Toxic Productivity Mindset: 8 Signs and 12 Ways to Overcome It

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We have normalised hustling. Work calls at any time and all work through laptop, has resulted in a lifestyle disturbance. Being overworked and stressed seems a normal thing nowadays. This toxic productivity is causing more harm than good. In this blog, I will help you recognize this mindset and share how you can get out of it.

You’re always busy doing some work. You don’t want to sit for a few minutes doing nothing. Doing nothing or doing things other than work gives you a feeling of restlessness.

Being productive is the only key to achieving your goals. However, this obsession with working constantly often leads to a toxic productivity mindset. Toxic productivity is a mindset that prioritizes work and results above anything else, even at the expense of your mental and physical well-being. 

You work long hours and push yourself beyond your limit to achieve the targets and deadlines. Productivity is important but you must know the difference between healthy and toxic productivity. 

A toxic productivity mindset can lead you to believe that one must be constantly working, busy, achieving goals, pushing yourself harder, and always indulging in producing the result to become successful. 

You have normalized hustle culture and you believe that if someone is not hustling, they are not doing their best to achieve their goals. So, today, let’s learn about this mindset that’s slowly plaguing our society and see how you can recover from it if you’re suffering from it too. 


Toxic Productivity Mindset: 8 Signs and 12 Ways to Overcome It

Toxic productivity is the urge to be productive every time, not only at work but in other areas of life too. You neglect other areas of life like your family, your hobbies, and even your health for it. You value productivity over these real treasures of life. This often leads to burnout, stress, and you constantly feel overwhelmed

First, let’s acknowledge what causes this toxic productivity mindset in people:



6 Causes of Toxic Productivity Mindset

Here are 6 reasons that might be responsible for building a toxic productivity mindset in you. 


1. Competition

You don’t want to be left behind in the race. If your colleague is giving 12-14 hours, you will be inclined to do the same. If you don’t do this, you will be made feel bad by others. These thoughts can easily lead you to build a toxic productivity mindset, where the thoughts and opinions of others on your work become much more important than anything else. 


2. Perfectionism

Perfectionism is linked with a toxic productivity mindset. It happens when you set unrealistic high standards for yourself and feel anxious when you don’t meet them. This creates a fear of failure. It can obstruct your creativity, your imagination, and overall growth.


3. Remote Work

After the pandemic, remote work or working from home became a norm. This left no boundary between your personal and professional life. You have to be constantly available for both as and when required. This has led so many people to build a toxic productivity mindset which ends in nothing but excessive stress, burnout, and sincere health issues in some cases. 


4. Imposter Syndrome

If you suffer from imposter syndrome, you may even get plagued with lots of self-doubt and even self-hate in some extreme cases. You may not trust your skills and abilities. Working harder than necessary in such cases can cause toxic productivity. 


5. Company Culture

Many companies, even today, promote the work output and completely neglect work-life balance. The work environment can cause people to overwork, leaving little to no room for rest and recovery. This can easily lead to forced productivity which adds to the toxicity of the work culture in the company. 


6. Underlying Issues 

Sometimes to take your mind off from emotional pain and underlying issues, you may find ways in your work to avoid them. You may keep yourself busy all the time to keep away from such thoughts. It distracts you from feeling emotions you would rather not want to feel or confront. In this way, toxic productivity can become a coping mechanism to avoid feeling unwanted emotions.

How Toxic Productivity Impacts Your Health? 

Toxic productivity can have a serious impact on your mental as well as physical health. Here are some ways how that happens:

  • The constant pressure to perform and the fear of failing can lead to chronic stress and anxiety. You constantly feel on edge and that’s why unable to relax even in your leisure time.
  • Meeting unrealistic expectations can lead to burnout, a state of chronic physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. Burnout has various symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, and decreased motivation.
  • If someone is trapped in this mindset, they may often experience sleep issues, like difficulty falling asleep, having racing thoughts during sleep, etc. Irregular sleep and meal times can also cause type 2 diabetes. 
  • Chronic stress can lead to various health issues, including cardiovascular problems, weakened immune systems, hormonal imbalances, and digestive disorders.
  • This toxic mindset can also strain your relationships, as you focus more on work over your personal connections and neglect your social support system. 

