The Problem of Productivity Culture: When Productivity Becomes Bad

woman in white long sleeve shirt sitting beside man in black and white checkered dress shirt

As you already know, at the beginning of every month, I always write an article to help you have a productive month.

But this time, I want to write something more helpful.

As a productivity coach, one thing I have realized is that productivity can become a bad thing if you do it too much.

What do I mean by this:

There’s something called productivity culture and this culture states that to be productive, you have to work for many hours and reduce the time you spend on other things (like your hobbies and rest) so you can have more time to work.

tired black man lying on opened book and homework papers
Productivity Culture

But is this really what being productive is about?

One thing I always tell my clients and people who come to me for productivity advice is that; it is better to find three goals you can achieve easily, focus on them, and get them done than to gather 100 things you will like to do in a month and end up not doing them or worse getting burnt out at the end.

Productivity can become a bad thing when it is done too much.

Is being productive bad? Not at all.

But like every other good thing, if it isn’t done moderately it can become really bad for you, your work, and your life.

When does productivity become bad?

 How to know you are doing productivity wrong:

When you feel overworked yet you can’t stop working

man working at desk with computers in office

You will know you have gotten on the wrong side of the productivity culture when you’re tired and yet you still keep working.

I heard somewhere that we don’t become productive to work more, rather we become productive to work less and rest/play more.

Instead of finding time to do more work and putting yourself at a risk of burnout or putting your health at risk, it is better to take a rest and prioritize yourself.

When you prioritize work over rest and play

photo of woman using silver laptop with her child playing on grass field
Prioritizing work over rest and play

For a long time I’ve always felt like it was bad to rest and play (in this term, I mean watching a movie, reading a book, or going out to have some fun).

Until I realized I was on the wrong side of productivity. I would usually berate myself for taking breaks, taking a nap, or doing something fun.

But this should not be.

It will only make you hate working eventually.

It will also put you under undue pressure.

So, instead of prioritizing work, prioritize rest and play, then ensure you work at a designated time.

When you find yourself struggling to achieve your goals

man covering face with hands near car trunk
Struggling to achieve your goals

This has happened to the best of us. You compound yourself at the beginning of the month with 20 goals you would like to achieve for the month but at the end of the month, you end up achieving none.

One major reason why this keeps happening is because you have too many goals.

Instead of having 20 goals, why not have 3 or 4?

By minimizing your goals, you get to focus on achieving them one after the other. You also get to focus on doing other things in that month and also prioritizing yourself.

If you find it hard to achieve your goals or to be productive without constantly feeling burnout and overworked, reach out to me. I can help.

I have helped individuals and organizations plan a healthy and productive life without overworking themselves and also leaving a lot of time for rest and play.

You can read more on Avid Planner.

How to be productive the right way

Have cheat days

high angle view of lying down on grass
Have cheat days

No matter how you try to work hard and live routinely, there will be days you don’t feel like doing anything. 

Days you just want to rest and take a break from everything.

 Don’t despise those days.

Embrace them and take all the rest you need.

Plan the right way

man in white stripes long sleeves drawing in front of a water
Plan rightly

A lot of people plan their day ineffectively and unrealistically. And they end up either having the most unproductive day or doing too much work and having no time to rest.

So, ensure you plan the right way. If you would love a guide to help you plan, download this free ebook. If you would love a more specific guide to planning right, reach out to me.

Be intentional about taking a break

texta sticky note around crumpled yellow papers
Take a break

I know you’ve probably been taking a lot of breaks—sometimes—but you need to be intentional.

You need to prioritize a normal life outside of work. You need to add ‘taking a break’ to your schedule.

Don’t make taking breaks and resting a ‘if I find the time’ thing.

Be intentional about taking breaks and add them to your schedules and planners.


Productivity is a good thing. Being productive will help you achieve your goals at a stipulated time but you should not also overdo it.

Ensure you prioritize your rest, your health, your fun, and family.

Productivity Culture does not have to be bad but it is left to you to decide what kind of productive life you want to live.

Also, remember that being productive is not about how much work you do or how many goals you achieve in a short time. 

Being productive is about how you’re able to balance your work, rest, goals, and fun.

Have a productive month!

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About Author

I am a Freelance Writer, Blogger, Content Creator, and Productivity Coach.

I am passionate about writing, designing, God, and helping people achieve their goals and be productive.