The definition of productivity is the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input. The definition of toxic productivity is an unhealthy and extreme obsession with productivity, with no amount of work ever being enough to ease the sense of guilt. Productivity is required for businesses to thrive and yet focusing on productivity to the point that no amount of work or contribution is ever enough, creates a stressful work environment that is detrimental to the company and its staff.
Statistics in 2020 showed that 81% of women felt the effects of burnout. Some estimate burnout costs employers over $100 billion each year. Another article provides evidence that if American women earned a wage for their unpaid work, it would equate to $10,900,000,000,000. A pre-pandemic Harris Poll surveyed 48% of women who said their burnout is so extreme it keeps them awake at night. That same poll showed women in the “Sandwich Generation” or those who care for children and aging parents, the number climbs to 73%.
So, the idea that productivity increases when people are forced to work longer hours are overwhelmed, and under pressure, is actually untrue. On the contrary, incorporating well-being into the design of work can strengthen the link between worker well-being and organizational performance. When organizations do so, employees not only feel their best but perform at their best, leading to a greater sense of belonging overall and help elevate the company’s growth by contributing to greater profits.
To empower people to create more, the cycle of toxic productivity needs to be remedied. These are my top five tips for ending the cycle of burnout.
1. Let Go of Proving
Ask yourself this question, “Am I stuck in a cycle of trying to prove my worth?” When you are trying to prove that you are good enough, or productive enough, you get overwhelmed by the busyness of everything, you become exhausted, and that’s when you get burnt out.
If you find that you are stuck in the pattern of trying to prove your worth, it is likely because you are not seeing the greatness and the gift of you. Ask, “What’s right about me that I am not getting?” When you start to see the greatness of you, the need to prove fades away.
2. Is This Mine?
If you start to think that you are burnt out and exhausted, don’t assume that these thoughts are true. Are you really burnt out, or is that being projected onto you by your friends, family, and coworkers? If you’re a sensitive person, you may be picking up on everyone else’s exhaustion so rather than concluding you are on your way to burnout, ask, “Is this feeling of exhaustion mine?” If you feel lighter when you ask, you are simply aware of others. Let those thoughts go and enjoy all the things you are doing and creating.
3. What Matters to You?
Making you a priority in your life goes a long way in eliminating stress and it is difficult to make you a priority when you are not clear on what things are important to you. Have you ever asked, “What matters to me?” Or do you find yourself consumed with doing your best to fulfill the expectations and desires of others? What if in this new year of 2021, you asked this question every day and discovered what in your reality you would have to change so that your life works for you. This is your life. Are you living it?
4. Start Your Day with YOU
When we have a lot of to-dos on our to-do list, it is easy to wake up every morning and jump straight to the action. Would you be willing to try something different? When you wake up, rather than checking your apps, email, slack, messages, and all the things, pause, take a deep breath, connect to the earth and ask, “Who or what requires me today?” When you ask this question, rather than assuming you already know what you need to do, things and people will come into your awareness and when you follow that awareness you can tap into TRUE productivity and make things happen.
5. Change Your Point of View
If you truly desire to stop functioning from toxic productivity, you have to first get rid of the mentality that stress = creating more. If you’re working on the things that really matter, and you’ve tapped into creating what is required (and not trying to prove your worth), you can achieve a sense of ease and alignment that allows you to create more.
If you are having a difficult time changing your point of view, every time you notice the point of view that stress and overwhelm are required for productivity, say to yourself, “Interesting point of view. I have that point of view.” Repeating this phrase allows your points of view to be simply interesting rather than real and true, which allows you to let them go.
What if 2021 could be your best year yet? The year you stop proving your worth…and the year you KNOW it instead. Make a conscious effort to not take on other people’s stuff. Being around others that are exhausted and afraid of burnout does not mean that should or has to be your reality. Discover yourself. What is true for you? What matters to you? What would you like to see more of in the world? Wake up every day and choose those things. Take a moment before the daily actions begin to ask, “Who or what requires me?” and follow it. Choose these things and create greater, faster, and more of the life you desire with joy, play, and total ease.