Hustle Culture – An Unhealthy Obsession With Productivity

Victoria Trieber

As we are in the swing of deadline season, stress levels are rising as we chase the deadlines. Whilst this productivity is helpful, social media has become another source of stress through the promotion of hustle culture. More and more people promoting dedicating every minute of the day to productivity and selecting images to project an aura of perfection on Instagram. However, this is proving to be harmful to our mental health.

The pressure for a side hustle is at its height, with the start of the pandemic having brought on a new wave of social media encouragement to spend the quarantine period being productive.

Before, we all had our goals for 2020- three holidays, graduation, and learning to drive were mine- and then suddenly we felt an overwhelming need to change these goals to fit the pandemic situation.

Over the years, Study YouTubers have set high expectations of what our levels of productivity should be

This ‘profound collective pressure to do something ‘productive’ during this time, as said in The Tempest, meant we haven’t had time to process the sudden effects of having your entire life put on hold.

For young people, this was not the first time such a mentality was promoted as positive. Over the years, Study YouTubers (more commonly known as StudyTubers) have set high expectations of what our levels of productivity should be, for the most part led by a societal pressure to have your life planned out by the time you are 18.

StudyTubers, such as Ruby Granger, putting out videos on 14-hour study days (even if these videos were from 2+ years ago) unwittingly puts our mind on the idea that constant productivity from dawn to dusk is desirable, which more often than not neglects one’s personal life and mental health.

It is healthier to have your career be a slow burner than have a full-out emotional and physical burnout by the time you are 30

This ends up translating into work life once we leave education, where we feel the need to accelerate our careers to the max. Careers fairs often unwittingly promote this, bringing forth examples of people who quickly rose up the ranks to seniority in a company by the time they were 25. This puts pressure on everyone else to do the same as if we are supposed to be carbon-copy robots of this example.

Aptly put by David Schindler, a careers adviser, we have a ‘tendency to view our careers as a sprint’, forgetting that you are going to spend the next 40-50 years of your life in the work force. It is healthier to have your career be a slow burner than have a full-out emotional and physical burnout by the time you are 30; something which has been proven to have a negative effect on our lifespan.

hustle culture… shames you for not working ‘hard enough’ during your down time

On top main career pressure, social media has made a clear emphasis on the importance of a ‘side hustle’ for the hours that you are not working your main career. Pyramid schemes, which market selling products and getting a commission from others they persuade to sign up to sell, are at the centre of this.

As the blog, The Snapping Point, said well, pyramid schemes rely on people shaming others ‘into over-working for a supposed profit’ which rarely comes in such a scheme. No wonder 50% of new distributors quit within the first year.

Such schemes are pushed forward through hustle culture, which shames you for not working ‘hard enough’ during your down time, putting a significant strain on our mental and physical health.

So, what can we do to combat hustle culture? Firstly, it is important to note that there is nothing wrong with working hard; how you handle your work/life balance is what matters. Millenials and Generation Z are prevalently starting to re-evaluate their relationship with work through deconstructing our need to be on autopilot from the moment we wake up until we go to bed.

Dr Bryan Thompson, psychotherapist, and professor at the University of North Carolina, speaks in Psychology Today of the importance of being attuned to your surrounding and yourself to bring forth mindful productivity. This in turn allows for resting periods that will keep us from an emotional and physical burnout.

It is important to keep this in mind as we fight against a harmful way of living and live a fun and fulfilling life.

Victoria Treiber

Featured image courtesy Andreas Klassen on Unsplash . No changes were made to this image. 

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