How To Stay Focused and Productive In The Age Of Toxic Productivity

In this YouTube Video, self-proclaimed productivity enthusiast Austin Williams gives a balanced perspective on staying productive in a world that has become highly toxic nowadays. We live in a world where productivity has become extremely toxic, and people obsess over apps, tools, and strategies that will make them more productive; however, this approach often makes people feel burnt out and stressed out. But Austin believes the key to being productive is finding the balance between effort and rest.

In this video, he discusses the important role that rest plays to being productive in life and the folowing six strategies he uses in his own life to be more productive by embracing rest.

  1. Give Yourself Permission To Rest. In our society, rest is often seen as a sign of weakness which makes people overwork themselves; however, rest plays an extremely important role in being productive.
  2. Begin The First Hour Of The Day With t0 Stimulation. The mind is a canvas and the only thing that can clear the canvas is rest; however, Austin believes that when you wake up and immediately start doing stimulating tasks, you have tainted the canvas.
  3. Find The Activities That Clear Your Mind. Rest is not about sitting on the couch doing nothing, but it is about doing activities that clear your mind.
  4. Establish Boundaries On Yourself. As technology becomes more a part of our lives, it is becoming more important to establish boundaries on yourself to make sure you are not working all the time.
  5. Embrace Days Of Rest. No human being can work seven days in a row without going crazy. We all need days of rest where we focus on clearing our minds and not accomplishing tasks.
  6. Simply Find The Balance Of Effort And Rest. Productivity is a balance of effort and rest. We often put an extreme amount of focus on effort; however, this just leads to burnout. It is important to see the important role that rest plays in order to achieve productivity and make sure you are giving yourself the much needed rest in order to maximize productivity.

How I Stay Productive In The Age Of Toxic Productivity

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The Toxicity of Productivity

Austin admits that even he has fallen victim to the toxic mindset of constantly striving for maximum productivity. So have I, too! In today’s modern society, the pressure to be productive has reached new heights, leading to burnout and stress. It seems like we are always seeking out new apps, tools, and strategies to squeeze every last bit of productivity out of our days. But here’s the thing – this obsession with productivity is doing more harm than good.

Productivity in modern society

Productivity has become the ultimate measure of success in our society. We are constantly bombarded with messages and images of successful people who seem to be juggling a million tasks effortlessly. We are made to believe that if we’re not constantly working, we’re falling behind. The result? Austin argues that we push ourselves to the brink of exhaustion, sacrificing our mental and physical well-being in the process.

The consequences of toxic productivity

The consequences of toxic productivity are far-reaching. Burnout, stress, and anxiety have become all too common in today’s fast-paced world. We are constantly on the go, always striving to do more, be more, achieve more. But at what cost? Our health, our relationships, and even our sense of self often suffer as a result of this never-ending pursuit of productivity.

The need for balance between rest and being productive

But it doesn’t have to be this way, according to Austin. The key to being truly productive lies in finding a balance between effort and rest. We need to recognize that rest is just as important as work. Taking breaks, setting boundaries, and allowing ourselves time to recharge is essential for our overall well-being and productivity.

The Importance of Rest

Rest often gets a bad rap. It’s seen as lazy or unproductive. But the truth is, rest is crucial for our mental and physical health. It is during times of rest that our minds and bodies have a chance to rejuvenate and recharge. Here’s why rest should be at the top of our priority list.

Clearing the mind – A strong foundatiuon for being productive

When we take the time to rest, we give our minds a chance to clear the clutter. Our mental canvas becomes blank, allowing us to approach tasks with a fresh perspective. Rest helps us gain clarity, make better decisions, and think more creatively.

Reducing stress – A migioc formula for being productive

Stress has become a constant companion in our fast-paced lives. But rest acts as a powerful antidote to stress. It helps lower our cortisol levels and activates the relaxation response in our bodies, leading to reduced stress and anxiety. By taking regular breaks and prioritizing rest, we can keep stress levels in check and maintain a healthier balance.

