Why Is There The Pressure To Always Be Productive?

Updated October 3, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team


In today’s world, there is constant pressure to be productive. Our days are typically filled with long lists of to-dos. Productivity has been ingrained in our society. 

Due to the pandemic, many individuals are working from home or have lost their jobs. You may suddenly find yourself with more free time due to factors such as not having a commute or no longer having in-person meetings, and it’s normal to feel pressure about being productive with this newfound free time. This productivity guilt can also be known as “time anxiety.” Time anxiety is the belief that your time is precious, and you don’t want to waste a minute of it. People who have time anxiety often fill their days with many tasks and activities that make them feel productive. However, time anxiety can also take a toll on an individual’s physical and mental health.

Productivity And Mental Health

Tackle Feelings Of Guilt About Productivity With Online Therapy

Individuals that feel the constant need to always to be productive often live in a sense of urgency, and may overcommit. When we live with a sense of urgency and are always thinking about our next task, we keep ourselves from focusing on the present moment and being mindful. Overcommitting and overwhelming ourselves with tasks can ultimately lead to chronic stress. Chronic stress can lead to things as extreme as sleeplessness, depression, and anxiety, and when our physical and mental health isn’t at its best, our productivity won’t be either.

When productivity doesn’t seem to be on par with what it should be, individuals may feel guilt. However, a certain level of productivity is important in our daily lives as it gives us a sense of purpose and achievement, which is vital to our overall well-being. It’s important to find a balance between productivity and mental health. It’s perfectly okay not to be productive every minute of the day or even every day.

The pressure to be productive during the pandemic can also be heightened by social media. Many individuals may need to stay productive to avoid their feelings of anxiety and uncertainty about the future. This productivity trend spreads on social media and pressures others with the need to be productive as well. On the surface, everyone is highlighting their most productive moments, but that may not be the reality. Additionally, masking our feelings with tasks and repressing them by constantly staying busy won’t make those uncomfortable emotions go away.

Mental Health Support

If the current state of the world and the pressure to be productive is affecting your mental health, therapy may be an effective solution. BetterHelp can provide virtual mental health support from thousands of licensed therapists. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp therapists, from people experiencing similar issues.

“I've been working with Krista for just a few weeks and she has helped me in areas including anxiety, perfectionism, workaholism and co-dependency. She's been very supportive in providing resources and strategies for building a strong and healthy relationship with myself.”

Learn More About Krista Lacroix

“Janee’ has helped me identify patterns of behavior in relationships and my tendency to be a workaholic that I didn’t realize had such an impact on my life as a whole. She is understanding, patient, and willing to ask the questions that really make me self-reflect on what I want, what makes me feel fulfilled, and how I’m taking care of myself as a whole. I couldn’t be more thankful for starting working with Janee’ pre-quarantine because she’s helped so much with working through the emotional aspects of deciding to end a relationship, refocusing on taking care of myself and what truly makes me happy, and also getting through these uncertain times given the pandemic.”

Learn More About Janee’ Johnson

Other Solutions Besides Therapy

For some individuals, therapy may not be accessible, or they are not ready to take that step. There are also simple things you can do at home that can improve your mental health. First, understand that it is okay not to be productive every single day. Free time is incredibly important to recharge your body and mind. Allocating free time to do things you like or just to relax can boost your mood, improve performance, and increase overall focus and concentration, making you more resilient when it’s time to be productive. It’s so important to find an equilibrium of free time and productivity. 

When we are always thinking about our next task, our minds never stay in the present. Practicing mindfulness can be an incredibly helpful way to bring peace into your life and focus on the present moment. Mindfulness can also relieve stress, anxiety, emotional reactivity, and rumination. When our mental health is in a good state, it is easier to take on what life throws at us. One of the most helpful mindfulness techniques you can do at home is meditation. Try it for a few days and see the difference it can make.

Here is a list of other things you can try throughout your day to feel productive while also taking care of your mental health at the same time:

  • Exercise and eat healthy. Your physical health and mental health are a two-way street. If your body feels good, there’s a high chance your mind will too. Regular exercise also boosts those feel-good hormones, which can reduce stress and symptoms of depression.
  • Improve your mental health. If you’re not ready for therapy, there are many techniques you can practice at home that can improve your mental health. Practicing mindfulness, for example, meditation or breathwork exercises, can improve your mood, reduce anxiety, and aid in being more present in your life.
  • Learn a new skill. If you find yourself with downtime, it may be the perfect opportunity to learn a new skill that you’ve put to the side or even improve one you already have. This is an optimal way to increase productivity while also giving you a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
  • Journaling is another great tool that is easy to do and costs practically nothing. All you need is a pen and paper. Keeping a journal allows you to release any negative emotions you’re feeling while helping you define and analyze them, which helps you heal.


Tackle Feelings Of Guilt About Productivity With Online Therapy

Our society is constantly putting pressure on us to achieve more and do more. This can become exhausting for both our mental and physical health when we feel like we should always be doing more, and therefore are never doing enough. It is okay- and in fact important- for you take time for yourself and realize that this pressure to always be productive is not realistic. 


If you’re experiencing pressure to be productive and it’s affecting your mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. BetterHelp is an online therapy platform that can match you with a licensed therapist who can provide you with tools and guidance to improve your mental health and overall well-being.

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