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Buzz Words Explained: Productivity Guilt

What is productivity guilt?

There is so much pressure nowadays to be constantly productive; unrealistic expectations are building up, especially in the presence of the internet. People online always portray themselves as productive at all hours of the day and stress how their days are busy and how they’re always working, which is very far from the truth. However, people (you and me) consuming all this media every day are bound to start feeling bad about themselves and their productivity habits. Aside from the internet, ‘productivity’ is also a cultural trait that has been engraved into our minds more and more as life progresses.

More often than not, due to all this stress, productivity guilt starts to form within people, and it is inevitable when we live in a world where hustle culture is promoted and admired. Productivity guilt has many forms; it can be the feeling that you’re not doing enough, that you’re doing too much, or that you’re simply just wasting time and always falling behind. Productivity guilt is usually felt most when you have many pending tasks or just a lot of work to do in your personal or professional life. While being productive is always nice and beneficial, there is a huge difference between that and beating yourself up about every detail and over-complicating your life.

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Even though the pursuit of productivity is often healthy and beneficial, when it reaches a certain level, it can really get to you and be very damaging to your mental health as it really consumes you.

The Impact of Productivity Guilt on Mental Health

Any feeling that results in obsessing over a certain topic or emotion is usually not good for your mental health. Productivity guilt usually has you obsessing over the validation you get by overworking yourself, which is definitely not healthy. This obsession more often than not leads to increased levels of anxiety, fatigue, and irritation, which can eventually lead to a counterclockwise outcome of decreased motivation and eventual burnout. Therefore, you have to find healthy ways to manage your productivity levels and tackle your productivity guilt.

stressed woman

Overcoming Productivity Guilt: Strategies and Tips

  • Acknowledge your feelings - The first step to tackling any emotional issue you are having is acknowledging that you are feeling this way and then getting to the root of the problem and realizing where your feelings are stemming from.

  • Dive deeper - Ask yourself if you’re feeling this way because of unresolved trauma. Maybe your parents expected too much when you were younger, so now you feel the need to be an overachiever at all times.

  • Recognize that productivity comes and goes - Productivity guilt will not make you any more productive; it will only add to your stress and maybe even slow you down. So you have to realize that some days you will be very productive, but it is also okay for you to have days when you are not productive at all and not blame yourself for that or let it bring any negative emotions of feeling like a failure. Always remember the impermanence of life situations.

  • Stop comparing yourself to others - In general, comparing yourself to others gets you nowhere in life. It will only keep you in a negative headspace. Only compare yourself to the old you and acknowledge your progress. Push yourself as hard as you can, but do not drain yourself.

  • Be kinder to yourself - Instead of making yourself feel like you’re good for nothing, maybe you should decompress a bit and have a self-care day because making yourself feel bad will not make you more productive. So this comes back to understanding how to navigate yourself and your emotions for a healthier life.

Challenge yourself to find a routine that works best for you. Whether that's utilizing a to-do list or incorporating scheduled breaks. The most important thing is to protect your mental health in order to be the most productive version of yourself.

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