Getting Over Toxic Productivity

Written by Amanda Ramaningrum, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia

Have you ever heard about hustle culture? This term is common these days, especially among young adults. Hustle culture is a lifestyle that forces people to overwork as the way to earn respect, whether it be from others or themself. In short, this culture glorifies overworking. Sadly, this phenomenon is more considered to be ‘normal’ in this pandemic situation. 

So far, one of the most negative traits that show up because of this culture is toxic productivity. This can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, and occupation. Feel guilty for lying down all day and doing nothing for a day, getting anxiety attacks whenever you try to rest, the thirst to get more and more big triumphs to get validation from others. Working like there is no tomorrow– must complete all to-do lists, take all the work, even neglecting eating and sleeping time– overall, you must be busy. Cause if you’re not, it means you’re wasting your time. 

If you experience any of the above, maybe you’ve been stuck in what we called toxic productivity. But, even though we are more conscious about this trait, why do we continuously do that? 

It’s addictive

Well, getting praised and constant validation makes you feel good. Who doesn’t like that? It’s the same as posting on social media. When we get a large number of likes on one post, it makes us crave more attention– we will post again, wishing to get the same or more likes. 

It is natural for people to have a desire to be known by others, which makes us willing to do anything. Like humans, getting validation and feeling good about it isn’t wrong, your feeling is valid. Just, in this case, we gained validation through overworking that is not healthy for yourself. 

On the other hand, there are people who overwork themself. They notice the big progress after successfully completing the entire long to-do list. There is the satisfaction that arises after being super productive. It makes them feel fulfilled and proud of themself, and that is why it is addictive. 

The last type is people who overworking themselves to avoid problems. Being busy keeps them focused and makes them forget about their problems (that they want to avoid). The question is, until when will they avoid their problems? Working hard is good, but try to differentiate between hardworking and overworking.

Better you know, overworking to get those advantages is not worth it. The absence of life balance will lead you to more problems, and after the exhausting way you go through, you’ll slowly lose your closest circle, even the worst; you’ll forget about yourself. 

Oh no, you’re burning out

Constantly busy with no time to rest will burn you out. And the worst thing about it; it’s not come in one night. This will happen slowly without you noticing, and when you do, everything is already broken. It comes from the habits you build day-to-day, such as not having clear boundaries, sacrificing sleeping time, skipping meals, or rejecting a friend’s invitation to go on vacation. 

Slowly but surely, you will lose your stress management skills. Lack of motivation, exhausted all the time and feels like drowning in responsibilities. Even the things that were pleasant to you before didn’t give you any pleasure anymore. It’s a sign that you are burned out, and you need to get out of this cycle. 

You never run out of time

We always have time. Take a breath, and try to slow down. Enjoy the progress. A small step is progressing too, small things matter. There is a quote that says, 

“Don’t ever compare your first kilometers to someone else’s 10th”

Everyone has their own pace and so do you. Here are some tips to get out of this toxic cycle;

  1. Clear your boundaries. Put your mental health first! If you’re not in a good mental state, no one of your work will have good results. Rejecting some additional work, having a break from social media, or not working on weekends will help you to get over this cycle.
  2. Add self-care to your to-do list. Your body and mind have been working 24/7 for you, so add self-care to your to-do list as a form of self-respect. Pampering yourself, watching your favorite tv shows/movies, dancing to your favorite music. In short, be present and enjoy your me-time. 
  3. Celebrate your small win. All the work you’ve done takes a lot of your energy. Giving self-reward is a form of self-love, too. Enjoy your small wins. 

A little rest doesn’t make you less than others. In the end, the one who will accompany you to achieve all your dreams is yourself. So, take care and love yourself, for your sake too. Cheer up!