The Problem with Productivity

I take great delight in ripping apart widely-accepted values that literally every economist and “Gary from HR” would poop their pants over if they read this blog.

And right now, I want to take aim at productivity.

The word makes me want to crawl out of my skin.

I say this as someone who sunk into a numbing despair in 2021 when I was on disability for hand injuries and my productivity hit an all-time low. It was an unnerving place to be–in complete rest. I felt like a useless sack of shit. I was twitching, watching the dust accumulate on my house plants, knowing I couldn’t do a thing about it.

I also wave my pitchfork at productivity as someone who for many years compulsively showed up as a busy-bee ready to prove myself through every email sent, every A+ earned on my essays.

“How was your day, Krissy?”

Well, consciously I’m gonna tell you “It was fine, good, nothing to complain about!”–but a sub-story is brewing underneath where I’m rating myself on how productive I was today on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is always, always impossible to reach, so I can simmer in my own system of punishment.


Thank the goddesses who lounge around eating grapes that I am in a much, much different place now.

It’s not that being productive is the problem. It’s that “productivity” carries a lot of socio-economic baggage with it. I live in an individualistic, capitalist, patriarchal society. So productivity is a supremely untouchable value. Organizations see their employees as output robots. Even if you’re not working for the man, you still suffer from a felt-sense need to push yourself as a solopreneur.

And let’s take it a step further.

Any area of your life could be affected by the compulsion to overwork and overextend yourself in an effort to create tangible results or feel like you did something worthy.

The news reported recently that productivity in the U.S. has made the biggest drop since they started measuring this shit in the 40’s. Twice as big as the last slump. Economists and Gary from HR are squeezing their buttcheeks together right now, harder than ever.

Everyone has their opinion on why this has happened. The quiet-quitters, the post-pandemic disillusionment, the lazy millennials and Gen Z. They point to the steady decline of Japan as a warning of what happens to unproductive societies. So the question they’re sweating over is–how do we get these lazy fucks to be more productive again?!

What if…

(y’all know I love my “what if” statements!)

…we’re just readjusting to what is a healthy level of productivity?

And some of us are settling into what actually feels right, because we’re not all born to produce at the same levels or in the same ways. And in order for some people to become engaged in what they desire in their life, they need to go through the dark tunnel of slothfulness right now. To be clear, I am not in favor of the sloth-driven life as a permanent solution. I believe whole-heartedly–perhaps to a fault–that we are all meant to fulfill our life’s purpose and chase what our soul desires. Not just through our livelihoods, but our relationships, communities, and personal pleasures.

Despite the drop in productivity, I know there are many, many womxn who are still showing up with soul-crushing levels of productivity at work and in their personal life.

The conditioning to become highly caffeinated producers in society starts young. Impossible expectations were put on us by our caregivers (who were handed the same toxic ideals from their parents), which was then reinforced by educators, mentors, and supervisors.

It isn’t conscious. It’s compulsive and involuntary. It’s an effort to fill a void within that boils down to lack of self-worth. Our worthiness is tied to our productivity. 

Without productivity, who are we? 

“Workaholic” is often associated with a disheveled father in a business suit coming home late to his family. Let’s agree that this image limits the extent to which this disease has affected the greater population, in particular womxn. And that workaholism shows up in areas of life outside of our jobs. 

Without the measurable results of our work–whether it’s creating yet another manual that no one fucking reads or meticulously cleaning the baseboards at home–it’s an addiction if you can’t comfortably be in your body for long periods in the absence of that work.

The discomfort of not working is extremely powerful. It leads to an impulse to squash the discomfort by doing more, creating more, producing more. 

But how does one break up with their workaholic habits?

By integrating your unconscious, shame-rejected self into broad daylight and accessing your emotional and body wisdom. In other words, the way out of workaholism is moving towards the discomfort that keeps you treading in water, day after day. Integrating what you avoid by staying busy is what allows that fear-based emotion to move through you and be released.

I’m offering Life Coaching for womxn who struggle with workaholism, whether professionally or personally. If you’re looking for a radical release from your own captivity, book a free consult call with me. I know this struggle, for it was deeply ingrained in me long ago. You can’t think your way through this addiction. Let me guide you through a whole-body, soul-driven, magical unfolding of who you really are beneath the productivity facade.

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