Boosting creativity

Austin asks: Have you ever noticed how your best ideas seem to come to you when you’re not actively thinking about them? That’s because rest is essential for fostering creativity. When our minds are at rest, our brains engage in what is called the default mode network, which is responsible for creative thinking and problem-solving. So, if you’re feeling stuck or uninspired, take a break and let your mind wander. You might be surprised by the creative solutions that come to you.

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Healing the body

Rest is not just important for our minds; it’s crucial for our bodies as well. During periods of rest, our bodies have a chance to repair and recharge. Sleep, in particular, plays a vital role in repairing cellular damage, boosting our immune system, and improving overall physical health. By prioritizing rest, we give our bodies the time they need to heal and recover.

Starting the Day Right

The way we start our day sets the tone for the rest of it. By incorporating certain habits into our morning routine, we can set ourselves up for a productive and balanced day ahead.

Minimal stimulation

The first hour of the day is crucial for setting the stage. Instead of immersing ourselves in the noise and stimulation of emails, social media, or work tasks, it’s important to start the day with minimal stimulation. This means resisting the urge to check our phones or dive straight into work. By giving our minds time to wake up slowly and gently, we can approach the day with a clearer and more focused mindset.

Waking up the mind

Just like a muscle that needs to be warmed up before a workout, our minds need a gentle wake-up call in the morning. Instead of bombarding ourselves with stimulating tasks, we can start the day by engaging in simple, low-stress activities. This could be anything from stretching, journaling, or sipping a cup of tea. I wish to agree with Austin that by easing into the day, we allow our minds to gradually shift into a more focused and productive state. And on journaling, you may probably consider checking out on Amazon my daily journal that will give you 365 days of journaling, idea expression, daily goal-setting, with inspiration from motivational quotes.

Enhancing productivity

By starting the day right with minimal stimulation and gentle wake-up activities, we can enhance our overall productivity. Austin says our minds will be more focused, our creativity will flow more freely, and our ability to tackle tasks will be heightened. It’s all about setting the stage for success and finding a balance between jump-starting our minds and giving them the space they need to fully wake up.

Clearing the Mind

As we go about our busy lives, our minds and workspace can quickly become filled with clutter and noise. Taking the time to clear our minds is essential for maintaining balance and finding clarity. Accordiong to Austin, here are some ways to give your mind the reset it needs.

Spending time in nature

There’s something magical about spending time in nature. Whether it’s a walk in the park, a hike in the mountains, or simply sitting by a lake, being in nature has a way of calming the mind and bringing us back to the present moment. The sights, sounds, and smells of the natural world can help us let go of our worries and clear our mental canvas.

Engaging in mind-clearing activities

In addition to nature, there are plenty of other activities that can help clear the mind. Meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, or even just taking a few moments to sit in silence can work wonders for reducing mental clutter. Find what works for you and make it a regular part of your routine. The more often you engage in mind-clearing activities, the more easily you’ll be able to let go of stress and find mental clarity.

Setting Boundaries

In today’s hyper-connected world, it’s becoming increasingly important to set boundaries on ourselves. Constant notifications, emails, and work tasks can easily blur the lines between work and personal life, leading to burnout and an inability to truly rest. Austin justofies why setting boundaries is crucial for our well-being, as follows:

Turning off alerts

One of the biggest distractions in our lives is the constant stream of alerts coming from our phones and computers. By turning off unnecessary notifications and setting specific times to check emails or messages, we can regain control over our attention and focus. This allows us to be more present in the moment and avoid the constant pull of digital noise.

Not working after hours

In the era of remote work and flexible schedules, it can be tempting to work around the clock. But working after hours not only blurs the boundaries between work and personal life, but it also robs us of much-needed rest and recovery time. By setting a clear end to our workday and prioritizing personal time, we can give ourselves the space to recharge and be more productive during work hours.

Prioritizing rest

Setting boundaries is ultimately about prioritizing rest. It’s about recognizing that rest is not a luxury or a sign of laziness, but a vital component of sustainable productivity. By establishing clear boundaries on ourselves and creating a healthy work-life balance, we can ensure that rest becomes an integral part of our daily lives that leads us tob being productive.

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Taking Regular Days of Rest

While setting boundaries and prioritizing rest on a daily basis is important, it’s equally important to take regular days of rest. These are days where no tasks are accomplished, and the focus is solely on resetting the mind and body. Austin explins why regular days of rest are essential.

