Imagine this…you open up Instagram on a dreary Monday morning just to be met with dozens of photos marked with the hashtags #grindneverstops, #nosleep and #riseandgrind. You click through your stories to see 3 a.m. authors, 5 a.m. runners and the healthy no-carb breakfast your friend ate four hours ago. Suddenly you realize that while you were asleep, the world continued on without you and the “grind” never ceased with the sun. This, my friend, is hustle culture—the new impossible standard that praises productivity over all else.
Hustle culture is essentially the mindset that the amount of work one gets done in a day defines their worth. Our society places great value on productivity, and those who are constantly “hustling” are celebrated more than others who have a normal work schedule. We can see evidence of this constantly… it’s a competition between students to get the least amount of sleep and being so busy you “miss lunch” is praised. Time and time again, however, it is proven that this lifestyle is not sustainable and leads to burnout. All of a sudden, you become physically and emotionally drained to the point where your “hustle” is not worth it anymore; the productivity you found your confidence in disappears as fast as it came.
If I’m being completely honest, I fall into the “hustle culture” mentality more often than I would like to admit. Thoughts about starting my own podcast, trying a new workout schedule or joining yet another club on campus are constantly skipping around in my brain (sometimes all at the same time!). Those Instagram hashtags call my name, but after trying to imitate a lifestyle that isn’t meant for me, I always end up in the same anxious headspace. While I’m still trying to figure it out, here are some of my tips on how to avoid giving in to hustle culture and burning out:
1. Balance your responsibilities with things you love to do
We all have that constant debate between prioritizing responsibilities or passions, but they can both exist at the same time! Especially as college students, having enough hobbies to counteract the workload of classes allows us to still feel productive while finding joy in our work. Putting value into something you care about helps improve our self-concept and will lead to a happier life!
2. Set a bedtime and stick to it!
I’ve been doing this since high school, and it is a game-changer! Having a bedtime sets a limit on how much work we allow ourselves to do, thus forcing us to realize that some of the things we tend to prioritize aren’t truly as important as we give them credit for. If it’s not done before bedtime, it’s not getting done at all. This boundary reduces burnout from working on something that doesn’t matter.
3. Mute toxic Instagram users
This one can be hard to navigate, but if someone’s daily 5 a.m. morning routine makes you feel bad about yourself, there’s no need to watch it anymore. The #riseandgrind lifestyle just doesn’t work for everyone, and that is OKAY! Instead, follow people who inspire you to work hard, not guilt you into it.
4. Use a planner
Yes, I’ll admit…I’m one of those planner girls that write down every little responsibility in cute fonts with corresponding stickers, but I swear it helps! Hourly planning provides a set amount of time to get a workout in or finish an assignment; this kind of productivity is so much healthier than sitting at a desk for hours tracking how long you can grind without sleep. You can even schedule in break times to take a walk outside or watch some Tik Tok!
5. Don’t make other people’s goals your goals
Don’t wake up early every morning to run if you hate running! Don’t work two jobs because you are afraid society will view you as lazy! It’s not trendy to be anxious, frazzled and exhausted to the point where you can no longer function. As a society, we need to accept that it’s not worth it to sacrifice our mental health for something we were told by others to care about. At the end of the day, your productivity will NEVER determine your worth—you are so much more than what you do!