toxic productivity

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It is 8 AM on Saturday, and you already feel anxious because you have a lengthy list of tasks you want to complete. Your team told you to take some time off, but you can’t seem to slow down. Your mind is always racing, so you can’t relax.

This is what it’s like when toxic productivity takes over your life. Your mindset makes you believe that your worth is determined by how much you accomplish. If you are not constantly working, you feel useless.  Suffering from toxic productivity can lead to depression, anxiety, and burnout.

Tracking how much time you spend on tasks and projects is a great way to reduce toxic productivity as you can ensure you’re not wasting time on unimportant work. It helps you reach your goals faster and with less stress.  You can use your downtime to rest and recharge to become even more productive when you return to work.

Automatic time tracking tools, such as Timing for macOS users, help you track how much time you spend on various tasks to see which ones are taking up most of your time.  

Timing helps you focus on what’s important instead of wasting time on non-essential tasks. It shows you a detailed breakdown of where your time goes throughout the day to identify any blind spots in your workflow, so you can adjust accordingly. 

When you keep track of your time, you’ll be able to identify patterns in your work day and understand how to improve your productivity and efficiency.  

Timing also helps you gain a sense of control over your work life and provides you time tracking data you can use for both personal and professional development. To see how it works, download Timing today and start your 30-day free trial.

Toxic productivity and being productive are two completely different things. In today’s article, we will provide the information you need to recognize and overcome this challenge. We will also explain how Timing helps you reduce the need for constant productivity. Let’s start with some basics.

What is toxic productivity?

toxic productivity at work

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Toxic productivity occurs when you become so focused on being productive that you start neglecting your well-being. It is the dark side of professionalism that leads to the following:

  1. Obsession with work
  2. A lack of relaxation
  3. Losing motivation
  4. Being tired all the time
  5. Making mistakes

If you feel your job is more important than your family or personal life, the probable cause is toxic productivity. It’s crucial to find the right balance between work and personal life.

What causes toxic productivity?

Many freelancers fall into the toxic productivity trap because they fear losing their clients or not having enough work to keep them afloat. They start working long hours and neglecting their personal lives. While this may help them meet deadlines in the short term, it’s not sustainable in the long term.

An unhealthy work ethic also occurs due to unrealistic expectations and poor project planning. In other cases, it may be simply a need to work harder to achieve social recognition.

Whatever the reason, toxic productivity can severely affect your mental health.

How toxic productivity affects your mental health

Toxic productivity is not just an occupational phenomenon but a real-life occurrence that influences your mental health in many ways. Some of its most significant effects include the following:

  • It reduces your ability to concentrate on work
  • You begin feeling overwhelmed and stressed out
  • It makes you feel anxious and depressed
  • This type of productivity leads to burnout
  • You eventually become incapable of delivering as expected

All these problems show you’re not productive in a healthy way. You must start tracking time and readjusting your daily habits to stay productive without jeopardizing your mental health.

How toxic productivity affects your work/life balance

Toxic productivity decreases your work/life balance in more than one way:

  1. No free time: Freelancers caught in the cycle of toxic productivity rarely have free time. They’re either working around the clock or too tired to enjoy their free time.
  2. Poor social relationships: Toxic productivity can also affect your relationships. You won’t have time for friends and family. You’re not in the mood for socializing anymore. All you can think about is work.
  3. Neglecting your hobbies: When you’re a victim of toxic productivity, you might even have to give up your hobbies.

Such effects of excess productivity are not only severe but also more common than you might expect. On average, employees take 26% of their work back home to complete, consuming their private time. 

How toxic productivity affects your team

Extreme productivity levels don’t just affect individuals but also entire teams. It can lead to many problems:

  1. Unhealthy competitiveness: It results from team members constantly trying to one-up each other. That can be detrimental to team morale and might cause team members to feel negative about each other.
  2. Stagnation: Your team members can be so focused on staying productive that they don’t take the time to learn new things. It can become more challenging to deliver high-quality work.
  3. Decreased performance: When team members are exhausted, it’s only a matter of time before they start missing deadlines. As a result, they begin feeling even more pressure and stress, which can further impact project deliverables.

The good thing is that Timing helps you overcome toxic productivity. Our automatic time tracking tool provides detailed reports to help you improve control of your projects, manage resources, understand team capacity, track budgets to ensure profitability, and streamline workflows. 

Download Timing and start a 30-day free trial to see how it works.

Toxic productivity and societal pressures

toxic productivity and societal preassures

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Toxic productivity doesn’t solely come as a personal choice. On the contrary, it is often the consequence of the ever-increasing societal pressures and productivity-centered culture we live in.

