Hustle culture is something that everyone experiences at least at some point in their lives. Whether it involves deadlines set by our University, workplace or even ourselves, it has the tendency to get inadvertently toxic. From getting yourself to the right headspace to actually cramming in the short timeline you set, each minute of productivity gives you a dopamine boost which makes you thrive to ultimately reach that sweet short-lived state of satisfaction. However unique it may be to a person, it’s nice to recognise the different stages you face - just like the different stages of a breakup.
The stages of hustling that I needed to acknowledge:
It all starts when you finally realise that you really didn’t have to watch that YouTube video on “What pretending to be crazy looks like” or the one right after that talked about ketchup being the superior sauce. You then advance to the mind boggling planning stage where your vision is only limited to two steps, them being "start working" and "finish working". You tell yourself that you're going to work differently in this academic Term and also get on top of everything beforehand. This doesn't stop at assignment submissions or team meetings - you also want to set aside time for your hobbies and other things that keep you content along the way. Now, some people already have their timetable figured out but with lockdown inspiring my messed up sleep schedule, it's really a big step to break out of this non-routine routine.
You know you're driven when you see how the scrolling through memes on Reddit or Instagram changed from hours to minutes or when you wake up slightly earlier than before. You may not see significant changes but you still deserve a pat on the back for the small tweaks you make in your day. Minor adjustments like these help you channel your energy towards your ultimate goal. This is the part where I go ballistic with sticky notes, to-do lists, journaling and prioritising tasks.
3. Being Overwhelmed
What happens when you're not working according to the expectations that you set? What happens when you're falling behind the schedule? Those sticky notes probably helped for a while or perhaps you got bored of waking up to them. It's good to have your ideas and goals written down and introspect on your outlook on things but sometimes you just want to stop looking at everything on your plate. You end up in a confused spiral contemplating on lost time, stuck between the past and present, hence being unable to put any efficiency into your work. This is when I'm forced to compromise on events and start sensing the urge to cut back on things, hoping for a chance to dive right into the work zone.
Tears. Ice Cream. Netflix. Enough said.
I decided to keep the previous stage as brief as possible because that's how we're usually expected to keep it. Words couldn't really occupy the space that stage four actually takes up. For me, regret plays two parallel roles here. Primarily, I wouldn’t coin that absolutely necessary indulgence in Ben & Jerry's under 'regret' but I would definitely regret not giving a breakdown the importance it actually deserves. I won't try going all Pinterest on you but I do want to emphasise on the fact that you have to hit a low point if you truly want to appreciate happiness. You owe yourself that space even if it takes significant time out of your day.
There's a difference between lazing around and resting. Often, I would find myself interchanging the two for the sake of convenience. It’s ironic how I have the patience to wait for my phone to recharge but when it comes to dealing with myself, there's a conflict of interest. If I could travel back in time, I would tell myself to take it easy - there's only so much stress you can take. Nothing can replace the satisfaction of taking those few minutes out of your day to allow your body to recharge. In my world, there are two essential ways to rest - going on walks and listening to music. They both learned to complement each other as I learned to compliment myself. You see how all that fresh air got me positive there?
What's more satisfying than rest? It's noticing how your procrastination is slowly developing into productivity. The way I see it, resting really ended up benefiting my thought process and creativity. Apart from that, both my interest and attention span exponentially increased. At this point, you'll find me crawling back to stage one - giving myself a second attempt at the same task or perhaps, embarking on a new journey with a different task to conquer. Either way, I can say my mind's at peace.
It doesn’t feel right to talk about hustling and stop at stage seven. You'll keep hustling; I just hope you do it the healthy way!