toxic productivity

What is toxic productivity?

What is toxic productivity? How does toxic productivity affect you (in both your personal life and your professional life!), AND what is an alternative to toxic productivity? 

There are 5 aspects of toxic productivity for us to address today, and then I want to offer you a fantastic solution to this issue of toxic productivity…

What is toxic productivity?

1. Toxic productivity is: Working for the sake of working, rather than because there’s a purpose to the work you’re doing.

Have you ever been in a situation where you are going through the motions, you create this big long task list, but maybe you haven't really stopped to consider, “Why am I doing this work? What is the end result? What is the purpose of this work? Is this even really necessary? How is this contributing to my goals? How is this going to further my progress?” 

You’re going through the motions instead of focusing on the actual progress towards meeting goals; it's much more about “I'm working, I’m checking off tasks for my list, I’m working so much!” This goes hand-in-hand with the glorification of busy work. 

Again, it's kind of that illusion of productivity. It's really this illusion because you are so focused on just going through the motions and doing a whole bunch of different tasks that you're not really thinking about, “Is this actually supporting me and helping me achieve my goals and contributing to the bigger project, or is this just going through motions, through this hamster wheel of working, and is there a purpose to this work?” So that's the first aspect of toxic productivity.

2. Toxic productivity applies virtue to working. 

This goes hand-in-hand with over-working, hustling to the point of burnout, and working every weekend and evening. Again, it's not about the value of the work and the end result of the work and the enjoyment of the journey of working, but instead it's about feeling virtuous that you are working and having a particular idea in your mind about what it means to be a hard worker; what it means to be a good worker. 

Applying virtue to work can be very problematic. It can really spiral out of control, because as I mentioned, it can lead to a lot of things like burnout, it can lead to drastically overworking, chronic overworking, which is a huge problem for a lot of people and really gets away from the everyday enjoyment of your personal life, your hobbies and your loved ones, all these different aspects. 

Instead, it's simply about, “How much work was I able to do? How many hours was I able to work this week?” And that's not really thinking about, “What did I do during those hours, though? Was it useful or not?” It takes away the pleasure of the work that you're doing, and it also detracts from your ability to take a great interest. So that's the second aspect of toxic productivity.

3. Toxic productivity is: A neglect of your energy management. 

Focuses more on time management hacks and doing things as fast as possible than doing a high quality job. This goes hand-in-hand with burnout and overwhelm. The quality of the work that you’re doing, as well as the quality of your life, the quality of your mental health, or the quality of your thought processes, the quality of your relationships, all of those sorts of pieces — energy management is crucial.

Energy management is the foundation of good time management and healthy productivity. But it's when we neglect our energy management that can really contribute to tons of this toxic productivity. So that was the third aspect of toxic productivity. 

4. Toxic productivity is: Rooted in capitalist, patriarchal, white supremacy systems. 

This goes hand-in-hand with the idea that there’s a “one right way” to be productive, that there’s a one-size-fits-all approach and if that way doesn’t work for you, it’s your fault, rather than the system’s fault. This is a really, really big one. 

Everything that we are doing when it comes to this toxic productivity mentality is truly rooted in capitalism and rooted in the patriarchy. It's rooted in white supremacy. It's rooted in these ideas, these “ideals” that are built into all of those systems. It is designed to force other people down. It is designed to only promote white cis hetero able bodied men, so it's really important that we understand how toxic productivity is rooted in all those things because that means that being anti racist, being intersectional feminist, all of those aspects are really important for ensuring that we can overhaul this toxic productive mentality and create new structures of much healthier productivity and in much better ways so that it is fully customized for all of us; so that it suits all of our different needs, how all of us are very different people, we all have different needs, coming from different backgrounds, all of these types of things. And therefore the systems that we use, the methods that we use, the processes and strategies that we use, all need to be fully customized to us to accommodate for those. 

So that is the fourth aspect of toxic productivity. 

Toxic productivity is: Associated with guilt and shame and judgment around taking breaks or resting or putting your needs before your work.

This goes hand-in-hand with being very ego-driven and getting our sense of fulfillment and satisfaction from “proving ourselves” at how hard can we can work, rather than thinking about the results and goals and what it takes along the way… which goes right back to our first point of working for the sake of working. 

These five aspects of toxic productivity I just mentioned, they all feed into one another. They all support one another. They're all integrated. And so you will want to address each of them and unpack each of them to get the best benefits. But you will also find that by even addressing just one of these five aspects, it's going to have a positive effect on the other aspects and is going to start to undo the unhealthy aspects, the toxic aspects of those pieces as well. 

So they can support one another and feed into one another. But also when you start to chip away at one piece, that means that these other pieces are falling away too, which is really, really good. That's what we want. We want to undo all of this toxic productivity.

I hope you’re starting to see that toxic productivity, besides all the things I mentioned where it’s very problematic in many different ways, it is also actually inefficient, a waste of time, decreases the quality of your work, often saps the joy out of your work, and tries to make you conform to a particular box in which you live to work rather than work to live. 

If we go back to that purpose of “what is productivity, what's the entire purpose of being productive?” — Well, it's about being efficient. And if you're looking at toxic productivity, it actually makes everything really inefficient! Therefore toxic productivity is not real productivity. 

Toxic productivity is the illusion of productivity.

Toxic productivity is actually designed to make you more exhausted, to make you more burnt out so that you cannot escape the cycle of toxic productivity experiences. 

An alternative to toxic productivity...

If you now thinking, “Okay, I get that this is important. I clearly need to get out of this. What's the answer? What is our alternative to toxic productivity? I don't want to live in this system anymore! How can I escape it? What can I do at an individual level? What is the answer to toxic productivity??” What is toxic productivity? How does toxic productivity affect you (in both your personal life and your professional life!), AND what is an alternative to toxic productivity?

The answer to working through toxic productivity is anti-hustle productivity! That’s why I created Productivity Powerhouse, my signature anti-hustle e-course that teaches you how to make your productivity systems work FOR you — so that you save 10 hours/week, EVERY week, WITHOUT the overwhelm and burnout… ensuring you create a beautiful and enjoyable work/life balance, make amazing progress on your goals, and live your life and do work in alignment with your personal values, your lifestyle and personality wants & needs, and your vision for the future.

Get access to all of that — the concepts and theories and practical actions and customizable strategies — and more! — when you join Productivity Powerhouse

There you have it! Now you know what toxic productivity is AND you have your next step to overcome toxic productivity, once and for all, in both your personal and professional life: the answer is anti-hustle productivity, and EVERYTHING you need to know about anti-hustle productivity — including how to take strategic, customized action on it to implement it in the best way for YOU — is all yours when you join my Productivity Powerhouse e-course. I can’t wait to see you in there!