The rise of 'toxic productivity' and 6 ways to deal with it, properly.

In 2020, nearly four in five Australians suffered from burnout, thanks in part to, you know, the pandemic

As millions of workers moved to a work-from-home set-up, confusion and chaos fused and boundaries were blurred. One of the consequences was burnout

In fact, the average worker's overtime increased from 236 hours to 436 hours in 2020, according to a global study commissioned by management app Asana

Another study found that 70 per cent of people were working more hours at home than when in the physical office. This added up to about $98.6 billion worth of unpaid overtime for Australian workers.

So, yeah. Everyone is a bit tired.

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One cause of burnout can be toxic productivity. This is when no amount of work is ever enough to ease your sense of guilt, so you have an unhealthy obsession with productivity. 

"Most people think that if they create stress and overwhelm then it's going to fix something. And this is not about fixing something; It's about choosing something different," business mentor Simone Milasas tells Mamamia about the phenomenon.

Evidently, more and more people are suffering toxic productivity with work from home set ups.


"You've got to be aware of where you work from home, so you don't spill your work all over the place. So that you're not working in the kitchen, the dining room, the bedroom and everywhere, then all of a sudden the whole entire house becomes a workplace."

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Here are her six tips for ending the cycle of toxic productivity. 

1. Ask yourself if you're in a toxic cycle of trying to prove your 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," Milasas explains. 

2. Ask yourself if you are taking on other people's burnout.

Milasas says it is possible for other people's stress and exhaustion to be projected onto you by your friends, family and colleagues. Sensitive people are particularly prone to this, she says. If you think this is happening to you, recognise it is happening and try not to carry the weight of their burnout. 

3. Figure out what matters.

"Figure out what in your reality you have to change so that your life works for you," Milasas says. "Ask this question: 'What matters to me?'"

4. Don't check your apps first thing in the morning.

Small habits such as checking your phone as soon as you open your eyes can be seemingly benign, but actually harmful. 


"Instead of waking up and checking your email, Slack, or messages, take a moment to ground yourself," the business mentor explains. 

"Don't allow your phone or your emails to predict your day."

5. Realise that you can do more from a state of ease and relaxation. 

The business mentor adds it is important to ensure you have downtime in your everyday routine - something we (ironically) may have lost during the pandemic, because the distinction between work and life became less clear inside the house. 

"Create this downtime for you, whether it's every morning you go for a walk or every afternoon you do pilates. Do something for you, so that you're not constantly working," Milasas says.

"Get rid of the mentality that stress equals creating more," she adds. "If you're working on the things that really matter, and you're 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."

6. Don't judge yourself. 

"Don't judge what you're choosing, ever," Milasas continues. "Just keep choosing what you want, and remember to have fun. What if the purpose of life was to have fun?" 

For more from Simone Milasas, you can check out her website here

Feature image: Getty

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