Toxic Productivity Myths to Leave in 2021

Photo by Andreas Klassen (Unsplash)

Are you ready to make 2022 the year of reinvention? In particular, let’s make it the year we finally abandon all those productivity myths that honestly don’t serve us at all. It’s time to leave all that hustle porn BS behind us, in addition to all the other toxic advice about how to get more done in less time or how to live our best lives. 

In this post, we’ll cover some of the worst productivity advice we’ve heard over the years and offer some alternative, healthier perspectives on how to achieve the elusive work-life balance we’re all after. 

What is toxic productivity?

Toxic productivity is the mindset you must be busy all the time to achieve your goals. Working long hours is encouraged, as is having multiple side hustles and pushing yourself to your limits to succeed.  

This culture can be seriously damaging. Over time, it can affect your mental health and wellbeing and lead to burnout. But, the good news is more of us are starting to recognize toxic productivity for what it is — a myth.  

Myth 1: Winners Hustle 

Hustle culture is one toxic productivity myth that can be hard to break. Despite all the Instagram and Tik Tok ‘hustle porn’ posts where people showcase their side hustles (and boast about how much they make in addition to their full-time jobs), there’s nothing smart about glorifying working too hard.

The World Health Organization (WHO) now includes workplace burnout in their International Classification of Diseases as an occupational phenomenon. So if you’re feeling the need to hustle all the time and feel guilty when you’re not working — you could be on the slippery slope to burnout.    

Do This Instead: Restore and Recharge 

What’s better than hustle culture? Give yourself time and space to create healthy boundaries between your work life and personal life. Rather than multitasking, take time to slow down. Stepping away from work to recharge is vital for our mental and physical well-being. 

This step away can look different for everyone — unplugging from tech may work for some people, while others will feel an immediate benefit from slowing down and getting outside. Experiment with a few different strategies and once you’ve found what works for you, set aside some time each week to recharge your batteries.

Myth 2: You Have to Start Work Early to Succeed    

People often wax lyrical about the benefits of waking up earlier than everyone else. But, unfortunately, this bragging can turn into a competition. Many people now believe people who get up early in the morning must achieve high. And the rest of us? Well, we must be lazy and unproductive. 

Luckily, this toxic productivity myth can get in the bin. Your personality type has a lot to do with when you’ll be most productive. One of the other factors that can affect productivity is distractions and multitasking. Being (or looking) busy isn’t the same as being effective. So while that 5 am riser might look like they’re achieving a lot, it’s not always the case.

Do This Instead: Define Your Rituals  

Instead of following the latest productivity trend, take a step back and decide what works for you. Of course, determining what’s effective will depend on your personality and your body’s natural rhythms. 

For some people, waking up early helps them get more done. For others, they’ll be more productive if they work later into the evening after a slower start to the day. If procrastination is an issue, start implementing strategies to help you focus. For example, setting aside some time for deep work and listening to music may help you work more efficiently.   

Take time to establish the times of day you’re most productive. Using a time tracker can help you identify pockets of productivity. You may see a pattern developing which you can use to your advantage. 

Rituals can also give us a sense of structure and a feeling the workday is about to begin. These rituals can be especially important if you work from home and the line between work and rest becomes blurred. So whether you choose to start your day with a cup of freshly brewed coffee or a gentle walk, give yourself permission to create a routine based on your needs. 

Myth 3: You Must Thrive Under Pressure 

How many job descriptions have you seen which mention a fast-paced work environment and that you must thrive under pressure? Pressure can indeed force us to get work done to meet deadlines. But no one can thrive under constant pressure. In the long run, extended bouts of anxiety at work can lead to burnout and chronic stress. 

While the short-term stress response of your body releasing adrenaline can make you feel like you’re super-productive, long-term pressure in the workplace can lead to a survival mindset. In addition, chronic stress can cause health problems. So even though we’ve normalized pressure in the workplace, it’s time to try to reduce it.

Do This Instead: Work Smarter, Not Harder  

The good news is in this new era of benefits; you get to define your terms. What works for your life may not work for someone else, and that’s okay. If you’ve had enough of working in a high-pressure environment, there are other options out there.   

You might prioritize remote working, while someone else may decide more paid time off is their main goal. There are also ways to make more money without increasing your hours. Got a spare room? Rent out the vacant space for storage. Not every side-hustle requires late nights, constant pressure, and financial sacrifice. 

Leave Toxic Productivity Behind

Rather than promote toxic workplace cultures that demand employees are ‘always-on,’ more companies and individuals are starting to realize busyness doesn’t equal success. Instead, the true key to success in a modern workplace is allowing every employee to find the right strategies that work for them. And leaving toxic productivity myths well and truly behind. 

After all, when you strip them down, they don’t serve any of us.   

Cover Image: Andreas Klassen / Unsplash

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