Toxic Productivity And How To Overcome It On National Workaholics Day
Woman sat in bed at night, surrounded by technologhy, working
Woman sat with many devices working at night. Credit: Getty

Toxic Productivity And How To Overcome It On National Workaholics Day

Becky Milligan July 5, 2022

National Workaholics Day is here and it intends to serve as a reminder to all workers that creating a healthy work-life balance is important.

This National Workaholics Day, July 5, we will be focussing on the culture of toxic productivity specifically, as a toxic productive mindset is easy to fall into as a student.

What is toxic productivity?

Toxic productivity is the mindset in which the individual feels that they must always ‘do’. It’s the mindset of always needing to be productive.

Woman overworked and sleeping on her desk. Credit: Getty

As a result, they may find it difficult to relax, and will instead find more work to do, even if burnt out. It is understandable why this mindset may be unhealthy, particularly as it means the individual may begin to neglect their mental and physical health.

Toxic productivity can affect anyone at any time, but certain people may be more likely to fall into the unhealthy thinking habits that stem from toxic productivity. This could include perfectionists and people affected by imposter syndrome.

What are the signs of toxic productivity?

Toxic productivity can have major effects on mental health. It can lead to low self-esteem, particularly because being unproductive may lead to thoughts of feeling like a failure.

Also, toxic productivity tends to make individuals hold themselves to very high and unreasonable expectations. This can cause self-esteem to suffer in the long run when they inevitably don’t meet their own standards. Burnout is another common consequence, as work essentially takes over their life and they don’t allow for downtime.

How do you overcome toxic productivity?

Toxic productivity can be difficult to notice in yourself when you fall into the mindset. However, if you know the signs of it, there are ways to work on overcoming it and ultimately creating healthier work-life balances for both the short- and long-term.

Recognise unrealistic goals and make them realistic

When setting goals, it can be easy to set goals that may not be easily achievable, if at all. Reaching goals can often be a huge self-esteem booster, as it feels good when we achieve what we set out to achieve. When we don’t reach this goal in the timespan we gave ourselves, we will tell ourselves that we are a failure. Therefore, setting reachable, realistic goals is helpful to help you get feeling a sense of achievement when you reach the goal!

Businessman Characters Vector art illustration.Copy Space, Full Length. Ladder of success concept, confused businessman looking up, the ladder is too short to catch up the goal flag on cloud.

Separate working from relaxing

Separating work and relaxation entirely helps to break unhealthy habits that put work above relaxation time. Working during your downtime defeats the point of having downtime. It is an important boundary to create for yourself to help achieve a healthy work-life balance.

Indulge in a self-care routine

Self-care looks different for everybody. It may be having an evening dedicated to pampering yourself, or it could be laying in bed by yourself listening to music. Whatever your self-care routine looks like, it is important to look after yourself; mind, body and all! Try to do this routine at least once a week, more if you can. This will allow you to recharge your brain and will help prevent burnout.

Schedule breaks!

Breaks are essential to helping you work more efficiently, and you should try to treat them as a need, not a reward or luxury. Scheduling breaks into your work routine throughout the day may help you to take these breaks without feeling guilty about it, as you know in advance that you will have downtime in between working. Try to take these breaks away from work altogether if you can, so you aren’t tempted to work through them!

Establish a time to stop working

Toxic productivity can make you feel guilty about not working into the night. Thus, having a definitive time to stop working for the day will help you to have the downtime you deserve. After this time, put away all work instead of leaving it laid out in sight and move away from your workstation. This way, you will give your brain the opportunity to wind down and re-energise ready for the next day.

The takeaway message

The key to not letting your work take over your life is to recognise when a productive mindset becomes toxic. Toxic productivity is harmful to healthy work-life balance in the short- and long-term, so it is important to create your own boundaries. Creating time to relax, completely separate from all forms of work, is one example of creating healthy boundaries. Remember, you can be more productive in the long run if you create a healthy work-life balance.

Have something to tell us about this article?
Let us know
Becky Milligan is a Freelance Writer for Freshered and a Lead Generator for PROP by GRV Media. The main focus of her articles is mental health, as she strongly believes in reducing the stigma surrounding mental health for university students through education. She also shares stories about her personal university experiences and gives advice for university living. She currently studies Psychology at the University of Sussex and volunteers for Shout 85258. She is an avid animal lover, with two rescue cats called Smudge and Oreo, and she loves to dance and sing in her free time.