We need to stop glamorizing hustle culture.
Hustling in the right direction is great. But what if someone’s hustling just for the sake of it ?
Hustle culture is neither a new phenomenon nor a novel millennial trend. It’s always existed since the beginning of the industrial age. The difference between the earlier days and now is that hustle culture has gotten a huge shot in the arm from many modern day innovations that promote and even encourage it. Ride hailing, 24 x 7 food delivery services, grocery services, on-demand household services, and online shopping are just a few examples of innovations that promote and encourage hustle culture.
After all, why get up to take a break and make yourself a meal when an app can get it delivered to your doorstep in just a few clicks?
These apps have insidiously manged to blur the lines between the personal and the professional. The call of work no longer ends at the office, but extends to the home; following us straight into our living rooms, and even our bedrooms at times.
Laptops, tablets, mobile phones, and desktop computers enable us to continue working even after we’ve got back home when we should be mentally off at work, while being both mentally and physically present at home. We’re physically present here, but mentally somewhere else. Some looming deadline. Some office gossip, yada yada yada. Even though home offices aren’t novel, they have come back in vogue, what with the pandemic and all forcing companies to ask their employees to work from home quite indefinitely.
However, one must exercise caution while drawing boundaries between work and personal life, a line that seems to be getting thinner by the day.
No matter what we do, it seems that hustle culture is here to stay, what with an umpteen number of productivity apps popping up everyday, to offload menial or tedious tasks onto. People are constantly talking about how busy they are, whether its got to do with work or personal life. Everyone wants to feel important and recognized. This makes a lot of people want to work and look busy, when they could literally be picking up one of the umpteen number of hobbies out there, or relieving themselves of the weeks stresses with a swim and a massage.
Productivity tools not only allow the smart worker to offload important work tasks from their memory, but also help them in actively seeing those tasks to completion. Since we’re all well aware about the perils of hustle culture, lets talk about a few things that can be done to slow down and keep the hustling bustling parts of us right where they belong, without letting them collide with our sanity.
Even with all the caffeine, alcohol, late nights and junk food, inside each one of us lies a much more saner being, who just wants that clear cut separation between work and life so badly!
While we don’t aim to be idealists, there are a couple of steps we can take to shut down the workaholic in us:
- Stop being available all the time: Show absolutely no inclination towards working after, or out of office hours. This is the number one ‘personal time’ killer when it comes to after office hours. Make sure you follow a strict daily routine (where you have something fixed to do after work), which will ultimately help you in maintaining your sanity and in boosting your confidence in the long run. People also tend to have greater respect for someone who’s busy than someone who’s available all the time. It depends on the type of company and the kind of manager you have, but this is largely true.
- Tire out the body properly everyday: Following a daily exercise routine is a great way to keep your mind and body engaged outside of work. This way work won’t be the end-all, be-all of your life and you’ll have a personality outside of it too. Join a gym or a pool, make some friends there, and socialize everyday. Notice how I did not recommend solo sports such as running or cycling? That’s because it’s much easier to drop out of those when there’s no payment being made to keep you committed to them each and every single day. Also, there’s absolutely no social aspect involved, and so there’s no guilt felt when you skip days to watch TV or go out with friends.
- Learn when you’re free: When you’re sitting idle after completing your work for the day, you’ll be tempted to look at your phone, head to the pantry, or chat up a friend from the next aisle. Do not give into it. You do those things during your evening tea breaks anyways! Instead, learn as much as you can about current technology or information on your current line of work, something that will help you get that promotion faster. What are the tricks and ways to complete it in the shortest time possible? Watch videos, tutorials or read books pertaining to the same. If there is one in your office itself, why not make full use of it?
