My Recovery From Toxic Productivity

Tansy Bradshaw
4 min readJun 17, 2023

As we approach the middle of 2023, a milestone for me is coming up, one year since I chose to get out of the toxic productivity mindset. During the span of 2020 till mid last year, I was constantly trying to find the next best system that would change my life. Spoiler alert, it didn’t.

Photo by Andreas Klassen on Unsplash

It started small with watching Thomas Frank and Ali Abdaal. They looked at apps that were new and worked with networked thinking. I started with Notion in the early days. I threw everything into it. Then when they started with Obsidian — I jumped to that.

Now, I did stay with Obsidian for a while. This is where I first set up my zettelkasten and tried to make it the best thing ever. My toxic productivity turned its focus onto how I could make the best notes. I watched so many videos that showed so many different setups. I have lost count of how many times I un-synced and re-synced Readwise.

My thoughts started to change when I had the lightbulb moment that I realised I had built my expectations of my productivity, on the understanding that I was a able-bodied person. The problem with that is that I am not able-bodied. I have a disability that impacts my physical and emotional levels of energy that I have. I came to the realisation that toxic productivity highlights ableism.

Most of the productivity gurus, eg: Ali Abdaal focus on making your time more productive so it frees up more time to be productive. What Ali doesn’t take into account is that not everyone can physically be as productive as they want to be. Having a disability that effects your energy levels will greatly influence how productive you can be day-to-day. Saying that if you aren’t doing everything you can to be 100% productive all the time — than you are not doing enough. We all need to sleep and we all need time to relax. By not considering that not everyone in the world is a straight-abled bodied male is highlighting the ableist undertones, no matter how unintentional it is.

This idea came from the YouTube video, Ali Abdaal — The King of Toxic Productivity and it struck a cord.

I was enjoying Logseq, and found that it suited my needs. However, the lure of Obsidian and all the new plugins was hard to resist. I have managed to stay in Logseq, and have only recently started using Obsidian…

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Tansy Bradshaw

Murderino. Cat Lady. I write about stuff that interests me. She/Her and They/Them