What Is Toxic Productivity?

Pallavi Kumari

9th Jun'22
What Is Toxic Productivity? | OpenGrowth

Let’s see how many of you say YES to these questions - 

  • Do you feel guilty while taking short breaks?
  • Do you consider your self-care a waste of time?
  • Are you unable to sit quietly for 5 minutes without doing anything?

            Okay, this is my favorite question -

  • Are you donating your vacation time to the client calls?

If your answer is YES to all of the above, unfortunately, you have entered one of the soul snatching phases of your work i.e Toxic Productivity.
I know that to most of you toxic productivity still sounds harmless. There are some words with whom we associate in a positive way even if it harms us in the long run. 
So, Let’s just understand first what is this toxic productivity and how is it sabotaging your health.

Danger zone - Toxic Productivity

For the past 2.5 years, everyone has been struggling to deal with remote work stress, the majority of us are still working from home. Now as you all have been working for a long time, we all got comfortable in this setup. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months and it has been more than 2 years now that we adapted to this ‘new normal, but it came with a price. Nobody got to know when we started grinding ourselves in the name of productivity. 
Right now, we are craving the 24/7 working mode, we are ignoring our food for important meetings, and we are compensating for our work duration at the cost of our health.  Even if our body is at rest our mind is always active, our work-life balance is a blur. 

We all have our commitments and responsibility but tell me how will you give your best when you never pause and rest. This could easily affect your quality of work-life balance.
So how to overcome this toxic productivity?
I believe there’s never too late to give something a chance, so I am here with these simple 5 tips to overcome this zone. 


Practice Detachment From Your Professional life

Laurie Ruettimann coined the term - “professional detachment” which is defined as an understanding that the tasks you accomplish at work are just a part of your profession and not your identity.  To elaborate this - you are still growing and productive, and your sense of worth is not dependent on your job.
See, your job is not your whole life, so even if you lose that lead, or found an error in your work - it is not tied to your self-worth. This mindset needs to be cultivated regularly.

Stay Firm on The Work-Life Balance

When someone interrupts your office meetings, you clearly state that you are at your ‘work’, right? So what happens when you are enjoying your quality time or relaxing and you immediately snap out of it, rushing to urgent tasks.
There will always be something going on in your life that demands your undivided attention, but you remember well that you are not a bot. You think about how to overcome this toxic productivity? Well, just be clear on boundaries and do not let anyone sabotage that.

STOP and Stay Still

My sister is an efficient and “‘never miss a deadline” person but in the course of her working hours, I never see her relaxing even for a few minutes. She can inform her team and take a few breaks but she doesn’t. See how toxic productivity is hogging her break time? 
I will do this “one last task”, ok how about this small “edit” and then I will stop. Stop making these false promises to yourself and practice staying still, do nothing, and just breathe.




Create a To-Do List

Most of you have a to-do list in front of your screen, but it is not categorized properly. And that is why you end up doing several tasks, still, you have pending left. So what is the remedy?  Have you heard of the Eisenhower Matrix?  It is an effective way to prioritize your urgent tasks and important tasks separately. It is divided into 4 categories -  

  1. Urgent and important
  2. Not urgent but important
  3. Urgent but not important
  4. Neither urgent nor important

Looks simple and fun, isn’t it? How about you give it a try today?

Take Small Breaks

There’s nothing shameful about taking a half an hour or a power nap between your work or taking a 20-minute break from your screen. Apart from your work create multiple happiness streams in your life.  It’s a simple hack to refresh your mind and recharge your body.

Practice Until Your Mind Absorbs It

You can read various blogs and books on how to overcome this toxic productivity?
But until and unless you don’t regularly practice the above 5 steps in your life, it is all futile. So stop delaying it, and at least implement one of the above things in your life, you will notice a tremendous improvement in your daily routine.


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Pallavi is fond of exploring different industries in writing genres and trends on Instagram.

When she is not writing, she is thinking about sustainability and making her surrounding a better place.