Toxic Productivity

What is Toxic Productivity – Top Signs & Psychology.

Updated on November 2nd, 2023

Ever wondered if your quest for productivity might be doing you more harm than good?

Let’s spill the tea on how this hustle culture has got us feeling like burnt toast. From feeling constantly on edge to chasing that never-ending to-do list, we’ve all been there, done that, and got the stress-induced t-shirt. But hold up, it’s time to reclaim our chill and slay the day without sacrificing our sanity. So, get ready to work smarter, not harder. Read along to explore more regarding “TOXIC PRODUCTIVITY”, often masked as the relentless pursuit of success..

What is Toxic Productivity?

Toxic productivity can be described as the uncontrollable need to feel productive at all times, at all costs, and it can become harmful to your mental and physical health, as defined by Forbes. Such productivity has a pattern of exhausting the individuals eventually. People who practice toxic productivity are observed later to go down in their capacity to be productive due to having to deal with negative feelings on a daily basis .

What Causes Toxic Productivity?

Toxic productivity happens when a person has an unhealthy obsession with being productive and continuously on the go. Here are three top causes of toxic productivity:

  • Prioritize Well-being
  • Foster a Supportive Environment
  • Focus on Quality over Quantity

Lack of Effective Time Management Tools

Not utilizing an efficient time tracking software or other management tools can result in poor work-life balance. Know why? Because this will make individuals struggle to prioritize tasks effectively.

Perfectionism Pressure

The constant need to produce flawless work often leads to overworking and neglecting self-care. As such, this contributes to a toxic environment that prioritizes output over personal health.

Unrealistic Expectations

Setting unattainable goals and expecting continuous peak performance can lead to a never-ending cycle of stress and burnout. This hampers overall well-being.

Tips To Tackle Toxic Productivity

Toxic productivity is no good. It’s like trying to put out a fire with gasoline – it’s only going to make matters worse!

Having said that, it is important to prioritise balance and well-being in both personal and professional life to avoid toxic productivity. Here are six tips to tackle toxic productivity in the workplace:

  • Prioritize Well-being
  • Foster a Supportive Environment
  • Focus on Quality over Quantity
  • Discourage Moonlighting
  • Implement the 1-3-5 Productivity Rule
  • Encourage Breaks and Rest

Prioritize Well-being

Encourage employees to prioritize their mental and physical well-being and provide resources for stress management and wellness initiatives. This ultimately enhances employee performance and retention.

Foster a Supportive Environment

Cultivate an environment where employees feel comfortable expressing concerns about their workload and productivity. This will foster open communication thereby boosting the next generation of employee productivity.

Focus on Quality over Quantity

Shift the focus from the quantity of work produced to the quality of work. This emphasises the importance of delivering high-quality results over an excessive volume of output.

Discourage Moonlighting

Establish clear policies that discourage employee moonlighting or side gigs during work hours to ensure employees are fully present and focused on their primary responsibilities. This maintains high-quality output and prevents burnout.

Implement Productivity Rule

Encourage employees to adopt 1-3-5 productivity rule that prioritize tasks by focusing on one major task, three medium tasks, and five smaller tasks each day. This also allows them to maintain a balanced workload.

Encourage Breaks and Rest

Advocate for regular breaks throughout the workday and encourage employees to utilize their paid time off to rest and rejuvenate. Thus, it can promote a positive work environment valuing rest for better performance and employee health.

Top Signs of Toxic Productivity

Most of the time, one may not realize one’s productivity is toxic. Toxic productivity can have dangerous consequences for relationships outside work as well as on the physical and mental health of individuals. Here is a list of factors that shows signs of toxic productivity in you:

  • Abnormal Fatigue
  • Toxic Productivity
  • No Work-Life Balance
  • Unrealistic Expectations
  • Overworking
  • Meaningful Work Only

Now, let us look at each sign of toxic productivity in detail;

You are constantly guilty about productivity even after working hard

Guilty about productivity even after working hard

Self loathing even after working hard is toxic!

