What is Toxic Productivity and How to Identify It

Anxious to start work? Does it feel unhealthy? Well you could be dealing with toxic productivity. Here's how to fight it.

All around the globe, people have been forced to work in bizarre circumstances for such a long time now. 

I am saying bizarre, because as days went by, months, the entire year, we kept living with a sense of insecurity, not knowing quite what is going on, watching our loved ones get sick and experiencing a major all year lockdown. 

The pandemic has hit us all in different ways, and we all had (and keep having) different ways of dealing with this ongoing anxiety. 

For some people, it was very much needed to take continual breaks from work, to spend more time with our family, to go for a walk or simply stay still and meditate. 

These were all quite healthy coping mechanisms, and one of the topics that was discussed intensely is that we could not continue forcing ourselves to be productive, considering the circumstances.

Yet again, some people were highly productive. Not just that, they thrived during the pandemic.

They worked for countless hours during the day, took only a few hours of sleep during the night, only to start work early in the morning with no breaks in between to take a breath. 

This, ladies and gentleman is toxic productivity. 

“Toxic productivity is essentially an unhealthy desire to be productive at all times, at all costs. It’s the need to go the ‘extra mile’ at work or at home, even when it’s not expected of you” – Brittany Wong, Huffington Post

How can you tell that you have it? It is pretty simple. You put productivity in front of pretty much everything: eating, drinking, socializing, resting, sleeping. 

When you desperately need seven hours of sleep, you postpone your rest for ‘until this work gets done’. 

Once work is done, you go to bed feeling guilty for sleeping in and you wake up the next morning fully anxious, waiting impatiently to sit and get to work, so you can be ‘productive’, that notorious measure of our successful self.


What are the signs of Toxic Productivity? 

Luckily, there are some things that you can do to understand whether your productivity is toxic or ‘about normal’. 

The first sign you will probably notice as you work impatiently and immensely is fatigue. Check out how you wake up early in the morning. Do you always wake up drained, feeling like you got no rest at all? 

And then after you wake up, notice how anxious you are until you get to your laptop or office, to continue work where you left off. 

Are you driving like crazy, rushing the hell out of yourself, only because you are anticipating the moment where you start doing work again?

You will start to notice that your productivity is jeopardizing your relationships, health and entire wellbeing, as you rely on unrealistic expectations you have on being constantly productive, otherwise, as a trait of toxicity, you’ll be feeling like a failure.

And last, but not least, you will notice how you will be feeling restless. 

The inability to relax, enjoy the moment, and simply enjoy the simple pleasure of not doing anything will always be there, because your mind will be wandering at that report you’ve got pending.


Removing Toxic Productivity

The one thing you have to remind yourself when feeling restlessness, is that productivity does not define you. 

With or without it, you are a human being just like everyone else, and your natural habitat will demand that you sleep, relax and recharge in order to start again. 

You must understand that there is no meaningful work or real productivity, without investing in your well-being and practicing some self-care rituals. 

Only with an equal balance of relaxation and work, will you be able to be your best, working bee, at your full potential. 

I know that society is out there constantly trying to call us out on doing something new, learning another language, taking a new course, following new social media trends and podcasts.

 Remember, you have the choice. Simply shut them all down and take a rest. The reward will certainly be healthy productivity!

It’s always good to hunt for a simple life.

The Benefits of Pursuing ‘A Simpler Life’

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