Reasons Why Toxic Productivity Is Ruining Your Mental Health

27 September 2021 | by Astley Cervania

Are work and productivity the only things on your mind?

I don’t blame you. As workers, many of us feel the need to do something productive at work and in our spare time. This toxic productivity is a real problem.

Most of us are associated with social media one way or another. It’s common to see things that emphasise the values of hard work, hustle, and self-improvement. And quite often, we tend to lose ourselves in the process. 

Like everything, there’s a limit. 

If you’re:

  • Checking in with work during time with your friends or family.
  • Always making yourself busy and ‘on the go’.
  • Valuing yourself based on your work.
  • Constantly concerned with productivity. 
  • Feeling guilty when taking breaks.
  • Struggling to have fun. 

Then, there’s a good chance you’re probably experiencing the toxic productivity mindset. 

what is toxic productivity

What’s toxic productivity culture?

Toxic productivity is when one is fixated on getting work done and ensuring they’re being as productive as possible.

Often, this mindset is determined to over-exceed the expectations no matter what. 

Another way to put it is extreme workaholism. It’s not much different than work addiction

Nowadays, it’s easy to compare yourself to others and get lost in the loophole of society’s expectations. 

We’re in a culture where self-improvement and professional development are being preached day in and day out. You may hear a lot of people and gurus online making it clear that they work 12-14 hours a day, seven days a week.

As a result, you may start to feel worthless, guilty, or anxious because you’re not achieving the same things they have.

toxic productivity problems

What’s the problem with productivity? 

There are more than physical consequences when it comes to extreme productivity. Not only are you exhausting yourself physically, but you’re also putting your own well-being at risk. 

To be more precise, there are 5 reasons why productivity is ruining your mental health. 

1. You neglect the other aspects of your life

Life’s about more than just doing work. 

When productivity becomes a dominant part of your life, it’s natural to slowly exclude and isolate yourself from everything else. 

Before you know it, time flies by in an instant. As you stay focused on working and committing to a schedule, it’s easy to forget about the other things that matter.

Some of those things I’m talking about include:

  • Relationships
  • Health 
  • Spirituality 
  • Purpose
  • Your time

Your finances, education, and career are just as important. The only problem is the lack of work-life balance. 

2. You avoid the root of your problems

Work is a good distraction to avoid facing the roots of your problems.

There’s an underlying problem if the main motivation behind your work ethic stems from negative emotions. These roots are what could be causing sadness, loneliness, and even depression. 

Avoiding this by overworking yourself only prolongs those feelings and deteriorates your happiness further. 

Hustling hard will only make you tired and burned out. It doesn’t solve everything. 

3. You have a lack of gratitude 

You’ve always focused on chasing something that you don’t have to the point you forget about the things you do have. 

As Oprah Winfrey once said:

If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.

It affects your mindset when you’re not satisfied with your progress.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s inspirational to be ambitious, passionate, and have goals to pursue.

The only downside is if you get caught too deep in your desires, you won’t live a more fulfilling life since you forget to appreciate the little things.

4. You have feelings of emptiness 

Are you left with an empty or hollow feeling at the end of a workday? 

Perhaps the work you’ve been focusing on all this time isn’t as fulfilling as you expected. Somehow, it’s not as meaningful anymore.

It all becomes a systematic routine that you follow on a daily basis. You just tell yourself to get to work like a robot without much consideration of anything else, besides how productive you are. 

Sometimes, when you work so hard towards a goal you lose sight of the bigger picture. To the point, it becomes lonely and no longer adding to your genuine happiness.

5. You’ve lost your social skills 

This is relatable between many workaholics and those who spend most of their time in the office. 

Eventually, you lose your sense of self and forget that you have a life outside of work.

Since productivity and hustle is the main thing you’ve been concerned about, your social life declines. It’s not uncommon to feel as if you no longer know how to interact with others in a social setting because you’ve been taking everything so seriously. 

You may also lose your sense of fun and forget how to enjoy things. As you spend so much time isolating yourself from the world, it’s natural that you forget how to socialize and be yourself. 

toxic productivity mindset

How to escape the toxic productivity mindset? 

Take a step back to clear your mind from your working life and enjoy some downtime. We’re not robots programmed to work countless hours without rest. That’s what makes us human. 

Here are some steps you can take to escape the toxic productivity mindset:

  • Set realistic goals and expectations. 
  • Recognise every milestone.
  • Add downtime to your schedule.
  • Spend more time with friends and family.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others.

When it comes to productivity, what matters more is not how long you work but what you manage to get done within the allocated time.

How do I get motivated to be productive?

One reason we tend not to be satisfied despite all the hours we put into our work is that we don’t see any significant results. It almost feels like running in circles, which is common for any entrepreneur or startup company.

To address this, acknowledge every step you take.

Remember that success is a journey, not a destination. In other words, enjoy the ride. 

A productivity hack is to have fun in what you do and to not be so hard on yourself. Shift your mindset optimistically and you’re more likely to keep going without feeling frustrated.

Don’t obsess over what you don’t have. Reverse engineer every objective into small actionable steps and set realistic, measurable goals. 

Addressing Toxic Productivity Culture 

Working hard is one thing. Toxic productivity is another. 

It’s commendable being productive consistently. However, hustling hard like a machine only makes you tired and less effective. 

Hard work is a great virtue but it needs to be balanced. Above all, your physical and mental health is one of the most important things that should be taken care of.

While it’s admirable to have a strong work ethic, nothing is worth the expense of your own wellbeing. 

So, ask yourself if what you do genuinely makes you happy. If that’s not the case and the main energy behind your work ethic stems from negative emotions, it’s time to switch things up.

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