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  • Asad Ali

We are all victims of Toxic Productivity

I love to be productive and I always want to be productive. Though I feel something has been off lately.

I fell into a trap.

We tend to value our productivity over our mental health. What is Toxic Productivity?

It can be defined as an obsession with radical self-improvement above all else. Our society expresses a lot of value for productivity

  • We reward the best students

  • We’re impressed when others pull all-nighters

  • We glorify the entrepreneurs who boast about their work ethic and lack of sleep

What are some key signs of Toxicity?

  1. Having unrealistic expectations for ourselves and ignoring important information. The pandemic has had a detrimental impact on us and many of us are expecting our level of output and productivity to be the same. We are working under stressful conditions at home and these unrealistic expectations make an already traumatic situation even worse.

  2. Difficulty with rest or stillness, we might struggle to be alone with ourselves anytime we’re not busy working. When we finally take a break or let ourselves have a day off, we might feel guilty. Alternatively, we could feel a sense of restlessness or emptiness during moments of stillness, play, or other things we may label in our head as “non-productive.”

  3. We might notice feelings of lower self-worth when we aren’t producing, creating, or working in some way, or the classic way of comparing ourselves to others that we see as more productive than us.

Why must we compare ourselves to others?

How to break the cycle of our toxic productivity

  1. Set realistic goals; adjust as needed. It’s important to consider the context when setting goals. Always set up a timeline on how we want to achieve our goals. #shamelessplug check out my blog on goal setting

  2. Reframe what it means to rest and take breaks. Rest is essential! People who take breaks end up being more productive than people who don’t. Rest is a vital part of our productivity and should be used as a tool to help us reach our goals more effectively. It makes sense to schedule breaks regularly throughout our day rather than when you're burnt out.

  3. Don’t be productive, be smart. Don’t be productive just for the sake of being productive but Instead, be smarter about how we reach our goals as efficiently as possible.

Best practices in managing our toxic productivity

  1. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is a way to help us connect to ourselves and the present moment. We learn to be more aware of our body and needs. Calm and Headspace are two apps that I highly recommend if you want to give mindfulness a try.

  2. Rework our boundaries with work, or clarify them to serve us better. Establish a few “baseline” boundaries and then refine as needed, such as:

  • No more than 2 hours of work at a time before taking a break

  • No more than 40 hours of work a week

  • Eat at least 2 meals a day

  • Sleep at least 7 hours of sleep

3. Heal our self-talk.

We find ourselves caught in a cycle of chasing accomplishments that give us a temporary sense of worth. As this wears off we start our search for another accomplishment to make us feel valuable. “Hustle Culture” is all about how “busy” we are, with every hour being spent doing something “productive.” It makes us feel proud of juggling a million things at one time because the project never ends.

To heal our self-talk, we must start seeing that our value is not in what we do, but in who we are. It’s best to take a step back and learn how to say NO. Positive affirmations are an excellent way to heal our self-talk and build our self worth Here are five affirmations that I say to myself every day.

  • I’m healthy

  • I’m worth it

  • I’m positive

  • I know when to say no

  • I’m confident

Do we define our sense of self-worth by how productive we are?

What we need to remember

Remember, it’s about you, so we don’t have to compare ourselves to others.

We should do what brings us genuine happiness as that’s our tool for success.

Who cares what others are doing and where they are in their own race.

We need to focus on our own well-being and the lane in front of us. What are we really accomplishing if lack of sleep and nutrition is causing us anxiety, restlessness, and poor mental health?



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