What Happens When Productivity Meets Mental Illness?

More and more people nowadays struggle with poor mental health. This is an unfortunate outcome of the stressful nature of modern life. And what many of us don’t realize is that, when you suffer from disorders of the mind, it might reflect negatively on the quality and quality of your work. But how and why does mental illness affect employee productivity? Let’s find out.

Motivation and Mental Illness

Several studies in the past have uncovered that employees who struggle with mental illnesses, and particularly with depression, take more sick days than those who aren’t in this situation. The underlying cause behind this is obvious. When you’re unwell, you feel less motivated to face your daily responsibilities and complete tasks.

This happens in the case of physical diseases as well, so when the one you’re struggling with affects your mind, the situation is even more serious. All in all, it’s hard to be productive when your psyche isn’t up for it. Needless to say, pressuring yourself into doing things regardless leads to burnouts and even mental breakdowns, so avoid that at all costs.

How to Improve Your Productivity

Instead, try to regain your willingness to do your job organically. Take it slow, one day at a time. This is completely possible when you’re being patient with yourself. Still, you will need a bit of a push in the right direction. Here are five actionable steps that will help you remain productive even when you’re struggling with mental illness.

1.      Choose a Field You Enjoy

There is a clear connection between the conditions in which an activity is sustained and both absenteeism and presenteeism rates among workers who struggle with poor mental health. How much you like or dislike your job is an important aspect of this. Naturally, you will be far more motivated to show up and perform your tasks if you enjoy doing them in the first place.

Therefore, choosing a field you are passionate about is crucial. If you’re unsure of how to proceed in this direction, volunteering for a while to try out several occupations is a good idea. Nevertheless, while this can be truly fulfilling in many ways, you need to remember that most of it will be unpaid. So, if you choose to go down this road, keep that in mind.

But realistically speaking, not everyone can afford not working until they find their true vocation. Thus, feeling financially pressured to keep doing something that doesn’t make you happy turns into an additional stressor which can impact your mental health negatively. When that is the case, the best thing you can do is focus on the advantages of your current profession.

2.      Set Realistic Goals for Yourself

A recent study has shown that setting goals is effective in the treatment of mental illness. Most of the participants in the study were able to aptly identify what needed to be done and attain that objective. Thus, you shouldn’t be afraid of wanting to accomplish certain things. Your disorder isn’t as limiting as you might make it out to be.

However, it’s important to keep these goals realistic. Expecting too much of yourself and not being able to achieve can impact your self-esteem, which is something most patients already struggle with as is. Be honest with yourself. What skills do you possess? How long would it take you to finalize a task using them? Answer these questions truthfully.

3.      Focus on the Tasks at Hand

Now that your objectives are clearly outlined, it’s time to get to work on them. To be able to do this, you will need to focus. Nevertheless, people who suffer from disorders of the mind often have trouble with that. Understand that you might not always be able to concentrate and avoid pressuring yourself into it. Instead, let your motivation flow naturally into the situation.

4.      Declutter Your Workspace

Clutter is one of the main distractors all of us are faced with daily. And when your mental illness is already making it hard to concentrate on something, it can be even more aggravating. This is why staying

organized is essential if you want to pay better attention to what you’re doing. Cleaning out your desk is a simple initial step you can take in this direction.

But even if your space is neat and tidy, the office as a whole might still be a mess. If you’re finding that improper desk and supply arrangements are damaging your ability to do your job, you will need to take it up with your employer. Provided they are a sensible, understanding person, and you explain the situation candidly to them, some changes might get made.

5.      Don’t Let Failure Bring You Down

Given your current situation, it’s important to know that failure is an option. If and when it does happen, try not to let it bring you down. Even the most successful people today have their own stories of decline. So, instead of allowing it to lower self-esteem and destroy your confidence, use it as an opportunity to learn an important lesson about growth.

Final Thoughts

Staying motivated and productive while you battle anxiety, depression, or even schizophrenia is an achievable prospect. If you take it one day at a time and are realistic about your professional expectations, you are bound to achieve success sooner or later. The essential thing is to never stop trying your best.


Alex Moore is a psychology blogger entranced by the word “productive”. When he’s not nagging those around him with stories of positivity, you’ll usually find him writing for www.schizlife.com


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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