Many of us might have come across the terms “hustling” or “hustle culture”. Hustle culture refers to immersing yourself so much in your work and getting more things done that you barely have time to do anything else.
In fact, hustling is celebrated on social media, especially among millennials. It is linked to productivity and is considered an important ingredient in the formula of success.
As a former hustler, I can confidently say that only when I worked smarter, and not harder, was I able to achieve my business targets. But hustling and the constant grind can seriously hinder your success.
In the early days of my entrepreneurship journey, I dedicated long hours to the business. It didn’t bother me that I slept less, or that I didn’t have any time for my social life. I genuinely believed that to succeed, I should work as much as I could.
As a result, I struggled to keep my health in check and I felt sick more often. If I wasn’t putting in as many hours as possible into work, I felt guilty. Scrolling through my social media page didn’t help either, as hustle culture was glorified.
But all that hustle eventually led me to feel burnt out and I resented going to work. It was then that I knew for sure that hustling was not the correct way because it was at the expense of my health, happiness, and personal time, all of which are equally essential as achieving my goals.
I knew I had to work smart and not hard. You can still achieve all your business goals and maintain a healthy work-life balance without dedicating every waking minute to work.
Hustle culture is not sustainable in the long run because you cannot be creative and productive 100 per cent of the time.
Eventually, everyone will burn out and we don’t want to reach a stage where we resent what we are doing because we didn’t give ourselves a chance to take a break.
When I faced burnout, it took me months to get back on track. For many, that amount of time could cost them everything they have worked for.
Instead of working all day long, I dedicated a block of time for deep-focus sessions and blocked distractions such as social media and any personal calls or meetings. I was able to get the same amount of work down in a few hours and dedicate my time to other pursuits that brought me joy.
We live in a society where we crave instant gratification and this affects the way we work. We demand instant results and any delays equate to failure. But in doing so, we may jeopardise quality. As a previous hustler, I was focused on getting things done on time at the cost of quality. Greatness takes time and that’s why I focused on quality rather than quantity. To my clients, that made all the difference.
If there’s one thing I learnt as a previous hustler is that results depend on the efforts you put in. But that should never be at the expense of our health, happiness and peace of mind. We should stop glorifying overwork and instead advocate for quality work and a healthy work-life balance.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi.