- Toxic productivity is an unhealthy desire to be productive at all times, and at all costs…even when it’s not expected of you.
- To navigate through toxic productivity, we need to recognize and acknowledge when we are in a state of over-productivity and then we need to discern our next right thing by reframing our thoughts.
- Then we need to consciously choose healthy productivity by choosing what serves us, our families, and our students well.
Happy New Year, Teach Better Family! Most of us are thinking about heading back into our schools in the next couple of days for the final 5-6 months of the school year.
And this next chunk of our school year will require a lot of work.
I recently listened to an interview with Dr. Laurie R. Santos, professor of psychology and head of the Silliman Residential College at Yale University. She also hosts the popular podcast, The Happiness Lab. In this interview, Dr. Santos shared a term I can’t shake from my mind. The term is toxic productivity.Essentially, toxic productivity is an unhealthy desire to be productive at all times, and at all costs...even when it’s not expected of you. Did you catch that last part? Even when it’s not expected of you. Click To Tweet
What is Toxic Productivity?
In this Teach Happier space, we have explored the term toxic positivity. But toxic productivity?! Putting these two words together inspired me to learn more about what this could mean for us as educators.
Essentially, toxic productivity is an unhealthy desire to be productive at all times, and at all costs…even when it’s not expected of you. Did you catch that last part? Even when it’s not expected of you. Oftentimes it is the expectations we put on ourselves that make us franticly over-productive. Stressed. Weary.
Have you ever felt like a failure when you weren’t doing something? I know I have. On nights and weekends when I find myself not being productive, I can feel stressed for not being busy and stressed. What in the world?! It’s maddening!
It’s admirable to accomplish tasks at work or at home, but productivity becomes toxic when we feel we are so hyper-focused on our tasks that it leaves us in a constant state of frustration, overwhelm, and stress. Neuroscience tells us that our nervous system cannot handle when we are in a constant state of productivity. When our minds and bodies can’t keep up with this pace, we can become physically or emotionally unhealthy. Thankfully, there are a few steps we can take to help us feel healthier, more aligned, and balanced.[scroll down to keep reading]
How Can We Navigate Toxic Productivity?
The first thing we need to do is recognize and acknowledge when we are in a state of over-productivity.
After we recognize and acknowledge, we need to discern our next right thing by reframing our thoughts. Brittany Wong, author of “What is Toxic Productivity?” (April 2021), suggests we eliminate the thought of “What should I be doing right now?” and replace it with, “What could I do, take care of, or create with ease now?” Furthermore, when our tired mind and body encourage us to do just one more thing, instead of hyper-focusing on what we haven’t done, we should recall a few things that have been accomplished.
Choosing Healthy Productivity
As educators, parents, partners, friends, siblings, and the countless other roles we have, life will always be busy. There will always be endless tasks to complete. Let’s try to lean in and listen to our minds, bodies, and spirits and notice when the focus on our checklists and to-dos becomes unsustainable. Let’s choose what serves us, our families, and our students well. We have the option of healthy productivity or toxic productivity.
What do we have to do?
What do we want to do?
What do we need to do?
What do we get to do?
Let’s get doing. Let’s get healthy.
Small Shifts, Big Gifts!
When you notice yourself becoming frustrated and overwhelmed with your tasks at work or at home, ask yourself, “What could I do, take care of, or create with ease now?” and see if that helps you discern your next right thing.
About Suzanne Dailey
Suzanne Dailey is a proud member of the Teach Better Family! She is an instructional coach in the Central Bucks School District where she has the honor and joy of working with elementary teachers and students in 15 buildings. Suzanne is Nationally Board Certified, a Fellow of the National Writing Project, and has a master’s degree in Reading. She is dedicated to nurturing and developing the whole child and teacher. Suzanne lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.