Recognizing the signs, and understanding the impact of toxic productivity in your life is crucial to escape from its damaging effects. 


8 Signs that You Have a Toxic Productivity Mindset

In today’s competitive world, if you spare some time to help someone or if you are available to guide someone, you will be considered not serious about life. 

Yes, being productive is essential for achieving your goals and living the life you want. People today wholeheartedly believe in “no pain no gain”. You have some goals and you want to put in your best efforts, there is nothing wrong with it. But there is a fine line between healthy productivity and toxic productivity. Sometimes you don’t even know what you are doing is toxic.

Here are 8 signs that will help you recognize it and take measures to break free from it.  


1. Feeling Guilty

You may feel guilty for taking breaks, relaxing, or pursuing activities unrelated to your goal or work. You can’t enjoy your free time. You get the feeling that you are wasting your time. You have set unrealistic expectations. Even after finishing 80% of your to-do list, you criticize yourself for the rest 20%. You do this regularly.


2. Feeling Inadequate

You constantly compare yourselves to other’s accomplishments. You measure your worth with someone who is achieving more. This is when you need to understand that every person is different. Their potential, opportunities, capabilities, and ways of doing things are different. So, here’s your little reminder to get over the comparison and bloom at your pace.


3. Lack of Boundaries

You accept new work without considering the things already in your hand. You don’t analyze how much time you can give to this new task. Either you want to stay in the good books of people or you have an urge to prove yourself. You can’t say ‘no’. By doing this you overexert yourself. You are always available to your colleagues and clients. You reply to emails and messages after work time and even at late night. 


4. Unable to Disconnect

During your non-working hours (whether it is urgent or not) you constantly check your phone and mail. You feel that you should be available every time to respond to emails and messages, as soon as they arrive. 


5. Unable to Acknowledge Your Achievements

With this mindset, you move on quickly to the next task after accomplishing one. You don’t even take a few moments to analyze and appreciate the things you have done. No, I am not asking you to develop a feeling of pride and stop working further. But it is necessary to reflect on your achievements and the efforts that you have put in to accomplish your tasks. 


6. Working Extra Hours Regularly

Sometimes it is required to give extra hours to a big project or to meet deadlines. But if you do it regularly, it becomes a toxic work habit. You always end up working on weekends and late nights. You sacrifice your sleep. You have no proper time to eat healthy food. All this leaves no to little time to take care of other aspects of your life that are also essential i.e., your physical and mental health.


7. Lack of Joy in the Work You Do

You become so focused on achieving goals and meeting deadlines that you forget the purpose of the task in the first place. It steals the passion you have for your goals and work. This can even lead to feelings of dissatisfaction.


8. Burnout

When you push yourself beyond a limit, it results in burnout. The effects of this can depend from person to person. Some may feel physical and mental exhaustion or others may feel frustrated. Some may feel guilty for not giving time to their loved ones and some might start facing health issues. 

How do You Break Toxic Productivity?

Toxic productivity, as a mindset, has become increasingly prevalent in the modern world. It is supported by the belief that you must be constantly working, achieving, and producing the result to be successful in the current scenario.

While productivity is important toxic mindset can be detrimental to your physical and emotional well-being. Let’s discuss how you can overcome this harmful mindset: 


1. Identify and Acknowledge the Issue

You need to acknowledge that this mindset is stealing your health and energy. This way of working is not sustainable in the long term. Thus, you must analyze your habits, behavior, and thought patterns and then identify the area where you need to work. You must understand that not only money but living a healthy and loving life is equally important.


2. Set Realistic Goals

Ensure that the goals you set are realistic and achievable. Being unrealistic and over-optimistic with your goals can lead to feelings of falling behind, which can cause toxic productivity in your work process. So set SMART goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. Focus on working harder. Take necessary breaks in between to keep your energy going and keep yourself refreshed. Break down your larger goals into smaller goals and tasks. 


