An image of a mac with the slogan 'do more' on screen, on a clean desk with shelving units.

TOXIC PRODUCTIVITY

A busy scene: checklists, schedules which span the whole day, from the dewy morning to the midnight sky- a sense of urgency, to get things done and to conquer the vague concept of time.

Productivity is everywhere. But, usually, when we talk about productivity, we’re talking about work, or excess responsibilities. How often do we talk about being productive by taking the time to look after ourselves? How often do we feel that we are wasting our time by doing the everyday things which keep us alive?

Self-development and minimalism so often collide with productivity that it would be possible to mistake them all as inherently connected. But, contrary to popular representations, self-development is not about becoming the most productive version of yourself. Productivity is just ONE facet of living a successful life. To say that productivity isn’t everything, shouldn’t be a controversial or surprising statement. Yet, in the world of self-development, it is.

Productivity IS something to strive for, to avoid the murky depths of procrastination, to have focus on the pieces of work which are important to us, but the prevalence of productivity pushing, and unhealthy productivity, turns it into something it’s not.

It’s a familiar sight: the ‘how to be more productive’ titles, the pan shots of work desks, close ups of notebooks, pens, spreadsheets, bullet journals, to-do lists. The motivational videos, influencers boasting their long lists of habits, somewhere underneath it all, bitter that their motivational video is taking up another piece of their time, another moment they won’t spend on the really important things. We’re supposed to be productive at all hours, of all days. Productive in work, productive in personal life. The implication behind it all: to be human is to be productive, and if you aren’t being productive, you’re wasting your time.

All this toxic productivity is having an effect on us. We walk around with the belief that to be busy is to be well. Even during the pandemic, how many of us have spent our time believing that if only we can be productive, that everything will be alright? Is there really something wrong with it, though, can it really hurt to be productive?

-Yes. Productivity in the extreme gives us the illusion of control, while sending us into a spiral downwards, leading to inevitable burnout. We could all do with less productivity content. We could use that time spent, reading about the new habits we must adopt to be more productive, and instead give ourselves boundaries in our work and productivity. It’s only when we allow ourselves those boundaries, and ensure that we abide by them, that we can truly be productive in a beneficial and healthy way.

How will you re-assess your concept of productivity?

Featured image: Carl Heyerdahl via Unsplash.

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