Exploring The Harsh Reality Of Hustle Culture

Hello everyone, welcome or welcome back to my blog! Today, I wanted to write about a topic which, to me, has some sort of presence in everyone’s life – especially where we are now as a society. Hustle culture has been becoming much more prevalent over the last few years, particularly though the media, your friends etc. But there’s a harsh reality behind hustle culture which I want to explore today. Let’s jump into it!

  1. THE BEGINNINGS OF HUSTLE CULTURE
  2. WHAT’S BEEN A CATALYST FOR IT’S PREVALENCE?
  3. THE CONSEQUENCES OF HUSTLE CULTURE
  4. BREAKING DOWN THE TOXIC CYCLE

THE BEGINNINGS OF HUSTLE CULTURE

Hustle Culture has been around for longer than we could’ve thought of, but only recently has it been building back up again, especially amongst Gen Z – and people want to do something about it. Hustle Culture is exactly what it sounds like: always hustling. People who follow this culture pride themselves on living a work-focused life and always being on the grind, without any breaks or rest.

When you initially hear this, I’m sure some people would be impressed. On the surface, these people are working hard, they’re building their futures and dream lives. But, as people have examined this further, things may not be as picture-perfect as they seem.

The key problem with hustle culture is that it’s no longer voluntary, it’s become a necessity for new employees to retain their jobs, and most importantly for survival. There’s been a rapid increase in stress surrounding with finances or a person’s livelihood, simply making hustle culture a must. What started out as an innocent way of promoting some hard work, has turned into a vital habit that inevitably will lead to burnout and other problems.

This was seen back in 2008, when the recession forced tired employees to continue working for a stable life. Now, post-covid there’s another cost of living, and we’re seeing this cycle repeat itself once again. Something has to change.

WHAT’S BEEN A CATALYST FOR IT’S PREVALENCE?

Apart from the economic climate, hustle culture has still been relevant in our society; and social media plays a huge role in that. A major part of social media nowadays is content creation and influencer-culture. As influencers and creators share their daily lives and how they spend their time, there’s a small but consistent sense of incompetency that can build up amongst their followers. There’s even more questioning of one’s self amongst Gen Z, ‘If they’re working, then why aren’t I?’ This content can foster envy rather then support, leading everyone to believe they must work just like their favourite creator.

There’s no harm in showing a daily routine, but the problem arises when people don’t show their breaks or their downtime. If someone only posts themselves doing work, of course they’re going to want it to be romanticised as it’s going on social media, but that choice influences others to think it’s perfectly acceptable to be working until the brink of burnout.

That rest you take in life is just as important in order to reach your goals and achieve your dreams. Of course, social media is only a highlight reel – and nobody can be expected to show every part of their life. It may be that this specific influencer doesn’t take breaks, so they’re only showing exactly what they do. But that’s exactly it: the harsh reality of hustle culture. In order for this lifestyle to be seen as toxic, someone has to start showing the authenticity behind it.

So ask yourself this, if someone with a large platform always posts themselves on the grind, how is that going to look to their followers who may be of a similar age and don’t think they’re doing enough?

THE CONSEQUENCES OF HUSTLE CULTURE

The lifestyle of constantly hustling will inevitably lead to many repercussions. As hustle culture is increasingly promoted: people continuously work to make ends meet, and attempt to live up to the societal standards. Burnout is bound to be on the rise, while employee’s wellbeing simultaneously deteriorates. A study found that new young employees have said that only 7% of them have never felt stress or overwhelmed, compared to 30% for older people.

Despite the increased working levels, hustle culture even negatively effects employers. with a continuation of work at home, and a lack of necessary breaks – employees overall productivity levels are have actually seemed to decline in the workplace because they’re overworking themselves and haven’t given themselves any time to rejuvenate before they next have to work again. So, when they do work again, they’ve lost focus, and are more prone to making mistakes. As they overwork themselves again to attempt to fix them, it just becomes and endless, draining cycle.

Even statistics can prove this, in the UK around half a million people are stressed because of their jobs. The sad part is that now it’s so difficult to find a solution. We can’t pinpoint if it’s wanting to live up to expectations, or they’ve actually overworked themselves or any other cause! And in this crisis, working (in some sectors more than others) is essential, not just personally but also nationally. Raising pressure levels further, especially for young people who know that they are the future and ones who need to find the answers. The Mental Health Foundation found that 60% of young people were unable to cope due to the pressure of succeeding.