Maintaining focus makes us productive

Have you ever noticed that when you’re constantly pushing yourself to work, your focus starts to wane? Taking regular days of rest allows your mind to reset and recharge, making it easier to maintain focus and productivity in the long run. It’s like taking a step back to gain a fresh perspective and ensure that your efforts are aligned with your goals.

Preserving productivity at teh expense opf rest

Paradoxically, taking regular days of rest can actually enhance your overall productivity. By allowing yourself time to disconnect from work and recharge, you return to your tasks with renewed energy and clarity. Regular rest days can help prevent burnout, boost creativity, and increase your overall effectiveness in the long run.

The Balance of Effort and Rest

When it comes to productivity, it’s all about finding the right balance between effort and rest. While effort is important for achieving tasks and goals, rest plays an equally vital role. Here’s why the balance between effort and rest is crucial for sustained productivity.

Achieving productivity

In our obsession with effort and constant busyness, we often overlook the fact that true productivity comes from the balance of effort and rest. It’s about working smarter, not just harder. When we give ourselves time to rest and recharge, we come back to our tasks with a fresh perspective, increased focus, and improved problem-solving skills. The result? More efficient and effective work.

Avoiding burnout and stress

Constantly pushing ourselves to work without taking the necessary time to rest inevitably leads to burnout and stress. Burnout is a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion caused by prolonged stress and overwork. It can have serious consequences on our well-being, productivity, and overall quality of life. By finding the balance between effort and rest, we can avoid burnout and create a sustainable approach to productivity.

The Obsession with Productivity

In today’s society, productivity has become nothing short of an obsession. We measure our worth by how much we can accomplish in a day, and the pressure to constantly be doing more is overwhelming. But this toxic obsession with productivity is taking a toll on our well-being. Here’s why we need to reevaluate our mindset.

Toxic obsession in society against rest

Our society places a disproportionate amount of value on productivity. We glorify those who can work long hours, juggle multiple projects, and sacrifice their personal lives in the name of of being productive. But this obsession is ultimately doing more harm than good. It’s creating a culture of burnout, stress, and unhappiness.

Negative effects on well-being

Constantly striving for productivity at the expense of our well-being is a recipe for disaster. It leads to chronic stress, anxiety, and a never-ending sense of dissatisfaction. Our mental and physical health suffer, and we lose sight of what truly matters in life. It’s time to recognize that productivity is not the be-all and end-all. We need to prioritize our well-being and find a healthier balance.

Neglecting Rest

In our quest for productivity, we often neglect the very thing that is crucial for sustaining it – rest. We become so focused on effort and output that we forget to prioritize the rest and rejuvenation our minds and bodies desperately need. Here’s why neglecting rest is a recipe for disaster.

Excessive focus on effort

Our society places an excessive amount of focus on effort. We are praised for working long hours, sacrificing sleep, and pushing ourselves to the limit in the name of productivity. But this relentless focus on effort leads to burnout, decreased creativity, and a lack of overall effectiveness. Without rest, our efforts become futile and our productivity suffers.

Ignoring the need for rest

Rest is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. When we neglect rest, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to recharge, reset, and recover. Our bodies and minds become depleted, and our productivity takes a nosedive. It’s like trying to run a marathon without ever stopping to catch your breath – it’s simply not sustainable ad productive.

Consequences for productivity without enough rest

The consequences of neglecting rest are far-reaching. Without proper rest, our mental clarity and focus deteriorate. We become more prone to stress, burnout, and a decreased ability to think creatively. Our overall productivity suffers, and we find ourselves caught in a vicious cycle of working harder and accomplishing less.


In conclusion, it’s time for us to recognize the toxicity of productivity and embrace the importance of rest in our lives. Rest is not a sign of weakness; it is a vital component of sustainable productivity. By giving ourselves permission to rest, starting the day right, setting boundaries, and taking regular rest days, we can achieve a better balance between effort and rest. It’s time to let go of the obsession with productivity and embrace the rest we need for our overall well-being and sustained productivity. So, give yourself permission to rest, clear your mind, and find the balance that works for you. Your productivity and well-being will thank you.

