Living With Intention

3 Downsides Of “Positive” Productivity Content That No One Talks About

By Monday, September 27, 2021

In 2020 and 2021 I got really into Youtube vlogs. As I discovered a lot of new content creators, I found that vlogs or “lifestyle content” quickly became the go-to content for youtubers. These self-proclaimed lifestyle vloggers have been pushing a lot of content surrounding productivity and routines. 

Some of my absolute favorite youtubers, or at least my most watched youtubers, began to post videos with titles such as “A Productive Day in My Life”, “Get Ready with Me for A Productive Day as Influencer”, “Productive Nighttime (or Morning) Routine”, “How I Stay Productive Working from Home”, and the list incessantly goes on. Naturally, I was inclined to click on these videos for inspiration and motivation. These videos are always aesthetically pleasing with intentional placement and preparation. Before I knew it I was sucked into a video and completely invested in the speaker and their tips.

How the content makes you feel

After one video I truly felt a new sense of motivation to step up my game so to speak. But then there’s another video, and another video after that one. Quickly, the self loathing feelings set in and I began to become angry and frustrated with myself for not being as successful or productive as someone I’d never met. You’d think the more frustrated I became with myself for my lack of action that I would be compelled to make a change but that is not the case. Instead, a sense of exhaustion often follows. Now, laying in bed, the realization that every single second of my day needs to be overhauled has left me feeling utterly defeated. There’s no way I can make all of those changes overnight so I might as well avoid making any of them! This overload hits especially hard for a serial perfectionist such as myself.

This is not much different from what we are told about the illusion of social media as a whole. We as the audience cannot see the “downtime”, figuratively or literally. Small clips are pieced together to show the most ideal use of time. Furthermore, my daily schedule could never realistically mirror that of a self-employed influencer no matter how hard I tried. Between working a full time job and being a full time graduate student it should be impressive that I set aside time daily to watch youtube videos at all! In addition to feeling lazy in comparison, I also began to question my career and academic journey – wondering if I was really as successful as I previously thought. I considered trading a respectable job title for a position that would allow me to have more free time in order to feel more like a “boss.”

Productivity comes at a cost

Not only are the logistics unattainable for a lot of us regarding the amount of free time we have but the tools and resources are usually unattainable as well. More often than not, at some point during the seemingly effortless routine products, services, and other resources will be mentioned and promoted. This could be as simple as mentioning a planner that helps with organization or as intricate as linking 20 amazon items that are strategically placed throughout the video. Then, rather than applying the tips and habits I found myself clicking on every link in the description and contemplating buying all kinds of products that I otherwise never would have thought I needed. 

Producing productivity isn’t easy

This content can also be very meta. As a viewer, I had to remember that whoever I happened to be watching had to sit down and plan out this video before they filmed it. In order to produce the content, they first had to strategize how, when, where, and what they were going to film. It was then edited in a way that made the most sense structurally. And lastly, I often have to remind myself that most, but not all, of the influencers creating this content are getting paid to do so. At the end of the day, it is the job of said influencer to create and publish content that will be consumed in order for them to earn a living. Once I began to look at these videos through that lens I was able to make the decision to either enjoy the videos from a creative perspective and admire the work put into them or opt out of watching the videos altogether. In the present day, I typically make this decision on a case by case basis. Consuming all of this content has ironically made me less productive and left me unsure of where to even begin. Eventually, there is so much content to consume and not enough time to process said content or actually apply it to your life.

Cierra is a self-published poet and freelance writer with a passion for mental health and self-help. When she is not writing you can find her watching horror movies or attending any and every concert in the Washington, D.C. area. 

Image via Unsplash

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