Rapidly checking your emails while taking a call from your boss, and while shoveling your mouth with lunch, ticking off that 20 things to do for the day while still feeling inadequate and restless. You are now a part of the busy culture and toxic productivity.
If you follow me on my social media, you’d know that I’m a sucker for lists. I breathe, eat, and live by lists. That adrenaline rush you get when you tick off every single thing from your endless to-do list was something that I lived for.
Until it wasn’t fun anymore.
What is Toxic Productivity?
Toxic productivity refers to the obsession with radical self-improvement above everything else. Using one’s time wisely and effective is good. But not at the cost of harming your emotional and mental health.
Blame it on the pandemic and the many lockdowns we had over the last two years, there is a sense of doing more that is expected out of every one of us.
There is constant pressure to be available online or appear in a certain way that is socially acceptable.
Do you remember the ‘That Girl‘ trend on TikTok and YouTube? A girl who does everything aesthetically pleasing, who’s put her life together by waking up early, setting up her bed, working out, eating healthy, keeping her work desk organized, and so on?
All these ‘Morning Routines’ and ‘What I Do in a Day’ videos were fun and motivating to watch in the beginning but I started wondering ‘Why can’t I look like that? Why can’t I be That Girl?’ in no time.
If you do not learn a new language or craft, work out to be a thinner self, or write a book, then you have somehow failed. And that exactly is what toxic productivity is.
How to Recognize Toxic Productivity?
- Harmful to Your Wellbeing:
When the obsession of doing more goes out of hand, you tend to neglect your own health and relationships. You forget to eat and sleep on time and make time for your loved ones.
- Unrealistic Expectations:
Thanks to social media and the rising hustle culture, you are always wanting to do something productive. You are left with a huge sense of guilt even after ticking off everything from your to-do list.
You constantly have that thing to ‘do next’ at the back of your mind that you are irritated and angry all the time. You are constantly on the go and the fear of failure is ever present. It creates rift in your relationships as you cannot be mentally present even during a fun conversation with friends.
Ways to Combat Toxic Productivity
- Recognize that you’re being harmful to yourself:
It was difficult for me to come in terms with my toxic behaviour until it started affecting my health and well-being. I started feeling burnout and fatigue. Once I realized what was happening, I made conscious efforts to come out of it.
- You are enough!
‘That Girl‘ trend made me want to have all those cute organizers and workout clothes to achieve the picture-perfect life that I was pressured to live by. This hyper-demand of ‘everything aesthetic‘ was mentally exhausting at best. To understand that I am enough as I am (the key here being as I am) was tough but rewarding.
- Be disciplined about your screentime
I had the opportunity to join my husband for a few days, who is out on duty in one of the frontier areas of our country. The short visit of ten days extended to two months due to unavoidable circumstances.
But this also meant living with minimal internet connectivity.
I promise you, I was restless for the first couple of days without being able to scroll aimlessly and endlessly through Instagram. Yes, there is a reason why it’s called doom-scrolling.
So, once I started appreciating the ‘break’, I started enjoying my vacation a lot more. I listened to music, meditated in the mountains, took in all the pollution-free fresh air, and enjoyed every single moment as much as I could without feeling guilt or shame.
- Selfcare is not an indulgence. It’s essential.
Take small, intentional steps towards your selfcare journey. Be it detaching yourself from social media during meal times, setting seven hours of sleep at night, taking a break after three hours of continuous work, or setting specific time to spend with your loved ones or pets, set realistic expectations.
- Easy, tiger!
Go easy on yourself. Go easy on self criticism.
It’s okay to unwind and relax. This is not a productivity challenge or contest.
Choose happiness. Choose joy.
Productivity can be helpful to your daily work until it veers into toxicity. In this fast-paced world, take some time for self-care and look after your mind and body. If you continue to feel the signs of toxic productivity, seek professional help.
Views expressed in this post are personal and for reading purposes only. They’re not medical advice. Each individual’s experience may vary. Please consult a professional if you need help.
Ref: CNBC-> Read more on burnout here.
Toxic Productivity-> Dr. Julie Smith for BBC
This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter.
Shilpa Gupte says
I so agree with it Shalini.
There was a time, last year, when I was obsessed with getting it right as an artist on Instagram. And the amount of time I spent there…and yet I couldn’t get it right, like other artists I followed. That was when I realised my.journey was different, and that I needed to wean myself from this desperation to get it all perfect.
I have taken a step back from that platform since last week and to tell you the truth, I am in a much better space, I don’t compare my work with others, I draw as and when I find time and mood, and I am doing other things that keep me satisfied, like writing and my job and my pets.
It’s better to do what you want to do, when you want to do and how you want to. And to stay away from social media so that you stop comparing yourself with all those super achievers who seem to have got it all perfect. Right?
Felt so good to visit you after so long!