What is productivity anxiety? It’s basically the feeling that you don’t do enough. You will never feel satisfied no matter how long you work or how accomplished you are. There is always more.
Anxiety about productivity can also be characterized by shame over doing things you wouldn’t consider productive. Even on a day off you will feel guilty for not completing your never-ending to-do list and instead allowing yourself to rest and recuperate.
Although it may seem like the fastest way to stay ahead of the rest, constant working can lead to you falling further behind the pack. The constant need to do something can quickly lead to burnout, resentment at work, and even mental health problems like anxiety in other areas. It feels like it is dangerous to allow yourself to relax and feel incredibly guilty about what you do.
The to-do lists become so overwhelming that we couldn’t do anything but work sometimes, and we never enjoy what we are doing. To work at a high level, we need to shift our mentality to see that taking time for hobbies, self-care, and recovery is vital. This is the best way to achieve your goals and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
You now know what productivity anxiety is, and how it can cause serious mental illness. Here are 9 signs you might be suffering from it.
1. Never take the time for true rest
If you aren’t spending enough time doing what you love or resting because you feel ashamed about being too busy, you may be suffering from productivity anxiety. It is not a crime to rest and it is essential for maintaining optimal productivity.
You can change your outlook and take time off if you have come to this realization. Our personal favorite was adding things like “take a shower” or “spend an hour reading” to our to-do list. This helps to stop putting these important leisure activities on the back burner.
2. You feel more in control when you do things
People feel they have control over their careers and their lives by ‘doing’ everything. The pandemic showed us that even things we believe we can control, such as our careers, are not always in our control. You don’t have to feel in control of everything in your life if you are someone who thrives on feeling that way.
Which is the only way we can truly control? Our time. Our time is so constant and unpredictable, just like our lives and careers. As we age, we realize how important our time is. So if you feel like your life is constantly on the go, take a moment to reflect on where your time is being spent. It is important to take responsibility for our time and be accountable. You can set time limits for work, or schedule time for relaxation and self-care.
3. It is necessary to feel valued
Productivity anxiety is when you feel you have to be productive in order to feel valued at work and in your personal life. Today’s world places high value on being busy and praises it. This harmful idea basically suggests that your output is more valuable than your ambitions and values. Many people believe that being busier will make them happier and more valuable.
Instead of accepting everything you can’t do, choose the things that you believe in and are able to do. This should be the highest value for every individual. The more people who actively participate in this endeavor, the easier it is to change the culture of busyness and internalization.
4. Sleeping is difficult
This is a simple symptom to identify. Productivity anxiety could be the reason you are having trouble sleeping. Our sleep is the first sign that we are falling back into this cycle of anxiety. There are many things that can make you sleepless, but if your thoughts seem to be focused on productivity shame, then you will need to make the necessary changes to get quality sleep again.
5. It’s impossible to feel satisfied with your efforts
People with productivity anxiety won’t be content with the work they do. It will make them feel inadequate. They are constantly busy and critical about how they get things done. They don’t take the time to celebrate and reflect on the things that they did.
Take the time to reflect on what you have accomplished and celebrate it. Reflect on what you did not achieve and what you can do to improve your chances of achieving more.
6. Distractions can help you forget your feelings
Have you ever wondered why you are suffering from productivity anxiety and toxic busyness? Perhaps you believe you have to work hard to be appreciated, or you want to avoid falling behind the others. Or maybe it is because distractions allow you to forget your emotions and feelings.
Many people feel uncomfortable being alone. They don’t want the rush of emotions that comes with it. However, it is not a productive thing to shut down these emotions. You can give your emotions space, allow them to be felt and then use mindfulness techniques to recognize them. These feelings will take time, and you need to be patient. However, they can bring you healing that will allow you to achieve greater success in your life. It’s a great achievement to work through your emotions!
7. It feels like everyone is always doing more than you
Like how they won’t be satisfied with the work they do, people with productivity anxiety always compare themselves with others. They will never be able to compare their work with themselves. Everyone is on a different journey at a different time in their lives. You don’t have to be able to accomplish the same goals as someone else. It’s not worth attempting to achieve the same goals as someone else if it doesn’t align well with your values and ambitions.
8. You are intrinsically connected to your self-worth and your achievements
Society ties self-worth and achievements together. We celebrate the great achievers, and we understand those who can’t or won’t. Our core values, beliefs, and morals should not be the basis of our self-worth. The world may think otherwise, but the moment is the best time to change this narrative. Both your self-worth as well as your accomplishments are extremely important, but they should not be intertwined.
9. Your goals are not realistic
Unrealistic goals are a great way to fuel productivity anxiety. You will always feel far from your destination no matter how much you achieve. This can lead to feeling like you are not doing enough. You should instead set small, short-term goals to help you reach your larger dreams. It’s okay to accept that things may take longer than you expected. Life is not always going according to plan. Goals will continue to evolve.
Remember that you are doing enough right now and your dreams (and you!) will come true no matter how fast you go.