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Toxic Productivity Culture


Let's talk toxic productivity culture. I would personally say that I feel the mentality to be constantly busy and overworking came about the most at the beginning of the lockdowns that were a consequence of the pandemic. The more time that people spent inside their homes, the more people felt the need to show that they were actually working and not 'lazing' around, when we had 'extra time' to be productive. What is most interesting is that despite being busy myself, I have previously felt guilty about not doing enough work because it appeared that other people online had been accomplishing more than me. I certainly wasn't alone in this as I became aware that other people also knew this feeling all too well and it took some time to understand that despite the prerogative that people possessed to share whatever they wanted online, it was only ever going to be a fraction of the real inner workings of their day to day life.

I am a fan of social media for the good it can do and I don't think that I will be massively changing my social media habits any time soon. With the boom of social media influencers driving the advertising industry (more on this on another blog post soon), social media sites have become a hub for entrepreneurship and showing off the very best parts of your life. Even if authenticity is at the forefront, a social media page is completely curated by an individual how they see fit. So, because you are no longer online just to see updates from people that you know, I have come to the realisation that there has to be a level of consciousness at present to know that not everything that glitters is gold.

So we know that toxic productivity culture manifests itself as: when people online show themselves to be extremely busy, insinuating that if you're not doing as much work as them then you're being lazy. Therefore, you feel pressured to be more productive, when you actually already are. But how do we actually identify it day to day?

  1. The glamourisation of overworking longer than a person's contracted hours

  2. People saying that if you don't have multiple streams of income then you're not going to succeed in life

  3. Contradictory statements: someone overworking and then telling you that overworking is awful

  4. The ludicrous saying "You can sleep when you're dead"

  5. Hearing that work should take priority over everything else at all times

  6. Being made to feel guilty for watching TV, sleeping or just resting during time off instead of being 'productive' by watching TED Talks, reading an educational book or working on a side project

Etc. etc. etc.

If you can scroll down Instagram and see or hear some of what I have mentioned, you need to discern as to what messages you need to take note of. Of course, sometimes seeing other people being productive can be a motivator to work a little bit harder to reach your goals (shameless plug of my last two blog posts on goal setting) but overall, other people's productivity or work schedule should not dictate your own, especially when you're in different fields/working on different projects. As long as you get the job done, the road to getting there doesn't really matter if you're doing it in a healthy way. Personally, I feel really guilty or bad for not being a morning person, when I see people online or around me getting work done earlier in the day. However, I plan my day really smartly and I work very hard so my schedule allows me to get the same amount of work done as other people, despite it being a little later in the day. Should I force myself to be a morning person? Maybe it'll give me more time, maybe I'll just be more exhausted to actually complete my work to a good standard, so what I do now works for me and if it needs to change, it will.

How do we stop being all consumed by toxic productivity culture?

It's a very complex answer. It's like asking when will racism end? Most especially when toxic productivity occurs in real life, in addition to being online. But what we can do is can take individual approaches to minimise how much of an impact other people's lives can have on our own. It's not healthy to live life by other people's metrics, especially when we each have very differing priorities and responsibilities, aside from work. Remember that constantly overworking will absolutely negatively affect your personal relationships too. Here are some practical questions that have helped me take what I read online or see in real life, with a pinch of salt.

  1. Look at your work schedule, is it balanced with some personal time?

  2. If you are overworking, is it necessary at this time and do you actually enjoy the work?

  3. If you choose to overwork, can you schedule some extra downtime any time soon to prevent burnout?

  4. Can anyone help manage the extra workload?

  5. Are you overworking because you keep making mistakes? If so, you need time off/take a step back first

  6. Do you consistently get work done on or around an allocated deadline?

  7. Do you actually need a side hustle for extra income or are you feeling pressured to just appear busy?


Have a real good think about these factors the next time you begin to feel terrible about how much/how little you think you're working and I guarantee you'll realise that you’re already working as hard as you need to be at that given time. If you need help with productivity or want to implement some smarter working habits so that you're not overworking, don't worry I got you! My next blog post will stay on the theme of productivity and I'll be providing some PRACTICAL tips on improving how you schedule/manage your workload, without having to work 80 hour weeks when you don't need to.

I hope you enjoyed your read and this post helped you overcome that 'not good enough' feeling that we have all come face to face with at some point. Make sure to SUBSCRIBE & head over to my Instagram page for even more content!

Until next time,

D x

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