Overcoming Productivity Shame

Jan 1, 2021

Equating your productivity with your self-worth is an equation that will always leave you coming up short.

Unavoidably, there will always be more tasks then time or energy to complete them all at once. Distractions, interruptions, and unforeseen requests are universal and inevitable.

To link our worth with our work is to leave ourselves open to productivity shame.

Productivity shame is the chronic feeling of not having done enough. It’s the false belief that others are doing more than you are. New leaders are especially prone to this mentality as they transition from more of a doer role to a visionary role, resulting in a cycle of discontent, or worse yet, burnout.

Left unchecked, the participating inner critic that begins benignly enough by comparing your toil to that of your colleague, then subtly suggests you’ve done something bad by not doing enough, and before you know it, you feel guilty as charged.

Once guilt sets in, shame is not far behind, giving invitation to the notion that not only did you do something bad, but that you are bad.

Workplace culture and society alike further this problem by treating productivity like a badge of honor. However, productivity describes various measures of efficiency and production. Some easier seen than others.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” If we compare ourselves to others we will find ourselves on a continuum between feelings of inferiority and superiority.

The best way to overcome productivity shame is to stop comparing yourself to others and disconnect your self-worth from your perceived productivity.

Developing an appreciation for progress will help. What does a progressive day look like for you? What is your personal definition of enough? Always begin with that definition in mind.

Your worth is priceless and can’t be equated with productivity or any other such measure. You are a formulation all your own.