I love productivity–but in a peculiar way.  I love exploring productivity techniques and learning more about why we work the way we do.  But there is a large chunk of productivity culture that makes my blood boil. 

If you took a look down my daily digest emails from Medium, you would see a list of stories with titles like this:

  • 7 things productive people do before 8am
  • 3 ways to write articles fasters
  • How [insert random thing here] changed my life
  • The 5-step method I used to make 6-figures
  • How to get more done every day
  • 6 things you should stop doing right now to be more productive

I love reading articles like this, but there’s a trick to it: you have to remember that no single piece is going to hold the magic wand that will help you get your shit together. 

And this is really where I start getting annoyed.

Most productivity articles claim that if you follow their steps, it will work for you, too.  And that if it doesn’t, it’s because you’re lazy or you didn’t try hard enough.

Well, guess what?  Young, white, abled men write most productivity advice. So guess who it’s going to work best for?

While I could pick apart a lot of productivity advice I’ve seen over the years, I’m sharing three today that I find to be toxic and wish would just disappear from the productivity landscape.

Are you ready?  Let’s go!

Hustle Culture

Let’s start with the most obvious one.  If you’ve followed my work for very long, you’ve probably heard me get up on my soapbox about this one.

I can’t stand it, and it’s pervasive not just in productivity culture but also in personal finance.

There’s this idea that you should be willing to sacrifice a few years of your life to cushion the rest of it. 

And I just can’t get behind that anymore.  I speak from personal experience on this one.

Hustle culture quickly leads to burnout, poor health, and damaged relationships. 

It comes down to the fact that time is not a renewable resource and other things are more important than money. 

And the most toxic part of it all is the assumption that when you reach your “goal,” you can just shut the hustle culture off.  

That once you reach six or seven figures, you can just relax on the beach with a cocktail, and the hustling is all over. 

The Alternative

Instead of participating in hustle culture, I’m all about sustainable productivity. And that’s not to be confused with slow growth.  You can grow quickly and sustainably.  

It’s a commitment to prioritizing all of the essential parts of your life.  I won’t feed you some myth about balance–you’ll never really be able to show up equally in every aspect of your life at once.  But you can grow a business, spend time with your family, and take care of yourself. 

Yes, there’s power in having a singular, laser-like focus on your business goals, but it drains your life of everything else.  

I’ll take a joyful life and a thriving business, thank you very much. 

The 5am Club

First, let me preface this by saying I am a total morning person.  I love the peaceful quiet of 5am.  From 5am-8am, my brain is like a well-oiled machine that pumps out amazing ideas and can focus.  

But I hate the “5am Club” culture–this belief that to be successful, you have to wake up early, and if you’re not willing to do so, you must be exceedingly lazy or not care about your goals.

Sure, the early bird may get the worm, but that night owl is getting some pretty tasty treats of his own. 

I could go on for ages about why I disagree with this advice and find it toxic, but the big reason is that it fails to consider individual needs.  

We’re all wired differently and have a different set of circumstances. 

Women, in particular, are hurt by this toxic advice.  Unlike men, our energy cycles do not work on a 24-hour rotation.  Even if we default to being a morning person, there are simply times when it’s not feasible or healthy.

The Alternative

Get enough sleep and work when it feels good.  Accept that even if you are a morning person, you won’t always see 5am and that what feels good one week might not the next. 

Give yourself some grace and accept that “one size fits all” productivity advice probably won’t fit you unless you’re a young, white, abled male. 

Try Harder

This is possibly the most toxic of all of the productivity advice because it comes implied in every word of it:

If a technique or strategy isn’t working for you, it’s because you’re not trying hard enough.

Beneath every piece written on productivity advice is the assumption that it will work for you if you have enough discipline and want it bad enough.  

It’s the most toxic and ablist piece of productivity culture.  And it bit me in the ass for years. 

There are plenty of other reasons something isn’t working and “trying harder” or beating yourself up over your perceived lack of discipline doesn’t fix it.

This is especially true if you are neuro-diverse, have health conditions, or have many other obligations (like kids). 

The Alternative

View every piece of productivity advice through the lens of your own life and needs. There is no such thing as the perfect productivity routine that will work for anyone.  

Save yourself a ton of energy and heartache by understanding that from the beginning and working to understand what rhythms work best for you during this season of your life.

And then combine giving yourself grace and understanding with seeking out and asking for the type of help you truly need.  

Instead of beating yourself up for not having self-discipline, consider arranging the accountability you need to get things done. 

You’ll find productivity peace when you stop trying to cram yourself into other people’s boxes–especially since most of those boxes were built with privilege. 

Looking for Accountability?

The doors to Productive Shift, my 5-week accountability program for creative entrepreneurs are open until September 18th (or spots fill up, whichever comes first). Click here to learn more.

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