You would think the answer to that question is, of course not! But do you find yourself volunteering for more projects at work even though your plate is already full? Are you late for family time because you need to finish “just one more thing”? Do you feel the need to be more and more productive? This type of productivity can cross into the danger zone.
You may have thought you are just a workaholic, yet that old-school term is not even close to the harmful need to be more productive we are talking about here. For some people afflicted with this need, it is never enough. Even after finishing a project at work, you feel guilty for not having done more. When you are in this excessive productive mode, you constantly judge yourself for not doing more rather than looking at what you have accomplished.
The pandemic has been a factor in many people falling into this harmful productivity. Our lives were put on hold, and we were finding ourselves having all this free time. So why did we decide we had to throw ourselves so completely into work instead of just being blissfully idle? The pandemic left us very uncertain, and we were in unknown territory. For us lucky enough to still be working, we literally became obsessed with work. With no set work hours, we decided to work all the time. We felt more in control this way.
When we find ourselves in a situation beyond our control or understanding, like the pandemic, we tend to go overboard with the things we can control. The trouble is all this work really hides the discomfort of our situation. Often the more you are fixated on producing more, you produce less, and eventually, you will burn out.
This need to do more and more work wears on our relationships too. You feel trapped and often lash out, which is a natural response. Our attachment to social media is also a factor. We see pictures of perfect sourdough bread and woodworking projects. We think I should be doing things like this. I have all this time, and what have I produced?
If you can realize the telltale signs, you are halfway there. Are you constantly feeling guilty that you should be doing more? Or feel you are wasting time when you are not working? Are you exhausted even first thing in the morning? Do you think it is normal to feel fatigued? Feeling constantly exhausted could be a sign you are trapped in harmful productivity.
Watch how you present yourself at work. Do you feel the need to show off how hard you work? Do you call for a Zoom conference when an email would suffice? Do you make phone calls last longer than necessary instead of just being brief and concise? Do you recognize that your Boss does not care that the task took X number of hours? They only care about the job being done. Whether you take 4 hours or 8, it matters little.
The pandemic is, of course, unprecedented, the current most overused word, but it does have us on high alert. We need to realize that we need to take care of ourselves, mind and body, especially now. You only have one body, and you need to nurture it. This includes your brain too, give it a rest! Unwind however you would like. Take a jog, make afternoon tea, watch some Netflix or just take a nap. Make it a priority as you would a work task. Put it in your schedule. We will get past this pandemic soon, so let’s be more healthy in the meantime.
KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH AND DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO