Toxic productivity is a dangerous trap that can lead to burnout and negative mental and physical health effects. Learn about the signs of toxic productivity and tips to break free from the harmful belief that your worth is tied to your work output.
What is Toxic Productivity?
Burnout is viewed by 40% of employees as a necessary component of success. However, the reality is that extreme production cannot be maintained over the long term. It's far too easy to begin gauging your self-worth by how much you can accomplish when you push yourself too hard for an extended period of time. You begin to feel bad for spending time doing things you used to like, such as taking a walk, reading a book, or talking with family and friends at the dinner table.
This is toxic productivity. But remember that you are not alone and that things can improve. Do you feel overworked, pressured, and unable to switch off your thoughts? Workaholism and "going the extra mile" at all costs is a dangerous trap many have fallen into, often leading to skipped social activities or neglected sleep, exercise, or other good health practices. These things can put one’s physical and emotional welfare in danger. The constant rush of the workplace can lead to toxic productivity, which is overworking at the expense of other aspects of your life.
Due to the tendency for overwork to be portrayed positively, it can be challenging to recognize this harmful mindset. Fortunately, you can move away from toxic productivity and recover your life once you become aware of it and take the necessary steps to avoid it. When employees are happier and less overworked, team morale will be boosted, and employees will feel greater satisfaction.
Seeing The Line Between Work and Life
The lines between work and living have gotten increasingly hazy as remote work has become more prevalent, and even when enjoying time at home, people feel that they must demonstrate that they are working. This can make setting the task aside and paying attention to yourself even more challenging.
The drive to always "do" is one manifestation of toxic productivity. You might feel unable to relax or take a break. And when you're forced to, you can't relax and take it in because your mind is too preoccupied with what else you "should" be doing.
Although being productive can be great, toxic productivity is not good for your relationships or health. It becomes a problem when completing tasks takes precedence over getting enough rest or attending your daughter's piano recital.
Research shows that this workaholic lifestyle can significantly affect mental health and work-family conflict. In other words, this toxic thinking leads to burnout. True productivity requires a balance of focus and rest, and without it, the caliber of your output degrades. Can you create something worthwhile when you're out of gas? Not likely. At some point, you simply run out of things to give.
Unfortunately, some people use toxic productivity as a coping mechanism for dealing with challenging life circumstances. It might develop gradually until a troublesome circumstance escalates into a crisis. It doesn't have to be this way, though. If you can detect the signs of toxic productivity, you can reverse the process and begin to live a more healthy and happy life.
Signs of Toxic Productivity
You feel like a failure when you are unproductive.
One of the essential ideas in being productive at work is to stop working when a task is finished. This is different for someone motivated by a strong desire to be productive at all costs. If you don't finish work-related things, toxic productivity might make you feel like you have failed, even if you are actually succeeding and doing fine.
You judge yourself by the amount of unfinished work.
The creation of a milestone map is essential for evaluating efforts. When you evaluate yourself primarily on what you still need to accomplish, it's too easy to lose sight of what you have already done. This can lead to panic and overworking. Instead, focus your energy on celebrating your personal and team accomplishments to drive motivation going forward.
You like to push yourself too hard.
Do you take on too many tasks at once? Are you often angry at yourself when you can’t finish them all on time? When you take a step back, you’ll realize there’s no need to lose sleep trying to reach a deadline. It’s important to know that when you’re feeling tired and foggy, it’s time to stop the job and pick it back up tomorrow. In order to stay on track with tasks, try improving your time management skills. That way, you’ll have a set time for working and a set time for rejuvenation.
You feel fatigued and weary much of the time.
A symptom that you're indulging in toxic productivity is feeling particularly weary. You feel worn out when you first wake up in the morning. Pushing yourself too hard will lead to this kind of fatigue. The morning hours can be some of the most productive, so it’s best to feel awake during this time. If you notice yourself feeling drowsy in the evening, it’s best to stop working and restart with fresh energy the next morning.
You feel guilty when resting.
Remember that you are entitled to a full rest period during your leisure time. Anyone used to working nonstop without regular breaks and days off could feel guilty anytime they have even a fair amount of extra time. This demonstrates that the habit of toxic productivity is well-established. Instead, focus on trying to enjoy your breaks. You can do this by doing something you love during your time off– try exercising, reading, walking your dog, or calling a friend. It’s important that time off is spent on matters unrelated to work.
You fear losing your job.