We cannot work like machines and never get tired, but sometimes it seems like that’s what we’re expected to do. We have lost touch with our natural rhythm. It harms our individual mental and physical health and the health of our society as a whole.

We are constantly told to do more, be more, and achieve more. It’s easy to become a victim of the hustle culture and buy into the idea that we need to work 24/7 to be successful. We often push ourselves to the brink of exhaustion to meet unrealistic standards. 

But this lifestyle is not sustainable. And it’s not productive either. We need to learn to disconnect to recharge.

7 signs you have fallen into the toxic productivity trap

toxic productivity trap

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There are many signs of toxic productivity, but some are far more frequent than others. Here are seven signals that you need to pay attention to.

1. You feel awkward doing nothing

It feels good to cross things off your to-do list and see results from your efforts. But what happens when being productive becomes an obsession?

If you feel restless or uneasy when you’re not working, it’s a sign that you developed self-imposed expectations and need to take a step back and reassess your priorities to avoid burnout.

2. You don’t take breaks or vacations

You’re always on the go, never stopping for a break. You think taking a vacation would be a waste of time and can’t afford to pause your hectic schedule. 

You might think you can power through and keep going, but that’s not how the human body works. We all need time to rest and recover; if you don’t take that time, you’ll eventually reach a breaking point.

3. No life outside work

If your work starts consuming all your time and energy, it’s a sign that you’re in the throes of excess productivity. It’s easy to spot it—you don’t meet with your family or friends as often as you used to. You don’t have any hobbies outside of work, and your social life is practically nonexistent. 

Living like this is unhealthy because you’re not nurturing a balanced life. All work and no play can make you feel miserable in the long run. Make time for yourself and your loved ones, and pursue hobbies you’re passionate about. It’s okay to work hard, but don’t forget to live a little.

4. Feeling productivity shame

A productivity shame mindset makes you feel like you’re constantly behind. You think that everyone else can get more done faster than you. It destroys your perception of self-worth and can cause a lot of stress.

If you feel this way, it’s important to remember that everyone has their unique circumstances. Some people may be able to work faster or have more free time, but that doesn’t mean they’re better than you.

Try to focus on your progress and accomplishments. It will help you feel good about yourself and boost your confidence. Remember, there’s no shame in being productive at your own pace.

5. You don’t sleep well

If you want to be more productive, getting enough sleep is essential. Seven hours is the minimum amount of sleep you need to perform well during the day. If you sleep less or don’t sleep at all, it’s a sign that you need to make some changes.

Getting enough sleep is essential for productivity, so don’t ignore the issue. When well-rested, you can think more clearly and make better decisions. You will also have more energy to get through your workday.

6. Failing to prioritize tasks

If you think all tasks are equally important and want to complete them simultaneously, then you’re not very good at prioritizing tasks. By prioritizing your tasks, you’ll be able to get more done in less time and feel less stressed out. Focus on the most critical tasks with the most significant impact and track your progress.

7. You are never satisfied with your work

It is a familiar feeling for many high-achievers to feel like it is never enough, no matter how much they accomplish. When you chase after the next thing and never take the time to enjoy your accomplishments, it affects your mental and emotional health. 

Toxic productivity comes at the expense of your well-being. It is fuelled by anxiety, perfectionism, and comparison. If you constantly compare yourself to others, it is time to focus on your journey and celebrate your successes.

Now that we have shared the most significant symptoms you should pay attention to, let’s discuss how you can overcome these challenges.

When to ask for help from a mental health professional

If you recognize any of these symptoms and can’t solve the challenge yourself, you should start working with a professional to guide you through the recovery process. 

This person will know how to help you develop a more balanced relationship with work. That way, you will gradually increase your level of self-care and reduce the influence toxic productivity has on your life.

If you think you can solve this issue yourself, we recommend you start using Timing, our automatic time tracking tool that helps you assess the time you spend working and reduce any bad working habits that affect your well-being. 

Download Timing and start a 30-day free trial to evaluate features while we explain each in the following section.

How Timing helps you break free from toxic productivity

Time tracking is an effective way to increase healthy productivity. By recording your time on different tasks, you can see where your time goes during workdays and make changes to improve efficiency. You can also use time tracking to set goals for yourself and measure your progress. It all leads to a healthier work/life balance. 

Let’s discuss how Timing helps you along the way.

1. Track your time automatically

timing automatic time tracking

Timing is an automatic time tracking tool for macOS users that runs in the background and automatically starts and stops timers based on your activity, so you don’t have to remember to do it yourself. Just set it and forget it.

You can see time entries for each task, project, and distraction. It helps you assess your workday, become more efficient, and get things done faster. It gives you control over your professional life to improve your work/life balance.

