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Toxic Productivity: What Is It & How Do You Avoid It?

Toxic Productivity: What Is It & How Do You Avoid It?

Toxic Productivity

A few weeks ago we heard a story about a 30-something-year-old man having a stroke. Yes, 30-something. He was known for clocking in first at work and being the last to leave – and to his boss that was admirable. Well, it turns out that unknown to him, all those late nights and early mornings were having negative effects.

This brings us to our topic of today – Toxic Productivity. Since 2016, heart attacks among 20 & 30-year-olds have increased by 2%. It used to be that heart attacks were more common among older adults 40 and above, but now 1 in 5 heart attack cases are younger. What does this tell us? There’s something really wrong going on.

Toxic Productivity

Every time we dive into the causes of these early health issues, the topic of Toxic Productivity comes up. In layman’s terms, Toxic Productivity means;

Working to the Extent that it Harms Your Health/Personal Relationships

With the rise in ambition, working multiple jobs and working against the decline of society and currency value, we are definitely doing more. This is the age of the Architect/Content Creator/Bitcoin Trader/Chef – where multi-hyphenate jobs are requiring the most from us. Now don’t get us wrong – by all means be all you can & want to be. But not at your expense. There comes a time when you have to find out where your limits are and choose not to push them. Because one day they’re going to push back.

If you think you fall into the category of those who practice Toxic Productivity and are not sure, here are some signs you should watch out for.


Unrealistic Expectations

Every day comes differently. Just because you had a highly productive day yesterday, does not mean you will have the same today. If you beat yourself up over not meeting targets that can wait, not being up to par when you’re ill, or things you can easily overlook, there’s a problem.

Having a Problem Staying Still

If you’re about to sleep and start to think – “I could be answering those e-mails right now” – this is for you. Toxic Productivity affects your sleep and makes you dislike stillness or rest. Vacations, spending time listening to your kids tell a story, just chatting with friends all seem like a waste of time. The time you think should be used working. Slow down and breathe…you’re not helping.

Ignoring Signs from Your Body

Has your ankle ever gotten swollen from sitting too long? Do you suffer from constant headaches/migraines? Is your back aching? Do you have palpitations? Our body has many ways of letting us know when something is wrong. If you are ignoring these signs, you need to stop and check yourself. Don’t get to the point where your body just decides to shut down like an overworked computer.

Now that you’ve isolated the problem, what are some solutions? Well…

Set Realistic Targets

Toxic Productivity

No, you cannot run all those errands, write 4 reports and still attend your daughter’s cultural dance presentation. Juggling all those balls simply won’t work – something is going to drop. It is important to know your limits and work with them. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses will help you work smarter and eventually produce better results. Don’t beat yourself up – re-align and look for a smarter way.

Determine Rest Points

Toxic Productivity

It’s easy to get sucked into work. One minute it’s 8 AM and the next you’re wondering why it’s dark outside. Ensure you take breaks by setting the breaks intentionally. Set alarms every hour or two to prompt yourself to take that break. You can even align it so certain times in your household like picking the kids from school. If you take your rest seriously, it will pay off completely.

See Also

Have an Accountability Partner

Toxic Productivity

If you can’t do this alone, get someone who can help. An accountability partner will help keep tabs on how you’re resting and nudge you when you’re going overboard. You can even team up with someone who also suffers from toxic productivity and check in on each other.

Define Healthy Work Barriers

Toxic Productivity

If your 9 – 5 has turned into a 24-hour job, you need to rethink your job. Having healthy work hours directly affects everything around us. It affects our relationships with our husbands, kids, family & friends, it affects how you eat & sleep and ultimately making time to enjoy life. Your boss isn’t likely going to give you the free time because in the end there are deliverables. It is up to you. Plan your work around your free time and get your time back.

Schedule an Activity

Toxic Productivity

This is a great way to step away from your screens and just do something else. You can schedule your workout, take a walk, nap, listen to music, call a friend…you get the drift. And if anyone calls you to work, tell them you’ll be available after your activity.

We hope this helped you in more ways than one. Don’t forget to let us know how you de-stress.

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