The Problem with Productivity Culture

Get it done. Work. Hustle. These are my productivity mantras.

Through advancing my career, keeping my house clean, growing my spiritual life and making healthy-but-still edible recipes, there is a lot to handle in my life. Staying on top of everything 100% is stressful at best. At my worst, this juggling act can be debilitating.

I often find myself believing that marking another task off my to-do list will make me feel less stressed, less irritable, less tired. Often, that check only leads to three more empty checkboxes in its place.

Comparison on social media fuels the fire. My apartment could never be as posh and well kept as hers. My gluten-free, vegan whatever’s have much more flavor and bounce that his. Nothing is safe. My relationship, my family, the food I eat, the dreams I have all fall into the flames.

Productivity culture presses on me to achieve as often as possible. I make a to-do list of things I’ve already done just for the thrill of checking each neatly-drawn box. If I’m especially desperate for a fix, I’ll pen “make to-do list” at the top of my paper just so I can mark it complete. But more checks on my list doesn’t least to more joy, more mindfulness, more honesty or more generosity. All I have are more measly checks.

Don’t get me wrong — I love feeling like a boss girl and running the world as much as the next lady. But when this becomes the universal standard of success, there is little space for diverse kinds of happiness.

Happiness isn’t found only in achievements. It’s found in offering kindness to a stranger, in finally healing from heartbreak, in taking responsibility for a mistake, and in learning to cope well in difficult circumstances. These things will stay with me much longer than a task on to-do list that is just going to be tossed out like last night’s pore strip.

I’m training my mind to be joyful in mundane achievements and even in failures. It’s okay not to be a boss. It’s okay not to “kill it” everyday. It’s okay to set down the list of everything you still need to do so you can take a moment to appreciate how far you’ve come.

The happiness that comes from simply being productive is shallow and fleeting. Fill your life and mind with deeper joy and stop relying on checklists and comparisons for your fulfillment. If you never finish another project or earn another award, you’re still good. Still worthy of love and deserving of happiness.

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