- Take time for yourself, everyday: No matter what your day looks like, it is imperative to take time off for just yourself each and every single day. Dedicate this time to only yourself and don’t let anyone interrupt this “me time”. Whether it is hitting the pool, going to the gym, enjoying a game of cricket, or just meditating, it is extremely important that you do not break this routine. This daily practice, over and over again, helps build a strong mental wall against all the problems life will throw at you. Whether it is personal, professional or family matters, you will always be ready to tackle the issue head on, with confidence. Indulging in a sport gives you the dual benefit of a “me time” + a physical activity is the best way you can make use of your evenings.
- Remove convenience apps from your phone: This includes anything from food and grocery delivery apps, to Amazon and Uber. All that these apps do is incentivize and fuel hustle culture! That’s it. Before you know it, you’d have already blown through your monthly spending budget continuously using these apps. You’ll not only end up spending more due to the convenience, but also have to work harder to keep up this new lifestyle. It’s a vicious cycle.
Instead, try to live like the old days. Walk to the bookstore. Take a bus ride. Go and get yourself some takeout. All these activities are therapeutic in nature, the opportunities for which we take away when we outsource them to someone else online. Take life slow and steady like the old days, and your FOMO will automatically vanish. Most importantly, stop rushing things. And stop trying to belong everywhere at the same time. You can’t focus on your career and social life at the same time. You’ll be split apart, just trying to juggle both together. There needs to be a delicate balance, which most high paying jobs don’t allow. So if social life really matters to you, take a job that allows you the time to socialize and have fun, even on the weekdays. And if career matters more, then make sure you at least get the weekends off to do other things that you love.
- Move closer to work: The last thing you want is arriving at work knackered and drained out craving for a cup of coffee to start yourself. You aren’t a car! Move as close to work as possible and do not listen to what others are trying to tell you. Preferably live so close that you can walk to work instead of having to resort to using a motorized vehicle. Those things inevitably end up burning your precious money, time, and energy just to get you back and forth from your workplace. The very place where you’re energy is most needed and required in order for you to succeed.
- Don’t depend on drugs to get through work: Do not depend on drugs like caffeine, or on the instant boost provided by energy drinks to get through work. They don’t provide you with all-day energy, which is very vital to office work (which is why you’re always yawning at meetings). Nor is it sustainable to drink them in the long run. If your job is creative in nature, it’s a different thing, but even then, it’s best to consume brain boosters like caffeine sparingly. Caffeine is not a problem per se. But it does turn into an issue when people start substituting it for sleep. There is no substitute to sleep other than sleep itself. Caffeine especially becomes a problem when people take it just to stay awake, something that their bodies would have naturally done had they just followed a proper sleep routine. Some people take it to the very extremes by consuming caffeine to stay awake and complete work during the night, which is quite unnatural for the human body. This creates a double whammy on the body, as it is neither able to complete the circadian rhythm, nor detox the caffeine from your system. After all, it is a neurotoxin, and must be expunged from the body. Many studies have already proven that it is not the caffeine that you get the energy rush from, but the bodies’ immune response to it. Hence, it is extremely imperative not to develop a dependency to such stimulants, and use them only sparingly when workloads are unbearably high.
- Do not rely on self-help or external motivation that only makes you feel good: No, I am not saying self-help is insidious or deceitful, rather what I’d like to talk about here is the business of self help, which is ‘Toxic Positivity’. It’s the kind that makes you feel good by just listening or watching what someone has to say about it, regardless of whether you’ve worked for it.
Like James Jani says in his very popular and viral video “The Toxic World of Self Help: Hustle Culture, Toxic Positivity, Addiction, and Fake Gurus” ,
“the self help industry relies on your feeling of inadequacy to pull you in and get hooked to their products.” “ A combination of you feeling inadequate and you getting a small high every time you consume self-help content turns you into an avid consumer of their products.”
These are some of the ways I’ve used and found helpful in developing my very own personality outside of work. I know how to draw lines and make it clear to employers that I’m not a monkey ready to dance to their tunes regardless of how much they’re paying me. I know how to show them I have a “life” outside of work. Hustle culture is just not my thing, and it might not be yours too. Do let us know in the comments how you switch off every single day and how you draw boundary lines between work and personal life.