There is one question that workers don’t hear enough, and if they do hear it, it is usually said in passing as a rhetorical question. That question is:
“How are you doing?”
In today’s productivity-obsessed workplace, there needs to be time set apart for mental and physical health. If you work in a place that prioritizes productivity over your mental and physical health, there are things you can do to keep from burning out.
What is Toxic Productivity?
In business, things have to get done. Successful businesses aren’t built by people who are aimless and lazy. That said, they aren’t built by people who flame out after short periods of time either. Toxic productivity is overworking at the expense of the other facets of your life. Sure, productivity is essential to business success, but if you are burning yourself out, compromising your relationships, and not enjoying your life in the least, is it really worth it?
A toxic productivity mindset is one that manifests itself in what constantly needs to get done, or more accurately, what you need to do. You may look at your workload and think that there is no way that this amount of work leaves you with any time for anything else in your life and that can be a very stressful situation for anyone.
One of the things that builds this toxicity is actually remote work. Since a lot of organizations that depend on remote workers for sustainability will operate the same as they would if everyone was working in an office, it can be easy to forget that remote workers work from home. This means that, along with all the things that they need to do for work, they are constantly faced with all the things that need to be done at home as well. The obliteration of boundaries for remote workers can create situations that they didn’t consider when they started working from home: burnout, depression, and dips in efficiency.
If you are constantly worried about the things you should be doing for work, and if to-do lists don’t seem like they have an end in place, it won’t take long for workers morale to dip significantly. So, while productivity is mandatory, the detrimental effects that can be seen for workers, remote or otherwise, if they prioritize work over all else can really create major mental and physical health problems.
What is Burnout?
You never really heard much about people burning out except in really high-pressure situations until the past few years where businesses have come to measure the effectiveness of their employees in productivity. People are people, and have distractions, have moods, have things they need to do other than what is dictated by their employer. Unfortunately, they depend so highly on their paycheck just to sustain their lives that they feel like there is no choice but to prioritize work over all else; to their detriment, and often the business’ as well.
People that suffer from some type of burnout don’t produce as they should as they are constantly distracted with the amount of work, rather than focused on the task they are working on. If someone is running on fumes, can they really be as valuable as they can be? Probably not.
Three Ways to Overcome Toxic Productivity
Let’s go through three actions workers can take to help them avoid burning out:
Focus on Important Tasks
It’s extremely easy to be caught up by one seemingly urgent task after another, playing fireman to fire after fire. One very simple and effective way to prioritize tasks is through what is called the Eisenhower decision matrix. Named for the former U.S. President, the strategy is to label all of your tasks one of the following:
- Important and Urgent
- None of the Above
By doing the important and urgent things first, you will seem to immediately have more control over your work experience and therefore be at a reduced risk of burnout.
One of the best ways to avoid burnout is to actively keep in mind that what you do and how you go about doing that thing aren’t essential to your identity as a person. If they are, then you will have much more pressure on yourself.
You simply are not what you do for a living.
If things go sideways at work for a bit, it’s not the end of the world. This perspective can go a long way toward keeping things from going sideways everywhere else.
Set Clear Boundaries
As mentioned above, one of the biggest problems with burnout is that people are being asked to effectively be at work all of the time and it doesn’t leave much room for anything else. For the small business this can be a real issue because they only have so many resources to get the job done as it is and if certain workers take time off, it exacerbates the problems that are created.
Thing is: Everyone gets time off, and should take it.
If you put in for vacation or for some time off, don’t engage with people if they need more than just simple answers. Even these conversations can cause a disdain for your job. The clearer you are about having a strict work/life balance, the less involved people will make you when you are off the clock.
Modern Technology Can Make You More Productive, and Therefore, Less Stressed
If you have repetitive tasks that can be automated, there is a good chance that modern technology can help you eliminate, reduce, or streamline manual tasks in the office to help your users get more productive work done.
We all know productivity is important, but so is having a life that you can enjoy. For more great business and technology-related content, be sure to visit our blog.