Toxic Productivity

At this point, most of us have been spending an unusual amount of time at home. I know we’re procrastinating and spending way more time online than we usually do. But there’s another aspect of this isolation that I’d like to speak about – being obsessed with productivity.

We live in an age where we’re bombarded by people’s success. Social media makes us showcase the best aspects of our lives. There’s always a story of someone who started a multi-billion dollar company from scratch. Apps that revolutionize the world. YouTubers making millions from every video. IG influencers living off their posts.

How can productivity be toxic?

Something I haven’t really thought about before was the concept of ‘toxic productivity’. Which is essentially our obsession with being busy and finding things to do. Our somewhat unhealthy pursuit of success and greatness. Largely due to our subconscious comparison to those around us.

This may not be relevant to all of you, but it’s an important concept to understand.

I’m someone who tends to fill every second of my day with various activities; trying to make the most of my time. This can be great, it allows me to get a lot of shit done. There are certain moments in the day where I just can’t sit still though, I almost itch to find more work to do – that’s when it becomes a problem.

We need to give our brain time off to just relax and digest ideas. It can’t always be about the next assignment, the next meeting, the next goal, the next objective, the next game, the next blog, the next video, the next post, the next meal to cook.

There’s a big difference between being busy and being productive.

Workaholism and hustle culture have played a major role in our lives over the past few years. We’re told to stay productive, work harder, sleep less, exercise more, keep pushing until you drop!

Productivity without the toxic aspect

I’m not saying that we should procrastinate or stop being productive. I’m trying to bring to your awareness that there’s a threshold to your work ethic, before things start getting toxic. We have to embrace the concept of being bored sometimes and allow ourselves to just be.

Don’t overwhelm your schedule with unnecessary work, space it out where possible. To-do lists can be a great tool to stay on track with your tasks, just ensure there’s not too much to do.

Use your time wisely and allocate space for rest and recovery.

Work smart, not just hard.

Understand your attention span. We’re not really effective after sitting in front of the same task for about 45 minutes. The mind starts to wander and efficiency starts to drop.

Take breaks regularly to basically hit the refresh button. Listen to your body and respect your limits. Take deep breaths. Don’t push yourself to the point of sickness.

Understand the sacrifices you need to make in order to succeed. There’s a certain way to push past your current limits, by first understanding what they are. Set objectives to slowly leave your comfort zone; consistently.

This post is a reminder to myself before anyone else, that there’s definitely a point where working no longer becomes efficient. It’s crucial for us to be mindful of that, so we can optimize our schedule to get as much done (how ironic lmao). This needs us to account for rest and periods where we aren’t unnecessarily finding things to do.

Keep up the great work and don’t allow failure to stop you from moving forward. Fostering a growth mindset is the best thing you can ever do for yourself and those around you.

Stay realistic and take it easy. You got this.

I’d like to know more about your relationship with productivity. Let me know in the comments below!

23 thoughts on “Toxic Productivity

  1. I was reading an article on this and the writer was saying that we’re productive up to a certain level like say the first few hours when the day starts, after that the quality of our work starts reducing he called it the law of diminishing returns and we start making mistakes cause the mind is tired. But I agree that there is a difference between being busy and being productive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing that. It definitely makes sense and I can personally attest to that haha. There’s also how our attention span has a threshold. We think it’s all about spending time on a task, but it’s actually about spending the right amount of energy in that time.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. The concept of time seems to be moving so strangely in this period. It feels like it’s dissolving right through our very fingers and that we’re trying too hard to grasp it. Thanks for sharing that thought 🙏


    2. True that, it’s a bit like prison, people are doing what they can with their time. It’s an interesting exercise to observe whether or not they’ll continue their newfound activities once life is back to normal.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. As always, very useful and informative.
    May be consider the 80/20 (pareto principle) , which allows us to achieve more with less.
    Some direct relevance to your ideas and suggestions here. Enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very interesting post as always, Muller. I think the aspect of toxic productivity is more that humans are competitive by nature, and marketing/branding is a very powerful tool recently, combine these two you have social media were people are “successful”, usually due to reasons other than the ones they claim. A lot of people are made insecure by this, and are mislead, as they try to follow that branded person’s activities (they forget that it’s usually an act/marketing) to succeed instead of following their own path. In essence, you become someone else, so you’re acting as an actor acting as someone else.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I love the concept of how we’re made insecure by the marketing techniques. It always boils down to one thing: capitalism. (haha)


  4. I agree with this! There has been quite a demand for productivity ever since the quarantine began. Though it is good to keep the mind preoccupied, this kind of mindset can go overboard especially when pressure to accomplish is added into the mix! This was a good read

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. We’re definitely going through uncharted territory and we have to be mindful of our it’s affecting our health – both mental and physical. It’s especially important that we don’t compare ourselves to others on social media and to rather focus on what we need to do to make progress.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a really great post. Enjoyed reading it. I wrote something similar in terms of enjoying the beauty in just existing. Sometimes, we are so caught up in the rat race of life and in pursuit of happiness that we fail to allow ourselves the breathing space to just be.
    Here’s my post-
    Hope you enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

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