BREAKING DOWN THE TOXIC CYCLE

So when it truly comes down to it, how can we promote rest, change societal expectations and help young people cope in the current economic situation?

To me, I’d love to see more encouragement of downtime. I think we are slowly starting to see it, but I’d like to see more creators and even employers just acknowledge that with hard work also comes rest. Giving people that choice really allows them to see the contrast of no rest, and the benefits of it. Allowing them to perform their best – and hopefully discourage the cycle from repeating again in the future.

This could be through providing breaks to employees at work, or an influencer showing how they relax when they’re not doing work. These are known as Break Culture and this lifestyle is definitely a good direction to go in.

Something a lot of people have realised, is that to break the pattern they have to be direct. Not just with the people around them, but also with themselves. What this means is building an understanding with yourself to know when it’s time to stop, and identifying if burnout is there. If it is, then it’s time to be upfront with people around you regarding rest and prioritising yourself.


So guys, those are my thoughts on hustle culture. Of course, the ending was a bit more constructive and solution-based as I try to do in all my posts. If you want to see my sources, then you’ll find them linked in the most relevant part of the post. Thank you so much for reading, if you have any thoughts on this lifestyle, then please do share in the comments!

You want to see more of me and get exclusive updates on my blog? Well check out my socials!
Instagram – For exclusive updates on posts
Goodreads – You can see any books I’ve read or even recommend me one!
Contact Me if you would like to collaborate or have any other inquiries
Any suggestions or feel like chatting? Comment down below!

Have an amazing year!

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Working Too Hard? Here’s How You Can Avoid Burnout Approaching The Holiday Season

Hello everyone it’s Zainab here, welcome or welcome back to my blog! I can’t believe that it’s already December, I feel like the year has gone so fast – but I love that we’re approaching a festive time of year. This is a time of positivity, where you should solely focus on relaxing and spending time with the people you love. I do know that sometimes this can be very difficult, so today I want to share what’s worked for me when I try to avoid burnout close to the holiday season, so that I can still be somewhat productive and work if I need to, while also using the time off to actually rejuvenate. Let’s jump into it!

Identifying Burnout

I think there’s a large difference between working hard and being in burnout, but surprisingly it’s hard to identify burnout for yourself. The World Health Organisation definition is:

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

WHO

This is a very complicated definition, but to me burnout is overworking yourself to the capacity where you lose yourself in the tasks, and you start to experience physical and mental consequences because of this. When I spoke with productivity expert Grace Marshall, she made the very valid point that, ‘you never feel like you’re enough, there’s always more we can be doing.’ This feeling is continuous and this constant cycle is a huge factor when it comes to burnout.

1 – Timeblock Your Tasks

As the definition stated, tine management is a leading cause of burnout for so many people. And it’s completely understandable – because sometimes you can just be so overwhelmed with what you have to do. And simultaneously, during the holiday season, the last thing you want to be doing is planning, because you just want to do everything on your own schedule. But, actively taking the time to plan your days means that you can delegate your tasks between days so that you have less to do daily. And, you can go even more specific and choose when you’ll do each task. You’ll be able to decide whether you should do the large jobs first, or work your way up to them (it’s your preference!)

Timeblocking is also very specific because you’re looking at your break cumulatively meaning that you can account for your other plans, or just add in time where you do nothing! And that’s completely valid because you would have already planned to get everything done on other days. Or, just at another time on the same day. You can choose just to time block days or narrow your focus down to what you’ll do every hour of every day.

Whatever you decide (timeblocking is so versatile) you can ensure that you get all your tasks done while also making sure that you don’t overwork yourself if random days are more saturated with work than others! Your workload will be spread at your comfort.

2 – Assign Yourself Some Absolute Rest Days

Your period of time off is usually always centred around a specific holiday such as Christmas or even New Years. Well, use those dates as guidance as to when you should take 100% of the day off and do absolutely nothing! Don’t get me wrong, in this time you may still need to do work tasks, or homework etc. But, to ensure that you don’t hit a work block or get to burnout, make sure you take a few days off and use the entirety to just switch off your work or school brain.

