Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Life > Experiences

Optimizing Everything: The Enemy or the Solution?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

From the moment we wake up to bedtime, we are always sharing our attention between multiple tasks. Should the 24 hours in a day be useful to achieve success, or are we just feeding into some toxic productivity?


You can listen to a podcast about finance at the gym, and in some weeks you’ll be an expert at it. If you prefer literature, try reading a self-help book on your way home and improve yourself daily. While cooking dinner, you should turn off that stupid comedy show and make better use of your time by watching TED Talks! Why allow your mind any kind of rest if there is always a different way to optimize your time around the corner, right?

Well, apart from my obvious irony, I do understand the human need to make ourselves functional all the time, given that we live in a capitalist system that demands efficiency above everything. Especially because, inserted in capitalism logic , our spare time is much more valuable if we are learning how to improve our professional careers than watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

Being productive is now a goal, but overwhelming yourself is also the key to burnout. Since the birth of the internet, we have had all the means to achieve any kind of knowledge, information, and entertainment from wherever and whenever we want.

However, you could be asking yourself why would that be a problem.  If it benefits our work performance, surely it will automatically improve our minds and skills as well. Therefore, the better we are, the more money we’ll make, and the quality of our lives will only improve. There is no disagreeing with that! The only part you are leaving out of the picture is the price you’ll have to pay for sacrificing your rest. Your free time is not just ornamental. I guarantee that if employers noticed that we could work effectively 24\7 nonstop, there wouldn’t be any free time at all by now. The thing is, even those who want to explore your workforce the most know that you need to rest in order to be productive.  Additionally, there is only one outcome of this scenario: Burnout working class who are never living 100% at the moment.


“What is it and why is everyone using this word now? Is it the new word of the year?” Well, I don’t know about the word, but I am sure that it is the illness of the 21st century.

 “Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”

__ World Health Organization

Basically, it’s when you’ve reached your limits, but not in an “academic weapon” aesthetic way, but instead, in a “My eyelids are twitching due to the amount of stress I’ve been through” way.

Burnouts are powered by the obvious extreme exhaustion, but also by the anxiety thought that we could always be doing better than we are now. 

For example:

  • “I am studying hard right now, but if I pull an all-nighter I’ll ace this test.”
  • “I already stayed until late at the office today, but I should finish my boss’s demands at home. He’ll notice how compromised I am.”

Notice how easily we are bound to sacrifice our rest in order to optimize every spare time there is? Whereas, how often are we willing to postpone a deadline just to give ourselves a break? Being productive and trying to overcome yourself is not the problem. What creates a dangerous scenario is putting your own health on hold to do so. 

“Everything Everywhere all at once”

The additional outcome of always trying to optimize your time is not being mindful of your daily routine. We are always listening to music, watching a series, reading an article, playing some game, messaging someone…

It has become so natural to be occupied all the time that the silence and boredom of doing nothing have become strange. It is so unsettling to be unoccupied that sometimes you’ll pull out your phone just out of habit, with no actual purpose or meaning. 

Have you ever tried to make the route from home to work without touching your phone?

No music.

No podcast.

No audiobook.

No online chatting.

Seems impossible, right? Well, for me it surely does.  Some reasons would explain this need to be always doing something:

The first one would be the fact that we are all addicted to the stimulation of dopamine. Since the invention of the internet and social media, our brains have been used to the worrying amount of content we consume. Secondly, there is the pressure of meritocracy created by capitalism to always be doing better, improving yourself, and, as a consequence, optimizing your time with meaningful activities. The idea is: if you want to enrich this system, all you must do is work yourself to exhaustion and use your spare time to become better than others around you.

Last but not least, the social anxiety to fit into the crowd and never look lonely makes us pull out our phones and pretend there is an amazing world in there keeping us company. There is this need to pretend that you are so occupied with your phone because you’re a very requested person.

If not the tiredness of neglecting your rest, the upcoming fear of letting your life slip through your fingers will eventually make you realize that optimizing everything is your personal enemy.


The article below was edited by Bruna Blanco.

Liked this type of content? Check out Her Campus Cásper Líbero for more!

My name is Nicole Dominguez, I am a 19-year-old Brazilian student. Currently, I am enrolled at the university Casper Libero and majoring in Journalism. My main interests are literature, politics, fashion, social media, cinema, and all kinds of music, especially Latin American artists.