Toxic Productivity: Are You Caught in the Cycle?


Table of Contents

"I must work even during my time with family and friends, to do better"

"I should complete tasks without taking breaks, only then my efficiency and productivity will be optimal"

"I have not done enough"

Have you found yourself saying these statements to yourself?

Does your productivity influence the way you feel?

Do you prioritise working beyond office timings?

If your answer is "yes" to the above questions, you are in an unhealthy cycle of toxic productivity.

Toxic productivity is the intense desire to be productive at all costs and at all times. It is the compulsive need to be better, causing one to be preoccupied most or all the time.

The cycle of dissatisfaction keeps one on the grind, impairing other areas of life such as family, friends as well as self. It also impairs prioritising tasks at work. The dissatisfaction can build up and lead to guilt and at times – fear. One endures performance pressure constantly and ends up working for most hours of the day in order to stay in control and feel worthy. Such a cycle can drain one's energy, leading to exhaustion.

What can be done to break the cycle?

  • Set boundaries to the time and energy being invested in work and practise professional detachment beyond office hours.
  • Prioritise other aspects of life during your personal time and accept the break you have everyday.
  • Choose your tasks on a daily basis and execute them according to their level of importance.

The Eisenhower Matrix can be employed where

importance is there on one axis, and urgency on the other. The four categories are:

  1. Urgent and important
  2. Not urgent but important
  3. Urgent but not important
  4. Neither urgent nor important

The first quadrant is top priority, the second quadrant can be considered, whereas the third and fourth quadrants should be avoided as they may not have much impact.

When one does not acknowledge and resolve toxic productivity, it can lead to burnout, irritation, fatigue, disinterest, hopelessness and so on. Thus it's necessary to be aware about the stage one is in and incorporate necessary changes.

“Don't confuse having a career with having a life.”—Hilary Clinton