I resent the hustle. On one hand, I like making a game out of the repetitive slog of working. On the other hand, though, I feel guilty about taking naps. So I like the hustle: it keeps me engaged. I also dislike the hustle with a grim gloominess, because naps used to be fun.
You know what I mean by The Hustle, right? Spend five minutes on the internet reading about building successful businesses. You'll encounter ten articles preaching the glory of getting after your dreams with a vengeful energy.
Hundreds of productivity bloggers have thousands of words to share about the importance of pushing yourself to higher effort than the next guy. The mindset expands on platitudes like "the early bird gets the worm" and "who dares wins." You know, the whole "you can sleep when you're dead" culture.
"The culture of the hustle rides an undercurrent of competitiveness."
Every speaker or writer on the hustle suggests an undercurrent. They hint that every minute you aren't hustling is a minute you're losing to the other guy.
The hustle sounds cool. It motivates productivity, right?
There's strength in changing the language of daunting things in order to turn them into adventures instead of chores. The hustle starts being a problem when it commits the same crime as corporations do if they start treating their people like "human capital."
Because the important fact to keep near to hand is people can do more if they have strong morale. There's science attached to the strong relationship between wellness and productivity.
Which is great, but how do you do it?
What Does It Mean to Have a Relationship Between Wellness and Productivity?
Because, for example, drinking beer and going to punk rock concerts makes me happy. I that's all I ever do then my productivity tanks.
Here's another angle. If I find a grindstone and keep my face against it until I achieve my goals, I don't usually emerge happy.
So It Looks Like It's Not so Simple As Just Being Happy or Being Productive.
This suggests a need for balance. "To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short," Confucius says. The idea of the hustle is to use a little fun and balance it with a little guilt. The hope is to keep you interested and prevent you from getting lazy. Indulging in too much guilt kills your wellness, but indulging in too much work does too. The balance needs to be right.
Or that's the lesson I'm trying to learn.
I don't have universal answers. But I do have a few ideas. These are puzzles I've been setting for myself. It's their purpose to create links between stuff that makes me healthy and stuff that makes me productive. I'm pretty convinced I can find balance if I keep working on positive habits.
Orient Your Entertainment Towards Your Goals
Sounds obvious. Actually isn't.
The easiest literature to find on the subject of copywriting and productivity, for instance, doesn't nourish my mind or my soul.
One person gave me a book about managing money by Dave Ramsey. Another person gave me a book called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. They're good books, and they have good advice in them. Definitely useful reference manuals for people in particular places with particular needs. I have no interest in discrediting them.
People made a value-driven decision when they picked the books and podcasts they did. They suggested them to me out of good will.
Not my shine. I didn't gain any motivation from them in my career. They didn't speak to me in language that I spoke on subjects I cared about.
I pursue things that I find meaningful. I listen to the podcast 99% Invisible, which is about design, the more successful twin brother of copywriting. And I listen to podcasts about history, because people make decisions based on what brought them here.
Look at your goals. Find ways to soak your mind in things that you like that also motivate you to add to the world. Don't be afraid to make different choices than people suggest to you either. What works for you may not be the same as other people.
This idea can apply as much to your, like, entertainment. I write for a grassroots community project promoting live music in Barcelona, for example. This is part of my long-term strategy to bring this type of thing to Denver. One would say I have orientated entertainment in my goals to have more entertainment. A mouthful, yes. But entirely plausible. I have also ranked list of "realistic depictions of writers" that I see in movies. Why? It reminds me what it's like to be a writer in the world. Since that's what I am, it helps me to be confident. A confident attitude drives productivity.
Use Strategy When Taking Care of Your Health
Staying healthy can be just as much work as working. You ever noticed that? It's a chore to keep up with the trends in the appropriate amount of exercise and the most recent Best Diet Ever. Being a biological machine in the world today is a nightmare.
The great thing is to figure out how to create a connection between taking care of your physical self and doing something productive. I look forward to my walks and yoga, for instance, because they're podcast time. Podcasts drive my imagination, so exercise does.
Doesn't even touch on the basic correlation between good health and getting stuff done. The science just dances around that idea. Staying healthy improves focus and energy, which are what productivity stands on.
My aim here is building happiness bridges between the chores of life and accomplishing goals. Aim to make the thought of self-care and the thought of building our castles occupy the same good emotional space. When they do, we're a thousand times likelier to set to them with a good will.
Speaking of which...
Do You Even Meditate, Bro?
Meditation's a contentious topic for me. It's too loaded a word for me to speak of it peaceably.
I will, though, because it's the word I want. So I'll speak of it for a moment.
When I say it, I mean that experience of doing nothing but sitting calmly with limited stimulation and your own imagination. Obviously there's a lot of kinds of meditation. One kind is the sort where you've got your idea and you just sit with it for a while.
This is a practice by which you can take care of your spiritual health. I don't think there's a spiritual school of thought that hasn't got some kind of meditation built into it. That can't be an accident.
I'm not suggesting replacing any meditation practice you might have already.
Rather, I've found a lot of value in using a meditation-type head space to feel out my goals. I'm far more likely to approach my goals with a good will if I like how they feel. Meditating on them gives me solid perspective on accomplishing my goals.
The Impact of Wellness on Your Work
As an entrepreneur, it can be hard sometimes to remember how important it is to invest in your workforce. You are your whole workforce, though. Working yourself into the ground means getting nothing done. Productivity in the workplace, as an employee of yourself, means ensuring the well-being of your main asset: you.
Work some movement into your day. Indulge your curiosity for a little while. Find a source for a few good laughs! And if you can fix it so your fun has some investment in your goals, all the better.
ATHENA's Ed. Note:
Oliver Blakemore is the published author of Ragged Museum and City Song. He runs Naked Content Workshops for Think Digital . A prolific writer of many many words, he is also and is Resident Viking Hipster for Front Page News Music, Nutrient Elements and Wellness Quest by Brainiac Brands.