Also, you don’t necessarily have to celebrate the event – your rest day doesn’t even have to be on an event day! Just pick a random day to switch off and simply enjoy your time relaxing!

3 – Temporarily Remove Any Reminders Of Work You Have

Of course you still may have to work, but on the days where you feel quite tired, or even on one of your absolute rest days, just remove any reminder of the work you have. Honestly, just temporarily storing your work in a cupboard or draw will allow you to focus your attention on something else rather than just thinking about the work sitting on your desk and how you may have to do it. Some people even delete their email app off of their phone if they find they keep thinking about responses!

Remember, your time off from school or work is something to be treasured – even if you still have to be a little bit productive. Hopefully, just changing the location of your work can give your mind the break it deserves.


I hope this proves to be useful to you all as we enter the holiday period, remember you deserve some rest! Thank you so much for reading, let me know in the comments if you have any other advice for avoiding burnout.

You want to see more of me and get exclusive updates on my blog? Well check out my socials!
Instagram – For exclusive updates on posts
Goodreads – You can see any books I’ve read or even recommend me one!
Contact Me if you would like to collaborate or have any other inquiries
Any suggestions or feel like chatting? Comment down below!

Have an amazing day!

Grace Marshall Shares Her Expertise On Productivity, Burnout & More!

Hey everyone it’s Zainab here, welcome or welcome back to my blog! I’m super excited to bringing you guys another interview, this time I’m speaking with Grace Marshall who has 14 years experience in coaching in productivity and sharing advice with others. She chatted with me all about her ideology on productivity, avoiding burnout and her work. Let’s jump into it!

  1. INTRODUCTION ON GRACE
  2. GRACE’S BEGINNINGS IN PRODUCTIVITY
  3. GRACE’S PERSPECTIVE ON PRODUCTIVITY
  4. TECHNIQUES FOR FINDING HAPPINESS IN WORK
  5. GRACE’S WORK / BUSINESS
  6. GRACE’S IDEA OF SUCCESS
  7. GRACE’S TAKE ON BURNOUT
  8. GRACE’S ANNUAL AUGUST BREAK
  9. GRACE’S LINKS

INTRODUCTION ON GRACE

When we started our interview, I asked Grace to briefly explain the work she does, which I can imagine would’ve been quite difficult to keep brief as she has so many ventures! But, she created her productivity business 14 years ago, and often refers to her business as her ‘middle child’ as it was set up in the middle of having her two children. Along with her books, she mainly coaches and she shared that biggest problem her clients would face was that there was, ‘A lot to do, not enough time to do it!’ And that’s something she actually faces herself aswell as she describes herself as ‘naturally disorganised’ remarking that she often felt that ‘productivity picked me!’ rather than the other way around.

Photo From Grace’s Instagram (@gracemarshallninja)

GRACE’S BEGINNINGS IN PRODUCTIVITY

With that history, I was keen to delve into her first encounter with productivity and how that influenced Grace into working in that field. Beginning her answer, she recalled that she was a straight A student in school and a typical people pleaser. Going back to the idea that Grace is naturally disorganised, in school she knew that there was enough structure in place to tell her when and what to do, but when she moved to University that was the first time in her life she realised that she had to get organised.

Grace actually spent two weeks of her life homeless, when she didn’t realise that she had to apply to stay on campus during University! And she wanted to share this background to convey that she was not always good at productivity, and she first needed it in her life as a necessity in order to get organised and learn – and learning is where a lot of her productivity came from, even now. As the person interviewing her, it was really comforting to hear that her productivity comes from learning experiences too – it was nice to know that it’s okay to learn and grow!

This background was super interesting to hear, and I wanted to know how she started a business about something that came as a necessity to her. Well, Grace studied International Management at University and ended up working in a very small start up after graduating. She described this as a, ‘cutting environment’ in which she described it as learning very quickly what you’re cut out for and what you’re not, challenging the people pleasing side of her! This is what she now calls her, ‘mid life crisis in her early 20s’ which triggered her to switch careers and end up in coaching, and through talking with clients she went into productivity as that was part of their biggest problems.

GRACE’S PERSPECTIVE ON PRODUCTIVITY

One thing that’s really unique about Grace is that she prides herself on the human perspective of productivity. She mentioned to me that sometimes productivity can be seen as an ‘extreme sport’ or even a ‘cult of productivity’ where you only do something for the sake of pursuing it. So Grace’s idea was to find out, ‘What’s this actually for?’ and to find out what the productivity is in service for. Because if you don’t do this, it can lead to: Perfectionism, Busyness and Burnout.