2. Add manual time entries when needed

timing manual time tracker

Timing provides automatic time tracking to ensure you don’t forget to record your work hours. On the other hand, it also offers manual time tracking as an optional feature to use according to your needs at a given moment, such as fieldwork and offline meetings. 

You can use our web app for Android and iOS devices to record time while on the go or add time entries manually in the Mac app after specific activities such as video or audio calls. 

Combining automatic and manual time tracking gives you a precise picture of how you spend your workdays and helps you avoid omitting working hours, resulting in increased accuracy and reliability of your timesheets and improved billing and invoicing. 

3. Delegate tasks to team members and track their performance

timing for team members

If you are a manager, our web app for Android and iOS devices helps you evaluate the time spent on your projects while on the go and assess your team members’ performance and productivity. 

Timing helps you get all the necessary project details while respecting your team’s privacy. You can only see the total time spent on shared projects without further information on their private projects or tasks.

timing team reports

The insights from the reports help you track budgets and profitability, adjust project schedules, prioritize assignments and reduce team’s time on unproductive tasks. You can optimize their workload to free the time they can spend with their family, make time for hobbies and maintain a healthy lifestyle. It all leads to a healthier work environment.

To learn more, you can read our article on the importance of time recording for team efficiency.

4. Identify areas of overworking

timing report

You probably think you can get more done in a day than you actually can. Timing lets you see where you are spending your time and how much time you spend on specific tasks. It can also help you identify over-working areas to combat toxic productivity and take steps to improve efficiency, decrease stress and free up more time for yourself.

It also helps you understand if your work activities are aligned with the project budget and how overworking affects your income. If you spend more time than planned, it’s time to increase the cost of your services. Luckily, with Timing, you will have an accurate time record you can show to your clients, gain their trust and improve your reputation.

5. Examine your to-do list with a critical eye

timing detailed time reports for mac users

If you work as a freelancer, there are a million things you always need to do. It can be challenging to stay on top of everything and to know what tasks are the most important. This is where Timing comes in.

Timing provides detailed reports to assess which tasks take most of your time. You can then evaluate your to-do list, start with these tasks first and later proceed with easier tasks you can finish quickly. It helps you stay focused, work smarter, not harder, and complete all assignments during your workday.

6. Define breaks and do something for yourself

It is important to schedule breaks for yourself throughout the day. Timing provides a time overview so you can organize your work day, define the time to rest, and start doing something for yourself.

It doesn’t matter what you plan to doーwalk, sleep, jog, or something else. The most important thing is to do something that makes you feel good about yourself to find a balance between work and leisure. 

7. Set goals and stick to them

Setting long-term goals that you can review daily, weekly or monthly is essential. It helps you remain productive without feeling work-related guilt or working longer hours. You can use the time tracking records that Timing provides you during these reviews to reflect on your progress and make any necessary adjustments.

8. Keep a daily productivity tracker

Timing comes with a built-in automatic productivity tracker. It’s an excellent option if you’re looking for an easy way to boost your productivity. This simple tool allows you to assign productivity scores to each project and track your progress over time. The higher the score, the more productive you were on the specific project.

9. Recognize and limit distractions to keep yourself focused

timing workday overview

Timing tracks your activity and provides detailed statistics on where you spend your time. It helps you recognize distractions that decrease productivity and create customized categories for these activities. It can be eye-opening to see how much time you waste on things that don’t matter. 

With Timing, you can create a distraction-free environment, focus on deep work, get more done and produce the best results possible. So if you’re trying to boost your healthy productivity, Timing is an excellent tool to include in your arsenal.

10. Provide detailed reports to your clients 

timing reports for clients

If you’re a freelancer, you know how important it is to keep accurate work records. After all, your clients rely on you to provide precise information about your time working on their projects. But keeping track of your work can be a challenge, especially if you’re working with multiple clients. 

Timing helps you create and export time reports in Excel, CSV, and PDF file types. You can use these reports and send them to your clients along with your invoices. Timing gives you complete control over the level of detail. You can see daily, weekly or monthly data in top-level overviews or get all details down to the second. 

With this precision, you will impress clients with in-depth reviews of your work and professionalism. That way, no one will be able to dispute your timesheets or invoices. 

Toxic productivity: Final Words

Productivity is critical in today’s fast-paced world. We are always looking for ways to do more in less time. But sometimes, being too productive can have its downsides. 

If you work long hours and constantly feel stressed, you may be in danger of burnout, anxiety, and other health problems. Taking steps to manage time and stress levels is essential.

With Timing, you can see how you spend your time and make valuable changes to create a more sustainable, beneficial, and productive lifestyle. So what are you waiting for? 

Download Timing and start a 30-day free trial to get that toxic productivity out of your life.