Toxic Productivity

Toxic Productivity

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in the cycle of toxic productivity. We can often push ourselves too hard in an effort to get more done, at the expense of our health and wellbeing. However, there is a better way.

What is Toxic Productivity?

Toxic productivity refers to the mindset where people feel like they must constantly be working and pushing themselves harder and harder. It often involves:

  • Working long hours without taking breaks
  • Feeling guilty when not being productive
  • Ignoring health, relationships, and leisure to work more

The Pitfalls of Toxic Productivity

While trying to get a lot accomplished isn’t necessarily bad, toxic productivity can have many downsides when taken too far, such as:

1. Burnout

Working constantly without giving our minds and bodies adequate rest can lead to exhaustion, cynicism about our work, and feeling like we have nothing left to give.

2. Diminished Health

Not taking breaks affects our mental health and physical health. Long term, toxic productivity habits may contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and more.

3. Isolation and Loneliness

If we devote all our energy to work, it becomes difficult to nurture relationships and social connections that provide meaning and support.

Finding Balance and Moderation

The key antidote to toxic productivity is balance and self-care. Here are some tips:

1. Take Regular Breaks

Make sure to get up and move throughout the day, take lunch breaks, and disconnect at a reasonable hour.

2. Set Healthy Boundaries and Limits

Be clear with yourself and others about workload capacity. Learn when to say no to additional tasks when you already have enough.

3. Cultivate Community and Relationships

Spend time nourishing the people connections that matter most, instead of endless work.

4. Practice Mindfulness and Gratitude

Take moments to be fully present instead of always thinking about the next task. Appreciate what you have accomplished.


1. How do I know if I have toxic productivity habits?

You may exhibit toxic productivity habits if you experience frequent burnout, lack work-life balance, feel guilty about not working, or regularly neglect your health and relationships.

2. What is the difference between productivity and toxic productivity?

Productivity means working efficiently to accomplish meaningful goals. Toxic productivity means pushing excessively hard without moderation, sacrifice of health and wellbeing, and valuing quantity over meaning and purpose.

3. How can I be productive without toxicity?

Set reasonable goals that align with your values, take breaks, foster life outside of work, say no when needed, and practice mindfulness to notice when you’re over-working yourself.

4. What are some healthy productivity habits?

Healthy productivity habits include setting goals in line with personal priorities, using schedule blocks effectively, minimizing distractions, practicing mindfulness to stay focused on meaningful tasks, and making time for rest and self-care.

5. How can I support a colleague who exhibits toxic productivity tendencies?

Lead by example in demonstrating healthy limits around working hours and breaks. Check in on them personally and encourage them to take time off. Suggest fun non-work activities to build your friendship and provide relief from constant drive to produce.