‘Get in the grindset’: Toxicity within hustle culture 

As “hustle culture” has been popularized, giving everything 110% has become the new giving everything 100%. If you aren’t waking up before 5 a.m. every morning to go on a four-mile run and then take a freezing shower, all before you go to class and then head to work for the rest of the afternoon, are you really prioritizing your future? Are you striving towards your best self?

Hustle culture is a concept that encourages people, particularly those in the workplace, to put in as much time and effort as possible to achieve maximum productivity. An article from Talkspace defines hustle culture as “A common, modern workplace environment that emphasizes hard work and long hours as the key to success … encouraging their employees to put in extra effort and work hours for better results.”

Constantly striving towards betterment is an intrinsic part of hustle culture. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this mentality, this culture of constantly going becomes problematic when people aren’t allowing themselves the time to rest that is also necessary for long-term sustainability and well-being. 

Many aspects of hustle culture seem very beneficial to people who want to be the best versions of themselves, whether that’s regarding their finances, career, health or many other aspects of their lives. A culture that encourages people to work their hardest seems like it would lead to people who are as motivated and productive as possible … right?

In reality, hustle culture has had many negative effects on the people who practice it. A constant need to be working, to be productive and to overall be better quickly leads to burnout when people don’t practice self-care and prioritize their rest as well as their goals. 

A 2022 survey from Deloitte and Workplace Intelligence reported not only that “Over 40% of employees feel exhausted, stressed, and overwhelmed”, but also that “70% of C-level executives are seriously considering quitting their jobs for one that better supports their well-being.”

The average person is incredibly burnt out, and this isn’t limited to adults full-time in the workforce. Many college students have adopted hustle culture principles, which often result in their own type of burnout for people in academia.

In the previously mentioned Talkspace article, therapist Dr. Olga Molina, D.S.W., LCSW, provided her own definition of hustle culture, describing it as “Working excessively without regard for one’s self-care needs and relationships in order to reach professional success.”

When constant betterment and exceedingly high achievement are the goals, it can be difficult to simultaneously prioritize rest and self-care, both of which are necessary for long-term, sustainable productivity. Many students end up burnt out early in the semester, exhausted and unable to do their best work, because they prioritize achievement over wellness. 

Students who are facing the detrimental effects of hustle culture aren’t alone, and they don’t have to accept the rest of the semester as a lost cause. If you want to maximize your productivity while maintaining your sanity, making time for yourself to truly rest and recover from the hustle is essential. 

In an interview with Forbes, author Ryan Crownholm of “The Hustle Trap: A How-To Guide for Doing Less and Making More with Your Business”, offered his input on how to combat the toxicity within hustle culture. 

“Understand that your time is invaluable and should be optimized,” Crownholm said. “Embrace technology and tools that can streamline operations. Prioritize tasks and focus on high-impact activities. And most importantly, schedule regular breaks and downtime. Remember, it’s not about working harder; it’s about working smarter.”

While hustle culture has pushed society to value constant productivity above anything else, efficient work isn’t best supported by ceaseless busyness. By promoting a mentality that prioritizes well-being and sustainable work practices, true productivity can be redefined and better achieved.

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