This is a useful term for “the intersection of burnout, imposter syndrome, and anxiety”.
Say you manage a coffee shop. In one day, you placed all the orders with your vendors, cleaned all the machines, launched a new promotional push, scheduled your employees’ shifts for the following month, and responded to every review and email. In this hypothetical scenario, you did great! You got all those tasks done and were attentive to your employees’ needs for time off and fair schedules. So why do you still feel like you didn’t do enough and you’re failing? Productivity dysmorphia.
Productivity dysmorphia can impact you outside of your job, too. Say you were aiming for a seven-day streak on your Peloton, but you were too tired or had too much work to do on that last day. You might feel like you are a failure for not working out that day, but that just isn’t true. You worked out the six days before that. Missing one goal doesn’t invalidate everything else you’ve done up until that point. We all get overwhelmed and overworked.
Try to reconsider what you think of as “productivity.” It’s productive to get all your work done, yes, and productive to work out or devote a certain amount of time every night to your side job or hobby. It’s also productive to rest. Relaxing and refreshing your mind and body will enable you to accomplish more in the near future without risking the dreaded burnout. Celebrate everything you do as a step toward productivity. Write down your rest periods, too. They count.