Productivity Obsession within Students

Nikole Oberta talks students, productivity and burnout.

As the semester is coming to an end it also means that deadlines and exams are close approaching. Online school hasn’t been easy, for some it’s worsened their mental health making it hard to be productive.  A lot of us use social media during our breaks to relieve stress, whether it’s YouTube, Instagram or Tiktok. There has been an increase in study related content on these platforms that shows us how to be productive, but is this content actually doing more harm than good?


As we have been working from home due to the pandemic, we have had to adjust to a new working environment quickly. As students, we aspire to be as efficient and productive as we can, so a lot of students often look for these productivity videos online as a form of motivation. There is a lot of study related content online now ranging from ‘Morning Routines, “Day in a life’, ‘How to’ and ‘Study with me’ videos, however, there is a difference between positive productivity and toxic productivity.


‘Study with me’ videos are great since we are unable to go to libraries and study with others physically, there are now live streams and videos being created to allow people to virtually study with others. However, as more videos like these are being created, the hours of these videos also increase. On Youtube you can find videos that go from 12-hour study with me and even live streams which stream for 24 hours which gives an unrealistic idea that we should be working for long hours. Online we can see a lot of ‘Morning routine’ videos that show a hyperactive hustle culture such as ‘5AM morning routine’ showing waking up early, exercising, cold showers, reading all before 9AM making people believe that getting up early and working long hours is what is deemed as being successful and productive.

Photo: [Unsplash]
When we see these videos, we compare our own lifestyle, habits and study hours to theirs and we start to think that working hard and long is the norm and feel bad and even beat ourselves up because we didn’t wake up early and or work for more than 6 hours that day when those videos were unrealistic in the first place. We forget that these content creators create an idealised study day because that is what people are interested in seeing and therefore increases their views and profit from these videos, they are not real.


We see productivity content on almost every social media nowadays, when we go on social media to relax we are constantly being reminded that we could and should be working instead, which doesn’t allow people to feel relaxed and increases more stress.  It has created an obsession culture with productivity especially within students. Many of these creators don’t realise they are spreading toxic productivity, for example on TikTok we can see videos such as “This is your sign to start to wake up at/ studying at etc” to motivate people to switch their lifestyle, which can be motivating but only for a short time,  not realising that not everyone functions the same and is forcing down an idea that to truly be successful you need to be doing something every hour . What works for some people doesn’t work for others. For example, some people function better in the morning and some are more productive in the evening. It increases people’s feelings of guilt because they’re not following this ‘idealized’ working day routine that other people have created.


Many of these videos romanticise being constantly busy and don’t explain the effects of constantly working. We are made to believe that we have to constantly be busy, which in the long run disconnects us from our friends and family even more since we are still in a pandemic and overworking ourselves. We are never able to truly relax and destress which will lead to burn out.

Photo: [Unsplash]
Platforms like Youtube and TikTok are supposed to be a space to relax, but after watching videos related to studying you’ll be recommended more and more videos of study related content, which no longer provides the space to relax but, instead adds to one’s stress and pressure.


The standard of productivity we see online has become unattainable and it is important to recognise the difference between positive productivity and toxic productivity. It is also important not to compare ourselves to what we see online since everything online isn’t realistic anyways. We need to remember that taking a day off to rest is also productive. We require downtime in order to perform better. Your value as a person does not come from how much work you have done.  It is important to forgive yourself when you don’t match your own expectations and productivity. Do not to forget to celebrate the small successes and take one day at a time.



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