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In the age of toxic productivity, I have noticed how harmful it can be to constantly strive for productivity without considering the negative effects it can have on our well-being. That’s why Austin  shares a more balanced approach to staying productive. If you would like to support Austin’s YouTube channel, you can do so by visiting this link: Buy Me A Coffee. For bringing this resource to you, you may wish to also buy a coffee, too, here 🙂

Now, let me recap the strategies that Austin implements in his own life to stay productive while embracing rest:

  1. Give Yourself Permission To Rest: In a society that often equates rest with weakness, it’s essential to recognize the benefits of rest. Rest clears the mind, reduces stress, boosts creativity, and promotes physical healing. By giving ourselves permission to rest, we can maintain productivity in a healthier way.
  2. Begin The First Hour Of The Day With 0 Stimulation: To start the day on a productive note, I believe it’s crucial to avoid immediate stimulation. When we jump into stimulating tasks right after waking up, our minds remain in a state of heightened alertness, hindering our overall productivity. Taking the first hour of the day for slower, simpler tasks allows our minds to gradually wake up and sets a positive tone for the rest of the day.
  3. Find The Activities That Clear Your Mind: Rest doesn’t necessarily mean doing nothing. Engaging in activities that clear our minds is key. Personally, I find solace in nature, as it helps me declutter my mind. Discover what activities have a similar effect for you and prioritize them when your mental canvas feels overwhelmed.
  4. Establish Boundaries On Yourself: As technology increasingly infiltrates our lives, it’s crucial to establish boundaries to prevent constant work. Turning off phone alerts, avoiding work after hours, and being unavailable on weekends are all ways to create space for mental clarity, which ultimately enhances productivity.
  5. Embrace Days Of Rest: It’s unrealistic to expect ourselves to work tirelessly without any time off. We all need days of rest to clear our minds and rejuvenate. Personally, I have found that giving myself 1 to 2 days of rest significantly improves my focus and overall productivity. Embrace and prioritize these days to optimize your performance.
  6. Simply Find The Balance Of Effort And Rest: Productivity is not solely about effort; it also encompasses the essential role of rest. By recognizing the importance of rest and striking a balance between effort and rest, we can achieve true productivity without succumbing to burnout.

In Autin’s journey towards finding a healthier approach to productivity, he has come across some valuable resources that he would like to share with us, as follows (Please note that the links shared below are affiliate links, meaning if you choose to make a purchase, he will receive a commission at no additional cost to you):

  • The Dawn of Everything: This book has provided me with a new perspective on how we can redefine productivity and find a more fulfilling way of living.
  • Who Moved My Cheese: This insightful book has helped me navigate through change and adapt to new circumstances, which is crucial in maintaining productivity.
  • Outlier: The Story of Success: This book explores the factors that contribute to success, debunking the myth of overnight achievements and emphasizing the importance of perseverance and rest.

In addition to the resources, I, too, would like to recommend the folowing books

  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen Covey
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  • Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
  • Purchase Link:
  • Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
  • Purchase Link:
  • Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
  • Purchase Link:
  • How to be a Productivity Ninja: Worry Less, Achieve More and Love What You Do by Graham Allcott
  • Purchase Link:
  • Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland
  • Purchase Link:

The purxchase links above are also affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make purchase, I’ll receive a small commission.** Rest assured that the affiliate relationship does not influence my opinion, and I only endorse programmes, products, or services that I have personally used or am familiar with. By using my links to support me, you are enabling me to continue creating content like this. So a huge thanks to you.

Check Out My Journal and Planner

📚 Finally, you may also consider purchasing on Amazon my daily journal that gives you 365 days of journaling, idea expression, daily goal-setting, with inspiration from motivational quotes as well as a monthly & weekly planner, which is an undated dairy notebook with monthly to-do lists to supercharge your productivity all year long. Check out my Amazon store here!

George Mwika Kayange

George Mwika Kayange is an International Development Professional and Project Management Specialist with over 20 years of experience working with various national, regional, and international NGOs. He is also a Commonwealth PhD Scholar at Loughborough University, London.