How to get over productivity guilt


Constantly pushing yourself to be productive can be exhausting.

If you constantly feel what you are doing is not enough and need to push yourself a lot more despite achieving quite a bit, you may have productivity guilt.

This phenomenon has become more prevalent during the pandemic because most employers and workers aren't sure what average productivity looks like in the times we currently live in.

Just like there is a need to deal with slacking at work, you can also make a case to ensure you don't overwork yourself to compensate for a perceived lack of effort on your part.

So let's look at ways to deal with productivity guilt.

How to get over productivity guilt

Realize the guilt's destructive effects

Productivity guilt is not good for you or your productivity, for that matter.

Beating yourself up over a few unchecked items on your task list will not make you more productive; it does the opposite.

Ergo, once you realize that it doesn't help you, it will be easier for you to stop feeling that way.

Honestly assess repercussions

We often overestimate the consequences of not being at 100% on an odd day here and there.

Therefore, it would help if you understood that off days are fine as long as they are few and far between.

Expecting perfection at all times is unrealistic, and you holding yourself to an unrealistic standard will hamper your ability to function effectively in the long term.

Don't hesitate to ask for help

You can go at everything alone, and it is completely fine to ask for help when you need it.

A good team has members looking out for each other and has your back when you need them.

So if you need something done and believe someone's assistance will help, go ahead and make a request, and as long as you are reasonable, there should be little resistance.


Avoid multi-tasking and use time-blocking

One of the most common traps people fall into when feeling productivity guilt is trying to do too many things at once.

This doesn't help you become more productive; it does the opposite.

So pick a task, work on it, finish it and only then move to another task instead of constantly switching between tasks.

You can also block time for specific tasks and dedicate that slot just for that task to help your single-tasking.

Use tools at your disposal

If you are a knowledge worker, there is a high probability that tools exist that can help you record your work and assess your work objectively.

Tools like Asana & Trello can help you record, manage and review tasks you have accomplished.

The more confirmation/signals you have of your productivity, the less anxiety or guilt you'll feel about it.

Outline your daily expectations

The ability to clearly define and outline expectations at the beginning of the day is an underrated skill.

When you know what needs to be done at the end of the day and can objectively evaluate your productivity against it, there can be little doubt about your productivity.

Start your day by clearly defining your daily expectations and end it with an honest assessment; this will help you avoid unnecessary productivity guilt.

Final thoughts on productivity guilt

While it is inevitable for us to feel guilty about our productivity, the frequency and the intensity of that feeling are still in our control.

Using the tips mentioned above, you can overcome the baggage of productivity guilt stopping you from having a good day.

It is okay to take time off or have an odd off day; the more important thing is how you manage your downtime and maintain a sustainable level of productivity without beating yourself over it.

Thanks for reading.