Toxic Productivity

Excess of everything is harmful to us. This is not limited to alcohol or junk food but also includes work. Not many people are aware of this but toxic productivity in our ‘hustle culture’ affects many people, especially the youth.

We all feel satisfied when we get all our work done at the end of the day. However, toxic productivity takes a step ahead and people begin to find their worth through their work. It creates an obsessive cycle of work where no matter what you do, you feel that you could achieve more. It leaves no space for rest or taking time off because someone out there is working harder than you and taking rest only means you don’t wish to achieve your goals.

A major sign of toxic productivity is not paying attention to yourself. This can include not exercising, not having proper meals, or not socializing. People often start neglecting their health as they are so obsessed with their work, and if they do get time to exercise and eat right, they forget to interact with other people. Humans are social beings and require interaction in their daily life.

People caught in the cycle of toxic productivity also stop feeling happiness in little things. Remember when we were kids and even small things like ice cream could make us extremely happy? As we grow older our idea of happiness also changes. We start associating it with big things like promotions or getting a major client. Moreover, people who deal with toxic productivity don’t even feel happy once they achieve a goal. They immediately start focusing on the next step or the next goal.

Lastly, if you start feeling guilty for taking a time off you may be dealing with toxic productivity. Everyone needs a break from time to time, that’s why the world decided to take Sunday as the day you get off. But, hustle culture shames people for even taking a Sunday off because it is often associated with laziness.

Toxic productivity has increased significantly since the Covid 19 pandemic. A lot of people started their own businesses or found time for their hobbies. While this motivated many people, it also made several others guilty for not doing the same. It is easy to feel unproductive when someone your age started their small business or someone wrote a whole novel while also studying full-time. Motivational YouTube videos and many self-help books also inculcate this feeling in some way or the other.

It is important to break this cycle of unhealthy work conditions. People must always take some time out for themselves and do something they love. It can be exercise, dancing, baking or even playing video games. It is also important to put a check on your social media usage. Remember that nobody really posts their failures on social media.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by work, it is okay to take a break. Contrary to what the hustle culture tells us, life is not a sprint race, but rather a marathon. Not taking breaks, overworking, and continuously pushing yourself will not lead to increased productivity, but only reduce it. You can also seek professional help. The Internet has made mental health professionals accessible and many also offer free services.

To sum it up, toxic productivity has become a major problem amongst the youth. This is not limited to working professionals but is also seen amongst students. It is a condition where people begin seeing their self-worth through their work. They stop taking breaks, start skipping meals and focus their entire attention on their work. Many also begin to disengage from their friends and family and spend all their time working.

It is important to end this cycle as it can only hamper your health in the long run. Several companies have begun realizing this problem and have started giving mental health leaves to their employees. To ensure you don’t get caught in the cycle of toxic productivity, you must take breaks, spend time doing things you love, and most importantly focus on your mental health. 

-Manu Agarwal

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