In this weird time, I keep seeing articles claiming to boost people’s productivity. “15 steps to boost productivity during quarantine” and other ridiculous articles are on the rise since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but you get the point. Hustle culture is everywhere.
While these posts may have the best intentions at heart, they can be super damaging to the self-esteem. You feel like something’s wrong with you because you’re not doing enough. But why should we feel bad for not always performing at 100%? Because we are humans. We have flaws!
What you’ve been seeing online is this “hustle culture” or, as I like to call it, toxic productivity. This means that we live in a society that gives us our worth based on how hard you work, and how much you contribute. Capitalism, am I right?
Society acts like being a machine is a good thing. People describe us with words like efficient, innovative, and productive. The thing is, we’re not bolts and pieces. We have complex emotions, especially during this pandemic. We have needs to fulfill! Hustle culture is toxic, overrated and is hurting us. One of these needs is to relax and to make sure that our mental health is okay.
The Bad News: Hustle Culture Causes Burnouts
I hate to break it to you, but you can’t be working at full capacity when your battery, aka your mental health, is less than optimal. In fact, pushing yourself drains you even more, leading you to burn out. You’re not a machine!
There needs to be a balance. Being on either end of the spectrum, either working too hard or avoiding work, is bad on oneself. On one hand, you have your eventual burnout. On the other, you feel guilty that you’re not being productive enough.
It can really hard to find that balance, especially in a society where your value is based a lot on how much you get done and how much you contribute. I’ve got news for you: no matter how much you get done, you’ll always be jealous of the person who does a little bit more, or the person lounging around enjoying doing nothing. So what are you to do?
Examples of Toxic Productivity (or Hustle Culture)
You might be telling yourself that you’re like most people. “I don’t do too much!” you say to yourself.
It’s hard to judge ourselves based on how much work other people put in. Here’s a checklist of examples of hustle culture, and how it might slowly enter your own life:
Missing out on sleep because you need to do more work?
Skipping breakfast or skip a meal because there are more important things to do?
Answering phone calls and emails even after work hours?
Feeling guilty when you’re just sitting there doing nothing?
If you said yes to the majority of the points on this list, don’t feel bad! You can absolutely work on this and set a new limit on how much time you spend working every day.
Is this a quick transformation? Sorry, but no. Old habits die hard, so taking a bit more time off might feel horrible the first few times you relax. That’s why I’m here!
How to Avoid Burnout: Ignore What You’ve Been Told
This first step is probably the hardest. You’ve spent your entire life in this hustle culture. If you’re like me, you can’t sit still! So, I have a bit of advice: moderation.
If you’re the type to make lists, put relaxation on your list! Your reward at the end of doing your work can be to enjoy a good cup of coffee while listening to the birds outside.
Guess what: relaxing is productive! Relaxing actually improves your mental state, centering you and giving you those warm fuzzies. So get behind the idea of being zen for a bit, because you’re getting work done!
If lists aren’t your thing and you need to keep your hands busy all the time, relax while getting something done! Here’s a video of self-care ideas you can do during the pandemic, because times are tough!
You can do this by choosing an activity that isn’t physically and mentally draining. This could be a puzzle, a craft, getting back to people on Instagram or having a chat with someone. Moderation is key, especially when you’re used to going at full speed all day.
What If I’m Never Doing Enough?
If you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum, you may be thinking: LOL, doing too much is definitely not me. And that’s okay! You may be suffering from depression, where the acts of getting out of bed and taking a shower are hard.
The number one thing that needs to be said is to not feel guilty. Easier said than done, right?
Take baby steps, because starting things is intimidating when you have a list of things you know you need to do. Congratulate yourself for little things, like making your bed or doing your laundry.
It doesn’t matter if you’re not doing as much as the next person, but as long as you’re trying to improve, that’s all that matters.
A Product of Our Society
The world we live in makes it really hard for us to feel like we’re on top. On social media, we see vacation posts, luxury items, or the amazing things that people accomplish. We value people’s accomplishments rather than their actual qualities, like kindness, perseverance or sense of humour.
I get it – it’s really hard to win with contradicting messages being thrown at us from all over the place.
With this hustle culture, we make money if we continuously work hard. In theory, the harder you work, the more money you get, and the more rewarded you will feel.
Sadly, this is not really the case. Burnouts run rampant, and we feel more and more dissatisfied with our lives because we aren’t reaping the rewards we think we deserve.
So what’s the key to all of this? Listen to your body and your brain. If you had planned to garden today but you woke up feeling drained, take the day to heal because it can wait. You only have so much battery power – use it in moderation.
Where are you on the productivity spectrum? Let me know in the comments!