Performative Productivity (or Why I Post Boring To-Do Lists on Instagram)

Performative Productivity (or Why I Post Boring To-Do Lists on Instagram)

Work Brighter
April 23, 2020

For the past few weeks now, I’ve been posting my to-do list for the day on my personal Instagram stories. When I remember, at least.

Something simple and fun, right?

Hah! If only you lived in my brain (there’s lots of toys, pop music, and disco balls).

This decision was so fraught I literally spent session time talking to my therapist about it. 🤣

So what’s the big deal about a 10-second photo of the least personal page in my bullet journal, one that expires after 24 hours?

Well, I didn’t want to feed into Hustle Culture and do the opposite of what Work Brighter’s mission is.

Because here’s the thing:

I have MAJOR problems with performative productivity.

If I had to rank all the different characteristics or criteria of Hustle Culture (which I am working on doing in a big manifesto btw), performative productivity would probably be top 3.


A huge part of Hustle Culture is being defined by how much work you do, and therefore exaggerating and glorifying that.

Especially on social media.

I’m sure you’ve seen some #nosleep #hustle #grind content out there. Unfortunately the pandemic seems to have amped it up, not slowed it down. (More on that here and here)

And there’s a good chance that when you did, you felt a lil bit of pressure to work more. That’s happened to me, too.

The last thing I wanted to do is feed into that.

And social media to-do lists are a bit of a thing in Hustle Culture already…so much that The Washington Post has even written about the trend.

And I’m not a trend-hopper-on-er. I’m a do-what-I-want-er. 💁🏻‍♀️

But then I started thinking…those social media to-do lists are another opportunity for me to make a trend started by Hustle Culture and the cult of working smarter, a little bit brighter. 🌈

Because my own escape from Hustle Culture has changed what my to-do lists look like.

And I don’t think they’re the kind that’ll pressure anyone to work more.

Last week, “wash hair” showed up on my list twice, before being escalated “suck it up and wash your f*cking hair” after I kept putting it off (have you SEEN how much of it I have? It’s a lot of work, and an arm workout!).

Most days, “take nap” or “read [insert whatever I’m reading]” is on it.

And EVERY day, “take meds” is there, otherwise I won’t remember, and it’s priority #1.

My to-do list shows what productivity means to me, and how much more it includes than just work.


Everything I want to share with Work Brighter. So Imma keep at it (again, when I remember 🤷🏻‍♀️).