Grace shared that as human beings there’s something intrinsic about joy and satisfaction from work. But her perspective is finding out how we can engage in that in a way that allows us to get good results but also for ‘the experience of it to be good’

In the past, Grace has looked at productivity historically. She learned that in the time of Henry Ford (1800s) productivity was about efficiency but then as we moved into the 1900s, Peter Drucker focused on effectiveness rather than efficiency.
But for Grace, it goes a step further, which is experience of it. As Grace finds that this is the only way we can be sustainable in our productivity. A question she would ask herself to discover this was:

Am I doing work in a way that does me good as well as the good that I’m doing out there in the world?

Grace Marshall

When I asked her about why this was so vital, she described it as a ‘virtuous cycle.’ Feeling good about the work we do can benefit our wellbeing but then also gives us the motivation to do more, turning into a ‘joyful cycle.’ And she’s learned this from her experiences of being a perfectionist / straight A student, focusing less on perfectionism and more on what tools she has to ‘surf that workflow rather than drowning in it!’

One of Grace’s books, How To Be Really Productive, was offering a free chapter so I knew I had to dive in to read the start. And in this first chapter Grace mentioned 3 major values that helped with finding happiness with working which were: Meaning, Purpose & Joy. In her words, these 3 things help to give some ‘substance’ to your productivity. Purpose allows you to identify what you’re working towards, working without Meaning can give a sense of the work being empty or draining, and Joy makes the experience of work fulfilling.

Photo From Grace’s Instagram (@gracemarshallninja)

TECHNIQUES FOR FINDING HAPPINESS IN WORK

Of course I wasn’t going to chat to Grace without asking for a technique that she could share, and she really brought the best ones forward! Grace is filled with these, each with their own quirky name and to fit a different purpose to finding happiness or avoiding stress.

She shared that one of her favourite yet simple things to do is to write herself a ‘Ta Da List!’ Which comprises with everything she has done in a day. The act of stopping, reviewing and reflecting to find a win really helps. Grace shared a statistic with me that stated that human beings have 3 times more positive experiences than negative ones, but we have a negative bias so it doesn’t always feel that way. So that negative experience can overshadow everything else, so Grace found that a Ta Da List balances out that perspective because you’re solely focusing on the good things. It can allow us to learn what we’ve done well so we can thrive, but can also just help with accountability on progress. Helping to further , as Grace says, ‘motivation and momentum!’

Later on in the interview, we went on to speak about burnout and recovering from it. That’s when Grace mentioned another one of her techniques called a Pick Me Up Playlist, which is another amazing concept and also solidified my hypothesis that she has quirky names for all her techniques! It’s simply noting down all the things that give you joy & energy that can help to recharge you – so then you have a menu to choose from!

GRACE’S WORK / BUSINESS

Grace’s business consists of her coaching clients as well as being an author of multiple widely read books focusing on productivity and other life challenges. When we spoke about coaching in particular, Grace said something that really stood out to me which:

Give yourself permission to explore

Grace Marshall

This is such a simple statement made by Grace, but one that’s so eye-opening to so many people. Grace did this personally when making her career switch to coaching, and now in her coaching sessions she encourages clients to treat the session ‘like a treasure hunt’ in order to discover some insight into what their next step is. And as a coach, Grace isn’t just about giving answers she says it’s about, ‘enabling them to be the expert in their life’ to create a space to explore.’ I think this is so reminiscient of her productivity ideology but is also a good reminder for us (me and you) that we should give ourselves the chance to explore and be okay with that, so we can find out what gives us our joy when being productivity.

After Grace discovered new things from working with clients for a while, she received the opportunity to write her first book. She’s written 3 since then: 21 Ways To Manage The Stuff That Sucks Up Your Time, How To Be Really Productive and Struggle. Yet, Grace thinks that she’ll always be a coach at heart and always wants to help people create the space to explore.

GRACE’S IDEA OF SUCCESS

Going back to what I mentioned earlier about the free chapter of Grace’s book, she made a very bold statement towards the end of the chapter about success.

