If you are used to constantly doing instead of allowing time to just be, play, enjoy, and rest, you are suffering from toxic productivity.
Toxic productivity is the inability to let go at work.
The culture we live in encourages toxic productivity. When you are unaware that you work too hard, the cost reflects on your health, relationships, and life quality.
Here we explore ways to learn more about what is toxic productivity and how to make sure you don’t make it your lifestyle.
What is Toxic Productivity?
As opposed to healthy productivity, toxic productivity is the compulsive need to be continually active and do something to the detriment of life areas that don’t generate immediate productive outcomes.
Toxic Productivity in Psychology
Toxic productivity is also known as action bias or doing bias.
This tendency to repeatedly do something at work or at home without thinking through the results you are producing or how they fit in your goal framework causes burnout.
However, burnout is not the only negative outcome of toxic productivity. If you are always looking to produce quantity instead of quality, the results are subpar.
Forward planning, analysis, and reflection are necessary to get optimal results. You need a break to stop, plan, analyze, and reflect without feeling exhausted and guilty for not producing quality at the end of the day.
An Example of Toxic Productivity
Lawyers or doctors that work long hours often can’t take a shorter working day. It’s the nature of the job.
If, for some reason, you belong to the same group and cannot shorten your working hours, plan long weekends to avoid burnout and increase productivity.
Breaks are essential to productivity, and working too many hours will just not create the results you want unless you intertwine work with play.
Play is responsible for developing higher-order cognition. Higher-order cognition skills include concept acquisition, systematic decision-making, evaluative thinking, brainstorming (including creativity), and rule usage.
Simply put, play, especially social play, makes you smarter.
Social play is about activity sharing with the basic purpose of having fun. For example, going out with friends to eat and have interesting conversations is an important part of that grown-up play.
Three Destructive Habits to Avoid for Better Productivity
You may not even notice the effect they have on your work results, but these three habits are destructive and lead to burnout and workplace overload.
- Working during vacation. Don’t take your laptop on vacation to complete small tasks or oversee projects. That is not a vacation. You need a proper holiday to nurture your play and rest side.
- Working during weekends. Many people have the habit to respond to emails and texts during the weekends or other periods they have set to take off from work. Don’t do that. Unplug in your free time.
- Multitasking. Working on too many projects at once gives a false sense of accomplishment. In fact, doing too many things at once without focus is the sure pathway to more stress. Choose projects that bring the best clients and teams on the board.
People fall into the toxic productivity trap for many reasons. One of them is the toxic productivity work culture that pushes people to always do more.
Watch the video to learn one crucial tip about healthy productivity:
Reasons for Making Toxic Productivity Your Lifestyle
If you’re looking for external validation without seeking internal alignment with goals, you can easily traverse into toxic productivity. Other reasons for the productivity malignancy include:
- It feels more comfortable to do than just sit still.
- Doing something is a means to feeling fulfilled, worthy, and in control.
- Having no boundaries for when enough is enough.
Healthy productivity encompasses sustainable improvement. Radical improvement is not sustainable in the long term. In fact, toxic productivity kills sustainability.
However, you do need to push yourself past your limits but only until you reach a point where you need to retract to where you have been and reflect on where you need to go.
Healthy productivity is grounded in realistic goal setting, sustainable improvement workflows, and tracking your results with KPIs.
How to Stop Toxic Productivity
Toxic productivity leads to burnout because there is a trend for radical self-improvement that never ends. Here is how to escape it:
- Be aware of the cultural pressure to always be available online. Set availability times and stick to them.
- Having unrealistic expectations about yourself results in self-harm. Identify SMART goals and dedicate to micro-commitments.
- You can recognize harmful productivity by having the feeling of restlessness when doing nothing. Restlessness can be a result of underlying feelings you’re trying to avoid. Investigate them.
- Don’t measure your self-worth by the amount of work your produce. This leads us again to the question of quality vs. quantity. Create quality standards for your work.
- Understand that self-care is not an indulgence, it is necessary. Find time for play, stay in peace, joke, walk for no purpose, or dance.
- Motivate your interest-based mind. Find activities that captivate your attention and creativity, challenge yourself, and have a structured plan for completion until you gain momentum.
- Ultra-productivity and slacking are not the only options in life. Life is not always a contest. Find balance and choose joy and pleasure when you’re overwhelmed to escape the toxic productivity trap.
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