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Are you suffering from productivity guilt?

The other day I read an interesting article about 'productivity guilt' and thought I would share some points from this with Forum members. This is important because with productivity guilt, it can create a sense of negativity, increase your anxiety and reduce productivity.

There is good news though. Productivity guilt can be overcome and there are seven ideas shown later in this article.. But it all starts with understanding the roots of productivity guilt and how it affects your performance.



What is productivity guilt?

Productivity guilt, quite simply is that negative feeling associated with a belief that you haven’t achieved enough - or even worked hard enough. This can impact mental health.

The Root Cause

Productivity guilt can result from unrealistic expectations, set by yourself or others in your organisation. It can also be created by unrealistic comparisons you make with other people, when you should focus only on you. We live and work in a society where happiness equals success, which can create a negative feeling that we are not doing enough. But as Einstein said, try not to be a person of success but person of value. "Try not to be a person of success but a person of value" The Consequences Such feelings of guilt can hinder our ability to relax, concentrate and sleep.

Learning to overcome productivity guilt can improve your well-being and ultimately make you more productive.

How to overcome productivity guilt

From the article I read, I have highlighted some ways to overcome productivity guilt:

  • identify the source

  • stop comparing

  • busy vs productive

  • make priorities

  • under promise...

  • create bite-sized actions

  • take care of yourself


1. Identify the source of your guilt

If you are being self-critical, be gentler with yourself and remind yourself of all the great things you are doing. I would also advocate knowing your strengths via StrengthsFinder. If the guilt is being caused by the expectations of others, then show courage and have a grown up conversation about this. Perhaps re-align goals – or even cut out things that don’t really matter. 2. Stop comparing yourself

There is a great line in a song by the band James “If I hadn't seen such riches I could live with being poor” Making comparisons to others can lead to envy. Focus on being better than you are today and not better than others. Know your strengths. Find ways to keep learning.

3. Busy vs productive

Being busy means you are always doing something. Being productive means you are being effective and achieving your goals. Don’t tell people your busy; tell them your productive. Focus on those things that deliver your goals and worry less about the rest.

4. Make priorities

Today you probably did not have enough time to complete everything on your to-do list. Instead learn new ways to prioritise. I am a fan of Stephen Covey’s Important vs Urgent model. Google it.

5. Under promise and over deliver

Unrealistic expectations are the root of many feelings of guilt. Set yourself up for success by ensuring those goals are realistic and achievable.

6. Create bite-sized actions

Break your large tasks into bite-sized pieces to create small and quick wins and a sense of momentum.

Have monthly, weekly and a daily task list.

7. Take care of yourself Distract your thoughts through your hobbies. Get out and about. Talk to people. Immerse yourself in the Forum activities (it should be guilt free).

Celebrate achievements. Go do something different.

Whatever you do - please make sure that you reduce those levels of productivity guilt.


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