I recently shared an episode of the Soul & Wit Podcast about productivity culture and the harmful notion that we always must be doing more. While a relatively new phrase, productivity culture isn’t a new concept.
I left the corporate world in 2011 and have never looked back. I don’t miss the ladder climbing, more is better, never enough, competitive world of productivity culture.
This isn’t just happening at the workplace either. It’s worked it’s way into our homes, to-do lists and family calendars.
Productivity culture says silly things like …
- The more you do the better you are.
- Work longer and harder to be recognized as successful.
- You can sleep when you die.
- Optimize your calendar, work and life so you can get even more done.
- You can relax once you’ve earned it.
I believed every word of it. For a really long time. And then I got sick. Part of my healing process was recognizing that I didn’t want to push and hustle anymore.
Unfortunately, burnout and illness is the common response to productivity and hustle culture. Here’s why … when you are measuring (and measured) by how much you get done, it’s never enough. You lose yourself to doing more because you forget how you feel, who you are and what you want.
If you’d prefer a different response, here’s what I recommend.
3 simple ways to reject productivity culture
1. Prioritize rest.
We’ve done a big disservice by portraying rest and relaxation as something you get if you work hard, can do if you get everything done by the end of the day or something you deserve if you are completely run down and burnt out. Instead of working harder, challenge yourself to rest better. If you don’t know how to rest, read this. If you want to relax, read this.
2. Redefine enough. Say no to the rest.
Productivity tips and tricks make us believe that we can squeeze more in but why should we? Instead, let’s redefine what enough means. I prefer to give my best instead of my most and that means giving less of myself overall.
3. Dismiss your guilt. That’s not what it is.
I remember the first Monday morning that I didn’t have to go into the office for another torturous sales meeting. Instead, I took a walk around the lake. I felt guilty at first. Shouldn’t I be working hard? Every day on my morning walk, I considered my guilt and finally realized that wasn’t what it was. It was discomfort. I was taking really good care of myself and I wasn’t used to doing that. It took some time, but I did stop feeling guilty and started feeling healthy, rested and free instead.
If you feel guilty for working less, slowing down and considering something new for yourself, consider that you may just feel uncomfortable getting what you know you need to thrive in your life.
Productivity culture will call you to do more. It will make you believe that if you could do a little more, finish one more thing and just ignore what you know about yourself for a little longer, you’ll be happy, successful, rich, and (insert other lies here).
You know better. You know the truth. Doing more things doesn’t make you a better person. It makes you a tired person. It’s time to rest, recover, renew and come back to you.
Tune in here for more on rejecting productivity culture and saying no thank you to doing more than enough.
P.S. I recognize that we don’t all have the same 24 hours (or staff or dollars) as Beyoncé, even though productivity culture says we do. Some phases of life require more of us and if you are in one of those phases, look for little ways to pull back and protect your well-being.