Why it’s killing you and what to do instead
2020 has taught me something significant, and it’s something I want to move forward with my life goals, and I hope to pass them on to you.
Hustling is stupid.
It’s a waste of time, it kills your relationships, and it makes you miserable. 2020 forced us all to slow down, and in that time I was able to read more, enjoy my kids and my wife more, and it largely repaired my mental health.
Over the past few years, I’ve been deep in the hustle mentality. I’ve been inundated with the idea that I need to work hard and maximize my productivity and never miss a beat to get the most out of life. I used to work for a sales company that very much pushed this idea, and I’m telling you from working like that and taking a step back, it’s not the way to be.
Life isn’t about working. It’s about enjoying and creating.
My goal in 2021 is simple; I want to enjoy my personal relationships and my hobbies more. And it should be your goal too.
The Hustle Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be
The big problem with hustle culture is the way it robs you of your identity. Your self-worth is not determined by what you enjoy or the relationships you cultivate. Instead, your value within hustle culture is your output — or, more specifically, how much time you invest in your hustle.
The largest perpetrator of this mentality is, of course, Gary Vaynerchuk. Now, I’m not here to dunk on him. Gary Vee means well, and he’s inspiring. I listen to him from time to time to get motivated. However, this mentality of working all day, every day to accomplish what you want is not scalable, and it flies in the face of modern research.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that working more actually reduces productivity. Here are some quick and dirty stats to prove my point.
- People who work 70 hours a week get the same amount accomplished as those who work 55 hours. In fact, working more often contributes to reduced productivity.
- Young people are more likely to be depressed or suicidal, and that’s mostly because of being overworked and under-compensated.
- Our work lives and dedications to our careers are actively ruining our relationships.
So what’s the solution? Well, simple. Do less. A lot less. You practically shouldn’t be working at all. Okay, that last line might have been a bit too extreme, but the sentiment still stands.
In 2020, I got the opportunity to go “full-time” with my freelance writing. That meant I could pay all my bills and then some with my writing. But you want to know the truth? I don’t work full-time writing. I don’t even work close to full time. If I’m busting my butt, I work maybe 25 hours a week.
You see, I have a really low cost of living. Part of that is luck and privilege on my part, but I’m also designing my life to be this way. I want things to be cheap because I would rather invest in something I enjoy than make payments on things I don’t need, like a new car or a big house.
By keeping my costs low, I keep my necessity for work low. I’m also fortunate enough to have a high-paying client that fits in my niche perfectly. So I enjoy the work and make money.
I could hustle and make even more, but why? I contribute to my retirement, I’m paying down my debts, and I’ve earned enough free time to get back into reading and pick up wargaming. Sure, I could probably make at least $50,000, but I don’t want to do that.
I don’t like working, and I’d rather do less and have more time. Rick from Rick and Morty sums it up perfectly.
Laziness aside, doing less also helps you do more. By taking on fewer clients and less work, I can focus on the work that counts. That means more money for time and more time for effort.
This is something called the 80/20 principle. In essence, 80 percent of your output (read as income, productivity, whatever) comes from 20 percent of your input. The goal is to find the 20 percent that yields the highest results and maximize your efficiency.
But instead of maximizing or doing more of that 20 percent, what if you just left it alone and cut everything else out? You would be surprised how many things you do that are fundamentally pointless. And I’m not talking about social media or binge-watching TV. I’m talking about work. Your job. Most of it is totally and utterly worthless.
Those emails? Only respond in the morning or just before you leave the office. Better yet, don’t respond to them at all. Meetings? Skip them or weasel your way out. Most of them are utterly pointless or summarized in emails anyway (which can usually be ignored).
Focus more on the things that directly affect your output. For me, that’s writing work. It’s easy because my deliverables are directly tied to my compensation, so I know when I’m working on something exactly how valuable it will be.
Instead of working overtime, use your 40 hours more efficiently to accomplish what matters. I promise that your boss doesn’t notice or care if you come in on the weekends.
What About Side Hustles?
Ah, side hustles. This is the real bread and butter of hustle culture. I spent most of the above referencing working hard for your 9–5, but the same can be applied to your side hustle. You’re doing way too much, and it isn’t helping much anyway.
That isn’t to say you shouldn’t side hustle. They’re great, and diversified income is pretty much the only way to guarantee economic stability these days. But, you shouldn’t do what Gary Vee suggests and work 16 hours a day on your side hustle on the weekends.
Instead, just do one thing: one thing — and only one thing — every day.
This is something called the domino effect. Essentially, doing one thing small thing every day builds into something bigger, and the consequences of those actions are more significant than the actual acts themselves.
For example, I’m writing a book. I used to try and write 2000 words a day or 5000 words on the days I wasn’t working. But you know what? I bit off way more than I could chew. I would stare at my computer, shuffle through my outline, and then stress when I’d only written 500 words in an hour.
Long story short, I developed some severe anxiety over my book and ended up not writing a single word for months. What was my solution? In 2020 — at the start of quarantine — I decided to write 250 words every day, and that’s it. Just a page. A single page. Every day.
I haven’t hit that every day, but this practice has yielded tremendous results. In 2020, I wrote two plays and 40,000 words of my novel. That’s because most days I was feeling pretty good and pushed farther than the first page. My small efforts quantified in an unprecedented way and yielded more results than I could have possibly imagined.
In short, doing less is doing more.
The same goes for Medium. This is my “side hustle,” as it were, and I’ve been doing it consistently for about three months. But I don’t write an article every day. I usually write one every week, maybe two if I’m passionate about something.
By the logic of most writing advice on this site, I should be going nowhere, but that’s not the case. My followers, views, and payments have grown steadily these past three months. Sure, maybe not as fast as if I spat something out every day, but I don’t need to, and I don’t want to. I’m getting precisely the results I want at precisely the pace I want to accomplish them.
So stop stressing out. Do less and focus on the things that matter to you. I promise it will pay off in the end, and you will feel more fulfilled with life by slowing down and watching a good movie, reading a good book, or painting a miniature than working all the time.
You can’t take your retirement account, your assets, or your career with you after this life, so spending all of your time pumping those things up as much as possible seems silly. You only get one life, so spend it doing what you love with the people you love. You’ll be better off.
The hustle isn’t the answer to your problems. Most of the time, it’s the cause of them.