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While everyone is familiar with the phrases productivity and anxiety, have you ever heard the two concepts used together? I hadn’t, but when I did, everything came together and I realized I was suffering from it.
So, just what is productivity anxiety? It’s basically the sense that you’re never accomplishing enough. You never feel genuinely content with your achievements, no matter how many hours you work or how much you accomplish, since there is always more to do.
Productivity anxiety is often characterized by a sense of shame for engaging in ‘unproductive’ activities. Even on your day off, you’ll feel guilty for not tackling your never-ending to-do list rather than giving yourself the time and space to relax and heal.
While at the start always working seems to be the easiest way to go ahead of everyone else, it can actually throw you far further behind down the road. This continual desire to be ‘doing’ anything can easily lead to burnout, resentment of your job, or even mental health difficulties like anxiety in other aspects of your life. Never allowing yourself to relax or feeling terribly terrible when you do is a detrimental mindset.
For me, productivity anxiety began with a few innocuous to-do lists that became longer and longer over the course of a few months. They grew so overpowering that I was doing nothing but work and never fully enjoying what I was doing.
My hobbies were abandoned, and when I eventually took a step back to look at it, I discovered I couldn’t even be effective at my work longer since I wasn’t spending the time filling my own cup, leaving me weary.
We need to shift our thinking to see that spending time on hobbies, practicing self-care, or just taking time off to recover is necessary for working at peak performance. It’s the most long-term approach to keep crushing your objectives and striking a great work-life balance.
Now that you know what productivity anxiety is and how damaging it can be, here are the 9 clear symptoms that you have it and what to do about it.
You never allow yourself to genuinely rest.
If, like me, you seldom spend time doing activities you like or taking time to rest because you feel guilty about being idle, you may be suffering from productivity anxiety. Resting should never feel like a crime, and it is really necessary for maintaining peak production levels.
If you’ve realized this but are still locked in the loop of ‘doing,’ attempt to adjust your thinking and see the benefit in taking time off. Adding items like ‘have a bath’ or’spend an hour reading’ to my to-do lists helped me stop pushing these crucial leisure activities to the side.
Acting gives you a sense of control.
People believe they can influence the outcome of their jobs or lives by continually ‘doing’ things. If the epidemic taught us anything, it’s that even things we believe we have control over, such as our jobs, are not necessarily so. Start thinking about control in a new way if you thrive on feeling in control of your life.
What is the one thing we can totally control? It’s our turn. In contrast to our lives and jobs, time is stable and never unexpected. As we get older, we realize how essential our time is, so if you’re continuously on high alert, take a moment to reflect on how you’re spending your days. We must not only examine our time, but also take control of it, which can be a really liberating experience. Set time limitations for work or make time for self-care or relaxation.
It feels important to be respected.
If you feel the need to be always active in order to feel appreciated at work or in your life, you may be suffering from productivity anxiety. The world we live in nowadays values and even promotes activity. This poisonous concept simply emphasizes that your production is more valuable than your ideals and objectives. As a result, many individuals assume that the busy they are, the happier and more respected they will feel.
Instead of focusing about and embracing everything you ‘can’ do, think about and accept the things you want to accomplish because they correspond with your own values, ideals, and beliefs. This should be the most important value for each individual, and the more individuals who actively participate in it, the simpler it will be to change the world’s internalizations and busyness culture.
You have trouble sleeping.
This is a simple symptom to identify. If you’re having trouble sleeping because your mind is actively running over all the things you need to get done, or you’re feeling guilty because you didn’t get enough done today, productivity anxiety might be the cause. My sleep is always the first clue that I’m going back into the cycle of anxiety. While there are other causes of insomnia, if you discover that your thoughts are particularly specific to productivity shame, you will most likely need to make the modifications described above and below in order to get some quality slumber again.
You never feel like you’ve accomplished enough.
People suffering with productivity anxiety will never be pleased with what they do or complete since it will never feel like enough. They feel the need to be always active and are very critical of how quickly they can complete tasks. And this is usually because they never take the time to reflect on and enjoy their accomplishments!
Begin looking back on what you’ve accomplished on a weekly or monthly basis, and take the time to appreciate how fantastic it is and how it’s assisting you in reaching your larger objectives. And if you didn’t accomplish much, think about why and how you might improve moving forward.
Distractions allow you to disregard your emotions.
Have you ever considered why you may be suffering from poisonous busyness and productivity anxiety? Maybe you believe you need to keep working to be respected, maybe you don’t want to fall behind the herd, or maybe it helps to create diversions that allow you to ignore your feelings and emotions.
Many individuals avoid being alone with themselves because it might bring up sentiments they don’t want or aren’t ready to address. However, suppressing these feelings is not an effective strategy. Allow room for your emotions, lean into them, and employ mindfulness practices to help you notice them. While you will need to set aside time to work through these, it will be worthwhile.
You get the impression that everyone is always accomplishing more than you.
Those suffering from productivity anxiety will continually compare themselves to others, just as they will never be pleased with what you accomplish. Whatever they accomplish will be little in compared to what someone else does. However, everyone is on their own journey and at a different stage in their lives. Just because one individual achieves their goals in a few months does not guarantee you will. Plus, what’s the sense of accomplishing things that others have done if they don’t correspond with your core beliefs and ambitions?
For you, self-esteem and accomplishments are inextricably intertwined.
Our society associates self-worth with accomplishments. We applaud those who accomplish greatness and sympathize with those who do not or cannot. But shouldn’t our sense of self-worth be based on our underlying values, principles, and beliefs? The world may suggest otherwise, but there is no better moment than now to change the narrative. Your self-worth and achievements are both really essential, but they should never be inextricably tied.
Your objectives are unrealistic.
Setting unreasonable objectives for oneself is the perfect fuel for productivity anxiety. No matter what you accomplish or achieve, you will always feel miles away from your intended objective, making you feel as though you are not doing enough. Instead, develop smaller short-term objectives that will help you attain your larger aspirations over time. And it’s critical to be alright with things taking a bit longer than intended. Not everything in life goes as planned, and goals are always changing.
Just remember that what you’re doing now is sufficient, and that no matter how long it takes to make your goals a reality, they (and you) are just as valuable as others who arrive sooner.