Opinion: Toxic Productivity Must Stop

By James Stein Sep 24, 2021
Image by Isabel Sperry
Image by Isabel Sperry

Abraham Lincoln said,“Good things come to those who wait, but only what’s left from those who hustle,” Abraham Lincoln said. I first encountered the idea of “productivity” when I was a freshman in high school. I binge-watched “study vlogs” and “study with me” videos on YouTube and started following countless “studytubers”. I was in awe of how these creators managed to be productive for 10-12 hours a day, as they portray in their videos. I wanted to be just like the person in these videos and be “productive” 24/7. 

For my last two years in high school, I had coffee every day for breakfast and dinner, and if I wasn’t busy doing anything from noon to one pm, I would squeeze in a normal meal for lunch into my schedule. I took pride in submitting my tasks ahead of time, but that resulted in lack of sleep. My peers and I would compare our hours of sleep, and oftentimes, I flaunted only achieving zero to four hours of sleep at night like a badge of honor.

I was so engrossed in the idea of hustle culture and the grind, that I didn’t realize what it was doing to my mind. Constantly “hustling” was getting toxic and unhealthy for both my physical, mental and emotional well-being, and I knew things needed to change. I know most students feel the same way and are constantly battling out instances of toxic productivity with the pressure of balancing classes and a social life. 

Taking care of our health is important for our bodies to function well, and for us to be able to focus on doing the things that we do. Resting makes us more productive as we gain more focus and energy on completing our tasks. Even if we do wish and plan to finish all the work we have and study for all our classes in one sitting, it is very unlikely and nearly impossible to do so. It could still be possible to try and work on something for as long as 12 straight hours, but one would start to lose focus as the period lengthens. According to the Washington Post, our brains can only do as much as four to five hours of focus per day. As much as it is the norm in college to pull all-nighters, doing so will only cause more harm than good. 

Pushing ourselves to our limit and overwork may only cause damage to our brains. This, in turn, may have a negative effect and take a toll on our academic performance and we wouldn’t want that. Productivity may look different for different people, and that’s completely fine. As college students, we should learn to listen to our bodies and be able to know when it is time to stop working to avoid burnout and stress. Let’s all do ourselves a favor, take some time to relax and cancel toxic productivity. 

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