What Is Toxic Productivity & How To Keep It in Check
Productivity can be addictive. And there’s a really fine line between efficient and overworked. Toxic productivity is when you have an unhealthy and obsessive desire to be productive at all times and in all areas of your life. Getting a feeling of guilt for watching a movie or never allowing yourself a day off are huge red flags! Those behaviors are signs of toxic productivity. And this can take a toll on both your physical and mental health. As well as on your personal relationships. Being over-productive is no way to live!
We know what all of you overly productive hustlers out there are thinking right now. There is seriously nothing more gratifying than checking off the items on your to-do list. Getting that sense of accomplishment. It can actually be a high. However, hustle culture and the need to consistently be productive can get out of control. If you’re setting unrealistic expectations of yourself, tying your productivity to your self worth, or experiencing guilt during your down time, you might be suffering from toxic productivity and should considering getting it in check.
What Is Toxic Productivity & How To Keep It in Check
Toxic productivity is an unhealthy mindset that you need to be doing something productive at all times. Workaholic can definitely be a term used to describe toxic productivity. In recent years hustle culture has certainly contributed to toxic productivity leading many to burnout and unhappiness. More on toxic hustle culture HERE. However toxic productivity can manifest outside of work. There are many signs of toxic productivity, and the side effects can be serious. Think social isolation, unhappiness, feelings of not being good enough, anxiety, depression, and more ( source ).
Here’s how you can stop toxic productivity and create more balance in your life:
Cut yourself some slack:
Nothing flows when you don’t put yourself first. Avoid getting caught in the toxic cycle of trying to be productive during every minute of your day. Most of the time, you’ll be too tired to work efficiently, anyway! Cut yourself some slack and stop putting so much pressure on your shoulders. Actively tell yourself that you are enough, you’ve done enough, and that not everything needs to be complete in this moment. It’s okay to push things off, it’s okay to take a breath. Remind yourself that life isn’t just about what you do, its about what you experience and feel. If you need more tips for how to cut yourself some slack, this episode of Real Pod has a ton of info about how to stop being hard on yourself, redefining success, and being an overachiever .
Commit to regular downtime.
Intention is everything. So make a commitment to give yourself some time away from being productive. It might feel uncomfortable at first and you might feel the urge to be productive in your down time. For the serious cases of toxic productivity, some radical self-improvement may be required. However if you set the intention to allow yourself downtime, you’ll have success over time.
Adjust your goals and expectations:
Let’s face it, we all struggle with unrealistic expectations. Whether it’s thanks to social media, what our family expects from us, or our own self inflicted expectation. Setting the bar too high can be a good thing if you’re not too hard on yourself when you don’t reach those goals. However it can also be a bad thing if you’re constantly trying to live up to some ridiculous standard. So take an honest look at your goals, and make adjustments if they’re set so high that realistically you’re setting yourself up to let yourself down. It’s also important to set goals that are related to your happiness and wellness. Take time to ask yourself the tough questions and find your own definition of success.
No matter how productive you are during working hours, you still need to take breaks. Your performance and mental health suffer when you’re overworked. Taking short breaks on a regular basis reboots your brain and gets you ready to tackle the next task. Setting time aside for breaks requires time management and intention. You can schedule your breaks, use an app or time block tool, or stick to a routine that works for you, Also keep in mind that breaks are not only important during the work day. Take the weekend, go on a vacation, enjoy a dinner with no distractions. It’s incredibly important that you find time to mentally check out of productivity and just enjoy some downtime.
One of the most obvious signs of toxic productivity is being mentally preoccupied with work. So training your brain to focus on something other than work is a great practice for anyone suffering from toxic productivity. Meditation is a powerful tool and practice to soothe and clear the mind. If you find yourself constantly restless or thinking about being productive, take a break and meditate. It doesn’t have to be an hour-long meditation. Just 10 minutes can do the trick. You’ll be amazed at the power of deep breaths and ignoring all intrusive thoughts!
Stop comparing yourself to others:
It’s your life, and it’s your journey. What other people are doing is irrelevant. So keep blinders on and focus on yourself and what makes you happy. When you compare yourself to others that you perceive as doing more than you, you’re feeding the need to do more. So don’t compare yourself to other people in your family, at work, and in your social circles. Especially avoid comparing yourself to on social media. You’ll never feel productive enough if you compare yourself to a curated feed on Instagram. Remember that everyone has their own path, struggles, successes, and failures. So it’s impossible to hold yourself to standards based on their journey instead of your own.
If you’re struggling with comparing yourself to others, this episode of ILYSM is a must listen: Not Feeling Like You’re Doing Enough, Comparing Yourself, The Secrets to Tik Tok & Work Guilt.
Make self-care a daily habit:
Self-care is crucial when it comes to putting an end to toxic productivity. I mean let’s be real, one of the first signs you’re overworked are those dreaded eye bags. Your skin, fitness, hydration, and sleep can all suffer when you’re stuck in a cycle of being toxically productive. So make self-care a habit. Dedicate time to a wellness, fitness, food, or beauty routine. Schedule a regular spa session. A self-care habit can even include journaling, exercise, meditation, yoga, reading, breathwork, baking, pretty much anything that makes you feel your best. Self-care is all about you, after all!
Kick off your self-care habits with this episode of With Whit: Liz Vaccariello And I Discuss The Highly Sought After Work-Life Balance And The Crucial Role Of Self Care.
Establish boundaries between your work life and personal time:
You’ll need a few guidelines for your ideal work life balance. These are totally personal and based on what you believe you need in order to avoid toxic productivity. Maybe this mean you do not work more than 40 hours per week. Or maybe you set the simple rule of not checking emails after 8pm. Whatever your boundaries are, get clear and help yourself stay within them. Boundaries with yourself are crucial! For more on boundaries, see this post on setting boundaries with family.
Get at least 8 hours of sleep:
Listen, you won’t be productive at all if you don’t get enough sleep. That’s just a fact! And one of the first signs of toxic productivity is that sleep isn’t made one of your priorities. So to get out of the toxic relationship you have with being productive, sleep is essential. The National Sleep Foundation advises that healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Any less than that for a continued amount of time and your mental health and productivity will both be affected. So don’t let your work day mess with your sleep. It’s not worth it in the long run. Aim for the good old 8 hours a night and you’ll see what a difference it makes!
Are you curious about the science of sleep? On this episode of The Gabby Reece Show they talk all things related to sleep schedules, sleep avatars, sleep hacks, & everything you need to know about sleep with Dr. Michael Breus.
Hold yourself accountable:
This is the only way to ensure you will keep toxic productivity in check. Hold yourself accountable for your habits and keep track of them. Did you get enough sleep last night? Did you eat breakfast this morning? Have you meditated yet? Make a self-care to-do list and motivate yourself to put your wellbeing first.
Learn more about self-accountability in this episode of Recovering From Reality where Alexis joins Kat Von D to discuss the topic: Ep. 104 Self-Accountability and Sobriety with Kat Von D
Spend quality time with your loved ones:
Social isolation and putting important relationships on the back burner is definitely an indicator that you’re toxically productive. Plus, having a safety net can make all the difference when struggling with toxic productivity. Check-in with your personal relationships. Spend quality time with them and unplug from your work life and social media. Be present and in the moment when you are with someone you care about. Sharing your free time with others will help you resist the temptation to go back to work.
What are your tips for avoiding toxic productivity?
So that is our guide on how to deal with toxic productivity. Hustle culture might sound fun and motivating, but your mental health comes first. Always give yourself time to relax and recharge! Are you suffering from toxic productivity? Let us know your favorite ways to avoid getting caught up in this cycle. We love reading your comments! Stay healthy, everyone!