Success is something you do, not something you have

HOW TO BE REALLY PRODUCTIVE

Grace acknowledged that most of the time, we see success as the outcome but actually we should take into account everything we’ve done leading up to that. From a productivity perspective, doing success means that you have more control over your success. Defining success in this very ‘tangible way’ can help you to see the building blocks and see success in the ‘doing’ rather than just the outcome.

Again, there was something really sympathising about this perspective on success. Grace really changed my perspective, and as someone who has public exams this year, listening to Grace was so impactful and I think she really helps everyone access a growth mindset in terms of success and how it’s a journey. One of Grace’s latest books: Struggle, has a really thought provoking quote about this.

Success is a labyrinth. Detours, dead ends, doorways, discoveries. We find our way; we lose our way. Along the way we discover guardians, teachers, tricksters, allies, mysterious keys and potent powers

STRUGGLE
Photo From Grace’s Instagram (@gracemarshallninja)

GRACE’S TAKE ON BURNOUT

When I asked Grace to talk around the subject of burnout, I knew that it was going to be quite challenging as it’s now very prominent in our modern day society. In her words, ‘We never had it to this degree 20 or 40 years ago’ and she’s right. She did share with me some theories behind what may have caused it.

One thing being we now have an increase in abundance and choice, which can result in ‘Never feeling like you’re enough, there’s always more we can be doing.’ That’s why she always advises people to start with enough, when it comes to productivity, because if we feel like we don’t have enough it becomes an ongoing journey; turning into perfectionism. Because now,

The nature of our society is always more

GRACE MARSHALL

But the key point she wanted me, and you, to take from this is that there isn’t more of you. Which can lead to stretching ourselves too much and burning out. Once that stage has been reached, she wanted to be clear that this can look different for different people – some having very clear effects (perhaps even physical symptoms) and some more subtle (which is the case for a lot of people). She prefers to refer to the latter as a ‘functioning burnout’ as it’s as if you can still function and work, but you’ve lost the joy in it. And as we’ve spoken about earlier in this interview, joy plays a central role in Grace’s productivity ideology!

For young people in particular, Grace went into quite a lot of detail at sharing the neurology behind it. When we complete a task and tick something off, we have a dopamine hit – and this is the chemical that can cause addiction. Kind of creating an addiction at getting things done, and when you’re young you can constantly be told that you have loads of potential and having this alongside the idea of abundance and choice can also lead to a burnout through the newfound addiction of getting things done and trying to make the right choice to reach that potential. But Grace also wanted to emphasise that this is also apparent in adults as well.

GRACE’S ANNUAL AUGUST BREAK

Something really unique about Grace is that every year she decides to take the month of August off from work. That’s actually the reason why this interview is being released now instead of the summer when I first spoke to Grace! I was super keen to hear about why she made this decision, as I’d never heard of anyone taking an entire month off from their work. When I asked her about this she let me in on her thought process.

Which was that if she recognised that she was constantly working, the quality of her work would deteriorate and she couldn’t come up with her best ideas. One thing that Grace explored in her book Struggle was that most natural phenomenons have cycles: seasons, hibernation, planting etc! But constant cycles can sometimes lose rhythm, and Grace wanted to restore that sense of rhythm in her work. This gave Grace her stopping point to rest & recover to fuel her her creativity and was also beneficial to her accountability and momentum.

When I asked her how someone who isn’t self employed to do this, she reminded me of the importance of actually recharging. Sometimes we can have time off, but we end up transferring all that working energy into new jobs such as house chores – and that’s not really resting. Her solution, of course, was choosing something from the Pick Me Up Playlist that we discussed previously in this interview. Doing something that can give you energy and joy, big or small, can make such a difference!


I had such an amazing experience speaking to Grace, all her advice and thoughts were so interesting – and I hoped you enjoyed this as much as I did! Let me know in the comments what you’ve learned from Grace and how you liked this new interview format. If you’d like to get in contact with Grace, just check out her links that I listed previously!

GRACE’S LINKS

You want to see more of me and get exclusive updates on my blog? Well check out my socials!
Instagram – For exclusive updates on posts
Goodreads – You can see any books I’ve read or even recommend me one!
Contact Me if you would like to collaborate or have any other inquiries
Any suggestions or feel like chatting? Comment down below!

Have a great day!