Toxic Productivity Culture (TPC): A cultural trend defined as an obsession, or addiction, to being productive; results in one’s self-worth being measured by levels of productivity.

For the past few weeks, I’ve made it known that one of my top 2021 goals is to take down toxic productivity culture. If you’re not familiar, this cultural trend pressures you to become obsessed with productivity, prompting you to place your self-worth into your productivity levels. After months of all work and no play, you’re left with a lifestyle that is equal parts exhausting and unsustainable.

My greatest hope when writing about toxic productivity culture is that those reading are lucky enough to have not experienced the pressures of feeling they must be perpetually productive. So, if you’ve read my latest pieces and find you don’t present any of the symptoms commonly seen in someone being impacted by TPC, I couldn’t be happier. 

However, that doesn’t mean you should stop reading.

Since many of my readers are entrepreneurs, innovators, and creatives (aka people with vibrant visions they’re determined to bring to life), the likelihood of you falling victim to TPC is exceedingly high. Don’t take that as an insult; if anything it’s a compliment. You care about your work more than most and are willing to put in anything to turn your dreams into a reality. That’s extremely admirable. However, if you’re not careful, your addiction to work productivity can start taking shape at a rapid rate.

That’s why I’m here to tell you a few ways to avoid toxic productivity culture before it crawls up and bites you. (You can thank me later). 

Practice Mindfulness Every Morning

Entrepreneur practicing morning meditation to overcome toxic productivity culture
Entrepreneur practicing morning meditation to overcome toxic productivity culture

You’ve probably heard the saying “self-awareness is key,” thrown around at least once in your life. Well, when trying to avoid toxic productivity, this little mantra is something you should stick to. If you can make a daily habit of checking in with your thoughts, emotions, and intentions, you’d be shocked by how your life is impacted.

When starting your morning by confronting internal struggles, establishing a positive mindset, and setting achievable goals (they can be as simple as calling a friend or drinking enough water), you’ll reach a state of peace that’ll discourage you from overworking yourself. You won’t feel the need for a distraction, validation, or something to give you a sense of purpose (AKA things that commonly lead to toxic productivity) because you’ll start the day feeling focused and fulfilled.

Now listen, I know you may be thinking this isn’t for you, but I urge you to give it a try. Find a podcast like The Morning Ritual on Spotify or a YouTube series like Goop’s Guided Meditations and take ten minutes out of your morning to start your day with mindfulness. The results won’t just help you avoid TPC, but will likely change your entire life.

Prioritize Intentionality in Relationships

Entrepreneur video chatting with friends
Entrepreneur video chatting with friends

One of the first things to happen when your productivity levels become your top priority is one of the most heartbreaking: the loss of relationships. Maybe your relationships will just fade as opposed to completely coming to an end, but this results in you having no one to turn to in times when you may need someone the most. To make sure this doesn’t happen, you have to prioritize being intentional with those in your life.

Whether that’s planning a fun virtual event with your friend group, setting up a weekly FaceTime schedule with your mom, or texting a friend about their day, if you try to find at least one way to be intentional in your relationships every day, you can guarantee you won’t accidentally push people away or distance yourself from those you love most. Though it may seem like a bit of effort, I promise keeping up with those you care about will never be something you regret.

Set a Social Media Time Limit

Entrepreneur scrolling through social media
Entrepreneur scrolling through social media

If you read my last article where I touched on how severely social media promotes toxic productivity culture, you know why this is on the list (if you haven’t, I recommend you check it out). When constantly comparing your life to others on social media, you can start feeling lazy, unaccomplished, or unsatisfied with life within a few seconds of scrolling. That on top of constantly seeing posts about the importance of productivity can leave you feeling overwhelmed with guilt for even lying down on the couch to look at your phone in the first place (which, FYI, resting on the couch and “being unproductive” are two very different things).

This is why you should limit your social media screen time to a minimum. If you now find yourself spending an hour on social media a day, try limiting that to thirty minutes. If you don’t even want to know how much time you spend on social media in 24 hours, try only going on for an hour a day and shortening your social media usage from there. Either way, separating yourself from social media is one of the best things you can do to avoid TPC (and you’ll probably find it benefits your life in plenty of other ways as well).

Do Something Nice for Yourself Every Day

Happy entrepreneur opening box from online order
Happy entrepreneur opening box from online order

Now listen, I’m not saying you need to be getting back massages or going on shopping sprees on the daily (I mean, unless you want to). What I’m saying is that one of the most common reasons we become addicted to being productive is because we feel worthless or purposeless if we’re not constantly trying to better ourselves. Oftentimes, the reason we begin this tireless trek for validation, purpose, or worth is because deep down, we aren’t happy with ourselves.

I know, realizing that can hurt (it did for me), but for many of us, it’s true. The easiest way we can fix that? Do little things to show self-love. You’d be surprised how much doing something nice for yourself can dramatically affect your self-worth. It can be something as simple as saying “I love you,” in the mirror, getting yourself a bouquet of flowers, or taking yourself out to dinner. 

Imagine if you did something like that every day to show how much you valued yourself? I have a pretty strong feeling you’d feel far less pressured to be productive all the time. Why? Because you’re giving yourself the validation you’re trying to obtain when working yourself to exhaustion.

Have any more tips for avoiding toxic productivity culture? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.