Having a clear understanding of one’s strengths and capabilities is important for being productive. This can help you to decide what tasks are manageable for you in a day.

Therefore, You shouldn’t push yourself beyond your limits. Your limits need to be broadened in a healthy way by adding up to your routine small manageable tasks.



Self-love is important and it is significant that you nurture more of it in a healthy way. The right way of practicing self-love is by incorporating productivity and self-discipline in small doses of manageable tasks.

self love in productivity

You feel abnormally tired and drained out of energy

Exhausting yourself to extreme limits at work can be toxic to your life outside work. It can make you left with no energy to have a life outside work. Which can make you feel depressed about life.

Toxic Productivity has serious health implications such as the risk of depression, poor sleep, risk of heart disease, and more.
Toxic productivity makes you tired

Success always feels meaningless in toxic productivity

Success feels meaningless

Another important sign of unhealthy productivity is that your success always feels meaningless to you.

It is important that we celebrate our small wins and appreciate ourselves.
In fact, Acknowledging and celebrating the little wins will motivate you to live life better and lift your self-esteem

Not taking breaks

It is part of toxic productivity to work without taking any breaks. But it is a dumb thing to do that reaps no fruit.

Research tells us that taking breaks can improve attention and reduce stress at work.
Therefore it is important that you take breaks between work which can increase the quality or levels of output.

involves working without break

You have no life outside work

No life outside work


Doing good at work alone can’t make you happy. But this is something most people end up doing in the false sense of being productive. It is important that you find time in your life for socializing, family, hobbies, and games.

Your expectations are unrealistic



Having unrealistic expectations can make you feel left behind and worthless. Even when you are performing well, this can lower your self-confidence. Such negative feelings about self can disrupt your mental health and negatively impact your productivity in the long run.

Toxic productivity involves unrealistic expectations

Key Takeaways

  • Unrealistic expectations make you feel left behind & worthless
  • Your self-confidence goes down
  • Negative feelings of self-loathing will make you exhausted
  • Exhaustion will make you less productive
  • Working Overtime

    You might get rewarded well for working overtime and such appreciation could make you feel like you are doing good at work. But getting rewarded or appreciated for working overtime encourages you to be productive in a toxic way.

    Therefore do not fall into the trap of working overtime and pull out its toxicity into your life which robes you out of personal time, mental and physical health, and much more.

    Working overtime is toxic productivity

    Only wanting to do work that is meaningful

    Sometimes you need to spend time in meaningless ways as well!

    Only agreeing to do productive and meaningful tasks can exhaust you in the long run.
    Chilling out, playing games, watching a series, reading memes and every other thing you do to chill out are equally important to live a healthy and happy life. Therefore let go of your anxiety and do things that are meaningless at times, just to make your good hormones roll and feel better.


    Desklog Free Time Tracking Trial

    Working without a time tracker

    Working long hours without a sense of time can make you feel burned out but with no output. This is a very frustrating feeling to have that can bring a huge sense of disappointment that can lead to lower self-esteem. Therefore as individuals, it is important to parallelly run a time tracker and employers need to implement employee monitoring software to make employees have a sense of time and productivity when they work.

    Want to try our Time Tracking Software?
    Try Desklog for free!

    Conclusion

    Toxic productivity is a real thing, and it can creep up on you before you know it!
    If you’re feeling constantly overwhelmed, stressed out, and never satisfied with how much you work, take a step back and assess whether your current work habits are healthy or harmful.In summary, this article has aimed to give you some signs to look out for in the signs & psychology of toxic productivity

    Meet The Author
    Misbah Thevarmannil

    Content Writer at Desklog

    Misbah Thevarmannil's writing is both tech-savvy and grounded in creativity. She combines a play on words with an encyclopedic knowledge of technical subjects to produce pieces that is clear, concise, and accessible to her audience. Misbah has been at the forefront of technology for years, and she keeps up with software trends from writers, developers, and the like.

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