Is Your Productivity just a Defence Mechanism?

Recently, I read an article about how we give more importance to productivity as compared to being present. Well, it got me thinking about the numerous people I know, who chose to be busy every single day as taking a rest actually makes them restless. I am not gonna deny the fact that I have used the same technique more than once. I make myself so busy sometimes that I don’t have to worry about my mental health and just be at peace. The problem is that this technique is flawed, productivity at the cost of being present is just a mere defence mechanism.


Is Your Productivity just a Defence Mechanism?


How We Use Productivity to Numb Our Emotions?


Humans have tons of feelings and in this modern-day competitive world, these emotions just keep on growing. No matter who you are or what you do, you can never be fully immune to your own emotions. Most people, including myself, don’t like to feel things, which often leads to sadness and anxiety. Hence, they use different defence mechanisms to prevent themselves from feeling this way. This includes a wide variety of techniques, Freud has proposed a variety of defence mechanisms used by people. The list includes compensation, denial, displacement, identification, introjection, projection, reaction formation, rationalization, regression, repression, ritual & undoing, and sublimation


These defence mechanisms serve the purpose of getting your mind off from the problem at hand. Which is the same purpose that productivity serves for most of us. I am not in any way implying that productivity is bad, getting things done is truly rewarding. It is the intention behind the need to be productive that matters, are you being productive to enrich yourself or just to escape uncomfortable situations?


When you use productivity to stop your mind from thinking about something, you can actually call it displacement. The defence mechanism where you “cope with acute anxiety by transferring emotions about a stressor onto other objects or activities that are less psychologically threatening”. It is the same as eating your feelings, you are working your feelings off and not dealing with them. Though it might feel like a great solution as not only are you escaping anxiety but also making a fortune out of it, it is not that great. The reason behind it is simple when you don’t deal with your problems, you make them bigger.



Is Your Productivity just a Defence Mechanism?


What Happens When We Use Productivity to Pacify Our Emotions?


In the short run, it seems like a great technique. You don’t lose anything and gain a lot, but it can backfire in the long run. There are several factors behind the same:

  • The fact that you might not realise whether you like your work or not when you are just using it as an escape. This could lead to you hating your job shortly. So, it can pave your way to a mid-life crisis.

  • Another could be that you overwork yourself onto the point of physical ailment.

  • Some people also experience high levels of anxiety when they are not busy. This means they lose the ability to be present. Which is the root cause of a lot of Mental Health related issues.

  • The need to be productive all the time can hamper your relationships.

  • You become more likely to use similar behaviour for other emotions like anger, like displacing your anger with your gf/bf onto your family members.

  • You don’t spare time for your hobbies and activities you enjoy as you get too involved in your work.

  • Most importantly, you are not dealing with emotions and their triggers that could be fatal.


These are just some of the cons of using productivity as an escape, there are more but let’s not get into that and instead focus on how you can avoid this situation altogether.


How to Not Be Too Productive?


Is Your Productivity just a Defence Mechanism?


The heading seems like something you would never wanna know, but still, you might need to know this. Productivity at the cost of living our life fully isn’t worth it and here is how you can avoid it.

  • Spare time for things you like no matter how busy you think you are.

  • Don’t start working as soon as you get uncomfortable, instead think about it and try to find out why it is bothering you. If you can’t do it alone, talk to your friend or partner about it. Just don’t ignore it at any cost!

  • If you think work has destroyed your social life, find work-life balance by reconnecting with close friends and communicating at your workplace about delegating.

  • Find an activity that you love and work towards it, instead of making yourself miserable at a job you don’t enjoy.

  • Don’t be afraid to take time off, your work will be there when you come back but if you don’t learn to be present you will lose yourself.


If I wasn’t able to change your mind, then just keep the link to this article safe somewhere. I am sure you will need it later.