Work smart, not hard.
It’s something my high school engineering teacher taught me. Eight years ago I sat in his class using the Inventor computer program to make a 3D rendition of a Christmas ornament. Between calculations, line here, line there, layer, mask, object snap, etc. I had about 20 steps involved and it took me the entire hour of class time. He came over to my computer station started a new document and created the exact same ornament in 8 steps and less than 15 minutes then proceeded to tell me how I could have read that book I was holding onto, or drawn, or played around on the computer for the rest of class or really anything that I WANTED to do instead of working, if I had only worked smarter not harder.
However we live in a society of hustle culture.
A society where we put working as hard as possible to the point of overworking ourselves as the primary means to gaining any respect, having purpose, and our main source of identification. A society where 20 steps looks more respectable than 8…and it’s burning people out.
But “slow living” is trending up and competing for the lives of the youngest workforce with hustle culture.
On one hand we still have mainstream and social media push to “secure the bag”, “get on the grind”, and celebration of workaholism. Then there’s the backlash, the push towards work life balance and a lot of young people are citing European lifestyles, siestas, later starting times, shorter commutes, and the four day work week while still maintaining or even excelling in productivity as their reasons why.
It makes sense, hustle culture sets up unsustainable expectations in the workplace.
Though mottos like, “don’t stop when you’re tired, stop when you’re done” have a air of motivation and encouragement in them, taking a step back reveals preaching working yourself into exhaustion. If you never stop when you’re tired you destroy a boundary and a new task will be on your desk right as you submit the last. Don’t stop when you’re tired though, get that one done too and let the cycle continue until you mess up, become apathetic, and quit your job.
Hustle culture furthermore encourages a fast pace and zero self care time.
This usually leads to outside of work practices that are less sustainable. Driving a car to a work place within walking distance because you don’t want to take up precious minutes walking to work, grabbing a coffee to go in the morning in that plastic or styrofoam cup because no time to sit down and enjoy it in the reusable mug, and putting in such long hours that you’re ordering take out on the way home from work instead of time to cook a more sustainable meal.
Hustle culture leaches into our single use anything consumption and encourages buying more.
A lot of the responsibility for change here comes from the top down. Employers must be willing to take the leap of faith and make the changes in expectations of workers otherwise employee demands mean nothing.
I walk to work, my later start time allows me to have the ability to enjoy a slow morning, wake up at a more natural hour, enjoy my coffee and I don’t have resentment for the day by the time I arrive. Flexibility in when I come in to have in person discussions with my boss versus being able to say “I actually think I’d be more productive in getting that done at home” allows me to not dread leaving my house in the morning because I know I have more control and freedom over my own life while still maintaining the necessary productivity for success in my employment.
That flexibility also cultivates a healthy relationship with my boss in which stress is reduced because work life balance is established.
Though not every industry can work off this exact same model, it is important to find these changes in each industry so society as a whole can create a more sustainable method of living and we can begin to identify ourselves by more than our occupations.
A note from Kate, "the boss" in this blog: I have been both a victim & abuser of hustle culture my whole career, even before it had a name. I felt as a woman I needed to work harder to prove my worth, and felt the optics of working around the clock, being at my desk first and also the last one out of the parking lot was the same as working hard.
And now that I am older, wiser & my own boss it brings me a lot of joy to create a work environment for Bec where she feels she can take breaks, days off, or prioritize other things in her life other than work. We are always looking for smart people who love great products and the planet, reach out to me if you need anything: firstname.lastname@example.org