3. Celebrate Your Small Wins

Celebrate your accomplishments along the way, no matter how small they are. Acknowledge them. Recognize every milestone and give yourself enough credit for it. Even reward yourself with simple pleasures like taking yourself out for dinner.


4. Self- Care

In this fast-paced life, you can often forget yourself. But, what will you do with all that success, if you are not in the right frame of mind and health to enjoy it? You won’t be able to enjoy it fully. Thus, you need to understand that with success, taking care of your physical and mental health is also important. If you are not in good health, how will you work efficiently on your goals or at your workplace? 

Here are a few suggestions that you can add to your routine to take better care of yourself:

  • Exercise in any form
  • Take your pet on a walk 
  • Cook the dish you relish


5. Set Boundaries

In the current world, it is hard to set boundaries between your work and personal life. With laptops in our hands, we are carrying our work at every place we go.

Thus, you need to communicate your timings to your colleagues and clients. Let them know about your availability so that it doesn’t interfere with your non-work hours. Set strict work hours and stick to them. 

Do the same if you have decided to exercise for 45 minutes a day, stick to that. For living a fulfilling life, aim to ensure a better life balance.


6. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness means being present at the moment and staying completely focused on whatever you are doing.

For example, If you are eating your meal, you are fully engaged in it, and relishing your meal. It means you are not scrolling your phone, taking calls in between, or looking at the screen. You are completely immersed and enjoying your meal. To inculcate this habit in everything you do, you can practice guided meditation, listen to mindful podcasts, or you can do pranayam.


7. Delegate the Work

Understand that you don’t need to do everything by yourself whether at work or home. Otherwise, you will always be overworked. Assign tasks to others as and when required. Ask for help and support when needed. If you don’t do this, you will always overstretch and overstress yourself.


8. Build a Sustainable Schedule

Build a schedule that you can stick to for a long time considering your work commitments, family time, and rest time.

To build a sustainable schedule you can do the following things:

  • Decide your hours or day off from work. During this time avoid checking emails and messages.
  • Prioritize one task at a time instead of multitasking.
  • Know yourself, understand your sleep chronotype, and learn at what time of the day you have the most energy. Do the tasks that need more focus and energy that time.
  • Take a few minutes of break in between.

toxic productivity

9. Do Nothing

Give yourself a few minutes in a day to let your mind wander. White sitting on your desk close your eyes for 5 minutes. As per studies, allowing your mind to wander increases your creativity. It helps in problem-solving. You can also take deep breaths for 10 minutes in between your work.


10. Let Go of Perfectionism

You have to let go of the feeling of attaining perfection in everything you do. Understand that mistakes are a natural part of life. Accept this and learn from them. Embrace imperfection and focus on your progress. 


11. Deal With Yourself

Being productive is a coping mechanism to keep your unwanted thoughts and feelings away. You have to learn to deal with it. You need to identify the buried thought or feeling that’s causing you to work so much. Try to sit with your feelings and emotions. See if these feelings can go away. If not, take the help of a counselor or talk to someone you trust. 


12. Pursue a Hobby

Doing things that give you enjoyment and fulfillment is necessary in life. So set aside time for this and disconnect yourself from your work and obligations. Make time for your hobbies. You can pursue any of these things:  

  • Painting
  • Gardening
  • Baking
  • Playing an instrument, or 
  • Try your hand at any sport you like



I hope this blog has helped you cope with your toxic productivity mindset. If all the information here feels too much. Then, just take it one day at a time.

Toxic productivity can have a detrimental impact on your mental and physical well-being. By recognizing the signs and taking practical steps to break free from the toxic cycle, you can reclaim your balance and create a healthier approach to productivity. 

Remember, productivity should enhance your life, not consume it. Hence, embrace a balanced and sustainable approach to your work and life. Even when both are interconnected, one should not overpower the other all the time. Instead of focusing only on the destination, find fulfillment in the journey.

Keep in mind that true productivity is about finding joy and contentment in your work while also taking care of yourself. Success is not measured only by how much you achieve, but also by how well you take care of yourself.