If you are concerned about losing your job, unhealthy workaholism may develop. Therefore, make an effort to identify the origin, reason, and setting for these worries. Fear of losing your job is not usually a result of failure on brand-new projects or confrontations with coworkers. Be as conscious as possible of your thoughts, feelings, and actions since, often. Our worries are rooted deeper than we think. If you need more direction in this area, set up a one-on-one meeting with your manager and ask for a performance review. You’ll likely find that the feedback you receive isn't all negative and will help you do your job better.
The Dangers of Toxic Productivity
Toxic productivity can be harmful to both the worker and the employer. A person who spends all their free time working will eventually run out of energy and become burned out. Such a worker will perform much worse at work and be unable to finish tasks that seem straightforward. To avoid this, you must monitor your health and learn to manage your time wisely between work obligations and rest.
Long-term toxic productivity is harmful in a variety of ways, including:
You get less sleep, which affects your cognitive abilities and makes it harder for you to concentrate.
It raises the likelihood of poor nutrition, which can lead to subsequent diseases like weariness and malnutrition.
You run the danger of losing contact with those who matter to you.
Your actual productivity eventually declines due to the aforementioned reasons.
Even if you accomplish a lot, you may need more than toxic productivity to complete the most important, long-term tasks.
How to Reverse a Negative Trend
Set Workplace Boundaries
The pressure to always be productive can be lessened by setting work boundaries, such as allocating enough time for sleep, spending time with family, and engaging in hobbies. You may regain your work-life balance by setting aside time every so often to turn off your work email and phone. It may be difficult at first, but if you do it on a daily basis, it will become a habit that will help you maintain a good balance between work and the rest of your life. Communicate the boundaries you set so that your coworkers know when you’re taking time off from work.
Self-awareness is the summit of psychological well-being. The absence of it may result in negative behavior. People who are emotionally self-aware know how their emotions impact them and how well they perform at work. In addition, they refrain from judging their worth based solely on their work output. They recognize when they need sleep, food, relaxation, etc., and they maintain a good balance between work-related activities and their other needs.
Set Reachable Objectives
You can distinguish between tasks that need to be performed right away and those that can wait by setting flexible, realistic goals. You and your manager can select the most crucial daily duties and professional goals to work on. This way, you keep tasks in perspective and can focus on important things while letting less-important things wait.
Take Care of Yourself
Toxic productivity can make you feel that you are never doing enough. This can lead to many emotional challenges. Therefore, of utmost importance is taking care of yourself! It's about treating oneself with kindness at all times, but especially when you're most in need. Positive self-talk, good music, good food, social interaction, plenty of rest, and a healthy dose of recreation can go a long way toward helping you maintain a healthy perspective on your work and productivity.
Keep in Touch with the People You Love.
Stay in touch with your loved ones to avoid losing yourself in your work and losing touch with reality. Maintaining contact with people enables you to change your focus, learn new things, and just have fun. Your family will be there for you during tough times and will let you know if there are any signs of toxic productivity. In other words, keep the lines of communication open to keep life interesting and intriguing.
Foster Team Interaction
You can effectively collaborate with team members when you have the necessary workplace tools. For collaboration and teamwork to be successful, there must be mutual respect and a spirit of cooperation. Therefore, take time to cultivate good communication between your team members to create a positive work environment. Reach out whenever you have concerns. Be transparent in your interactions. Treat others with respect and give yourself and others the benefit of the doubt. In other words, be generous and forgiving when dealing with yourself and others.
Seek Help from a Mental Health Professional
Finally, if toxic productivity symptoms persist after following these measures in your job and personal life, seek assistance from a mental health expert. It’s possible that they may help you form new habits of thinking and feeling that will allow you to move forward positively. Sometimes our attitudes about work come from past events that we may have forgotten. Getting to the root of those beliefs can be useful in liberating our minds and ridding ourselves of toxic habits.
In brief, the feeling of being overburdened and doing too much at the price of one's health is what toxic productivity means. It can be put up with for a while to accomplish a pressing objective, but you should avoid it over the long haul.
A quick way to assess your personal situation for toxic productivity would be to list the things you already do or still need to do. Then consider the consequences of not completing each activity. Be honest with yourself and drop those things that are hindering your work-life balance.
Toxic productivity occurs when employees spend all their time working and measure their success only based on the quantity of work they produce. An optimal level of productivity is achieved when work and life are balanced.
Toxic productivity is caused by spending too much time on work tasks, to the point where time spent with family, relaxing, sleeping, or taking breaks is neglected. People who suffer from toxic productivity will have trouble staying focused and healthy long-term, so it’s important to curb this habit before it gets too serious.
Toxic productivity can be transformed into a healthy level of productivity by learning how to take breaks and paying attention to your body’s nutritional, sleep, and personal needs. Additionally, by making a schedule and sharing it with friends and family, your loved ones can help you stay accountable.