Let’s talk about Hustle Culture.
As I start to grow Poshwell as a full-time working mother who also happens to be, what I call, a geriatric millennial, I tend to be like most people in this age demographic, a serial multitasker with far too many irons in the fire. In my professional career, you would see me managing a growing team of unique humans and being a supportive colleague to my peer group while also taking on complex and urgent tasks delegated to me. Our workplaces and careers have become a mighty monolith that requires our attention beyond measure. For many, working 40 hours a week may now be seen as the extreme bare minimum to be considered an engaged and productive employee. With this dynamic in mind, we over-promise, then over-deliver to consider the task a success.
Enter Hustle Culture.
But What Does That Mean?
In sum, it’s the over glorification of overworking. It’s the undue pressure of placing work responsibilities far above other elements of your life. We all know that one person, whether personally or professionally, who responds to (often unimportant) emails at all hours of the night. They arrive at the office extra early and leave equally late. You can find them taking on that extra project everyone has been dodging-which, let’s be honest, you probably don’t mind. They’re reluctant to take time away from the office because the work guilt is too real. You figure it’s probably at the detriment of something reasonably significant. Still, I wonder what is the actual cost of this toxic behavior and what can organizations do to prevent or discourage this practice.
Hustle Culture in the Workplace
Hustle culture isn’t without its rewards. You would expect to reap the byproducts of the extraordinary work throughout your career. Fast promotions, ascension to leadership positions, and more money are some of the obvious rewards the workplace would offer. Praise and recognition of a job well done can be equally motivating to the right person. Despite the glory, hustle culture can garner, it’s important to be aware of the breeding ground for the toxic trait to flourish. Doing so will help you actively avoid the organization, or adjust how approach working in a challenging environment.
Animated picture of a woman frustrated by hustle culture in the workplace.
Here are my top five steps you can take to end your hustle culture syndrome:
1. Recognize what it looks like at your workplace and for you personally.
Sometimes you don’t recognize you’re a victim until you’ve it’s too late and you’ve officially burned out. Everyone will have their own limits of hustle mode, but it doesn’t mean you have to live up to their standard. If you take the time to chat with coworkers or your peers across several teams, you will be able to find common trends or a similar sentiment of burnout.
I suggest really taking time to evaluate your own mental wellbeing. Ask yourself hard questions related to your workload, how do you feel Sunday night? Are you ambivalent, or does it dredge up pangs of anxiety? Are you consistently going above and beyond at the detriment of yourself or your life? You’ll start to get a sense of anything that is out of alignment for you.
2. Define your boundaries and STICK TO THEM!
I will admit this one may not be so easy to implement, especially if you’ve already set a precedence in favor of hustle culture. This could also be difficult if you’re in a job where the industry lends itself to a face-paced and extreme high performance. Read: up or out, (side-eyeing you finance and consulting). But just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean it’s impossible, especially where your well-being is concerned. Think about what boundaries are required for you to do your best, remain engaged, and show up as your best self. Does that mean you have set working hours? Will time blocking become a religious practice for you and your time management philosophy? Will you now refuse to multitask?
If you work in one of those high stake occupations mentioned above (or another job in a similar environment), you may not be able to enforce your will. In any case, chat with your manager to get them on board with your plan and boundary setting.
I’m willing to bet they would be fully on board if it means retaining their precious employee.
Whatever you decide, make sure it works for you.
3. Put a lil’ base in your voice when you say: NO.
This could fall squarely into #2 as a brilliant and much-needed boundary for some, however, it’s strong enough to stand on its own which is why it made the cut. My mother once told me ‘NO’ was a complete sentence. While I might challenge that, it definitely has a place when working to combat workplace fatigue, hustle culture, or burnout syndrome. It’s well within your right to exercise the power of no when you’ve reached your personal or professional limitations. You might have to build the confidence to execute on this especially if you’re a serial “yes” woman, but I promise, the strength you feel afterward, you’ll be looking for other places to hit them with a no.
4. Prioritize rest and self-care.
I recently saw a post on LinkedIn that said something to the effect of practicing self-care as much as you check your inbox and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The overachiever in me instantly thought about how unreasonable that is but then the rational side of my brain thought well, why not? You accrue paid time off or perhaps you have unlimited PTO, take it-it’s yours, you’ve earned it and more importantly, you deserve it. We tend to think that self-care has to be these grand gestures and while that’s true, they can also be tiny, just-in-time tasks that give you enough of a reset to stay on track. You may not be able to castaway to Aruba before your next meeting, but you can spend 20 minutes on Google planning your upcoming vacation to the exotic island.
5. Stop rewarding toxic productivity and hustle culture syndrome in others.
A common practice I naively engage in is saying how busy I am. Yes, I juggle many, many things, but my self-worth is not tied to how many meetings I sit in each day. In fact, I probably didn’t delegate enough and I certainly didn’t set enough time for actual work. I’m guessing it’s the same for you. We acknowledge the busyness of others as if it’s a badge of honor and speaks to their level of importance. Invite someone to embrace a slower pace with you. Instead of “complementing” them on the intensity of their Google Calendar, ask them for a walk and an unrelated afternoon coffee.
If you can place these steps into action I’m hopeful the death of hustle culture will be fast and imminent, for you, at least.
Dropdown below and let me hear your story on how hustle culture affects you and one thing you can put into place to cure your syndrome.