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The best tips to overcome toxic productivity

From engaging in deep work and avoiding procrastination to focusing on a healthy work-life balance and more, there are many ways to actually improve your productivity. It goes without saying that “toxic productivity” or overworking at the expense of other facets of your life isn’t one of them. The need to constantly do something jeopardizes your time to rest and relax, which affects the quality of your work, contributes to burnout, and impacts both your physical and mental wellbeing. 

As many people are unable to get out of the vicious cycle of overworking, this Pacific Prime Latin America article offers 5 tips to overcome toxic productivity. 

Individual health insurance blog

Your to-do list should prioritize tasks effectively…

Do you find yourself constantly distracted by emails and notifications from colleagues and rushing to get everything done? This is an example of focusing on other people’s priorities, rather than your own, and requires you to reframe how you approach your to-do list. Commonly referred to as the Urgent-Important Matrix, the Eisenhower Matrix is an excellent way to help you prioritize tasks by both urgency and importance. 

Here’s how it works: 

  1. Do First: These tasks are both important and urgent, which you should strive to get done on the same day. 
  2. Schedule: These tasks are important, but not-so-urgent. While you can certainly do them on the same day if you’ve got time, you can also schedule them for less busy days. 
  3. Delegate: These tasks are urgent, but are less important and don’t necessarily need to be completed by you. Try delegating them to others to free up your time. 
  4. Don’t Do: These tasks are neither urgent nor important, so you should avoid them at all costs. 

Focusing on the first and second quadrants alone ensures that the work you do has optimal results and prevents you from overworking for the sake of it. It also helps you make progress on things that are meaningful to you. A good tip to actually stick to this method is by limiting yourself to no more than 8 tasks per quadrant, and only adding new tasks once you’ve completed some of the ones on your list. 

… and should equally emphasize your personal life and commitments.

When making your to-do list, remember that your career is just part of your life. If you have to prioritize going to a parent-teacher meeting or hitting the gym at the expense of missing the mark on something at work, then that’s not the end of the world and you’re simply practicing “professional detachment”. As Laurie Ruettimann coined the term, she explains the concept very eloquently: 

“Professional detachment is the ability to distance oneself from emotions during uncomfortable and stressful times at work. Even when it’s awkward or intense, you don’t get caught up in the emotional turmoil. Not everything you do at your job is at Defcon 1, and without you, it won’t all explode into tiny pieces.”

Breaks should be scheduled into your work day…

Taking breaks helps you avoid wearing yourself out and increases your productivity. So avoid desk lunches and enjoy your hour-long break. Whether it’s going out for a meal with your colleagues and socializing or taking a long walk and breathing in fresh air, use the time to rejuvenate so that you come back to the office with renewed energy and enthusiasm. Mini breaks throughout the day for a quick coffee or stretch are also good ideas. 

…including breaks to do nothing once you’re off the clock

Yes, you read that right! Breaks to do nothing are important every now and then. Unproductive activities like lying down on the grass, people watching at a cafe, or even meditating helps you counteract the constant need to be productive. If you can unplug during these unproductive activities, that would be even better. So turn off your smartphone, take off your smart watch, and detach from the “always on” culture – even just for a moment.

Don’t forget the boundaries between work and personal time

Coming back to the concept of “professional detachment”, you shouldn’t forget that there’s a clear divide between your time on the clock and your private time. Knowing where this line is can be difficult- especially if you’re working remotely from home, but it’s still important to respect it. You can set your own cues to help you transition from work life to personal life, for example, when your kids arrive home from school or the start of an evening gym class. 

Speaking of boundaries, it’s also important to set healthy boundaries at work. Don’t let your colleagues take advantage of you, succumb to bullying and harassment in the workplace, or accept any other signs of a toxic workplace for that matter. Setting boundaries requires identification of your core values and beliefs, communication to other people, and planning for difficult situations. 

Get in touch with Pacific Prime Latin America today!

A big part of being productive is being healthy. If you don’t already have a health insurance plan that enables you to put your health first, then you’re more than welcome to get in touch with Pacific Prime Latin America. As a global health insurance brokerage, we have over two decades of experience helping individuals and families find the right health plan for their needs and budget, and can help you do the same. 

Contact us to get started today!

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Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime Latin America
Suphanida is a Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime, an award-winning global health insurance and employee benefits specialist.

With over 5 years of experience in the field, Suphanida spends the majority of her day synthesizing complex pieces of insurance-related information and translating this into easy-to-understand, engaging, and effective content across a variety of media such as articles, infographics, whitepapers, videos, and more.

Suphanida is also responsible for planning and publishing three whitepapers released annually by Pacific Prime: The State of Health Insurance Report, The Cost of Health Insurance Report, and The Global Employee Benefits Trends Report. Additionally, she handles the LinkedIn profiles of Pacific Prime’s Founder and CEO, as well as Global HR Lead.

Suphanida’s strengths lie in her strong research and analytical skills, which she has gained from her BA in Politics from the University of Warwick and Erasmus Mundus Joint MA in Journalism from Aarhus University and City, University of London.

Being of Thai-Indian origin and having lived, studied, and worked in Thailand, the UK, and Denmark, Suphanida also has a unique, multicultural perspective that helps her understand the struggles of expats and globetrotters.

Outside of work, she enjoys traveling to new places and immersing herself in different cultures.
Suphanida Thakral