Working. Hustling. Getting to the grind. There are so many ways that we describe work in an attempt to motivate ourselves. To push ourselves a little further than before and work ourselves to our absolute limit.
The overall nature of working hard these days isn’t too far away from some of the mentality of entrepreneurs. There have been many on record who have talked about working long hours. Some feel a sense of accomplishment of working 50 or more hours every week on their dream. These entrepreneurs spur other people to work as hard as them and strive to achieve something.
While there is nothing wrong with working, it’s easy for this sort of mentality to push yourself too far. We should all be enjoying the process of our work, but sometimes working ourselves into the ground doesn’t always yield the best of results.
Last month, I feel like the whole month was spent working and there was never a chance to breathe. While some of my actions are understandable in my current situation, it doesn’t justify the behaviour of working oneself into the ground. And neither should it apply to you.
So for those out there hustling, do keep hustling, but here are some words of wisdom from someone who has flirted a little with workaholism.
Realize There Are Two Kinds Of Working
Some call it working hard and working smart, but there are many other iterations of it. Instead of those two aspects, I’m focusing on the other two: the work that exchanges time for money and the work that exchanges money for more money.
In essence, these fit into the typical working hard and working smart, but they encompass a broader scope than those. For example, exchanging time for money can be done in a smart way by increasing your hourly rate to begin with. Exchanging money for more money is working smart, but also entails letting money work for you while you sleep.
Why these types of exchanges are important is that when people think of working hard, many people put effort into the number of hours. They’ll exchange their time for money and may have some other cute strategies to help.
But if you’re doing a 9-5 job, you’re only shooting yourself in the foot by employing this method. Unless you can increase your hourly rate, you’re stuck in a fixed-line.
How some entrepreneurs are able to indulge in the exchange of time to money is due to the fact they’re exchanging money for more money as well. They have established other things beyond running their business to help support themselves financially. Whether that’s in a sound saving/investing strategy to having a mentor guide them and help them to focus on what matters most.
They’re working on a smarter level beyond productivity hacks.
Still Practice Productivity Hacks
That being said, I wouldn’t turn my nose up at productivity hacks. Nicolas Cole wrote an article on productivity hacks recently that I loved. It provides great insight into what productivity is and to better manage it.
Practical productivity methods are very helpful and needed in todays society and thankfully people are coming up with new insights into productivity. There are so many out there that think productivity is a matter of pushing yourself harder and getting more time into your work.
Instead, we need to be thinking more like Cole where you’re able to put out some decent output and not feel drained in the end.
After working productively last month, I was in that state of drain. I felt despite all of the work I did, I barely made a move or ounce of progress. Because of those feelings, I’m working on changing more of my approach to work. I take time to mentally prepare myself for the work ahead rather than just doing it.
I would encourage those who are pouring a lot of effort into their work to come in with a mindset towards work. Set yourself expectations for what you want to accomplish and be aware of how long tasks generally take you.
This also reminds me of Parkinson’s Law. A productivity method that is described as such:
Work expands so as to fill time allotted.
If you have an expectation to finish the work and you know the work takes you an hour, be prepared to work for that one hour. Make the most of it and don’t hesitate. Focus on the work that you have.
As much as working can provide you with fulfilment and purpose, you still need to pace yourself. Everything in life can be taken as a sprint. If you try to blaze through everything, you’re going to be exhausted after a while.
Another way to look at it is with the idea of speeding. As the years go on, my dad has followed the practice of driving at a regular speed in town. He sees plenty of cars speeding or cutting ahead of him which is fine. But oftentimes, he sees them again being caught in traffic with him driving past them.
It’s easy for us to get into that mentality of working ourselves hard and trying to speed up life. I get it. There are days where I am looking forward to seeing my growth and progress. But you still need to be pacing yourself.
Because progress will take its time.
You’re not going to get the ideal body by going to the gym a few days in a row and quitting. During those days, you’ll not see any kind of remote change at all. The only time you’ll see that change is by going to the gym consistently for a little bit every day.
The same holds true for working. You can hustle as much as you want in the day, but you’ll only see the growth gradually. So you want to be pacing yourself and focusing on what matters most.
Move The Needle
For those who feel the strain of working too much, remember to focus on the actions that’ll move the needle. Some people call it the 80/20 rule, but I find it easier to process it when you think of a needle on a speedometer.
When driving a car, what’s going to move that speedometer is of course putting more pressure on the accelerator. But how can you do that in terms of life?
You think about the actions that’ll help you build the strength to press on the gas pedal.
Working long and gruelling hours isn’t going to build that pressure. The only way it’ll move the needle is if the amount you’re getting paid per hour changes.
In 2017, Bill Gates made 4 billion dollars. When you break it down to hours, that means, Bill Gates got paid roughly $456,000 per hour. Gates has the same number of hours as we all do, the only difference is that Gates is focusing on actions that move the needle for him.
He’s put time and energy into the things that mattered most and avoided the things that didn’t benefit him the most.
In a sense, things that move the needle is pushing you to think selfishly and that’s okay. Work itself means you’re putting effort into someone else for their own benefit. Your only hope is that the work you do allows you to benefit from it as well whether that’s in the future or immediately.
Keep Working Your Best
Even if you’re putting in less hours or taking a break it doesn’t mean you’re not doing your best. There are things that take time to set up and understand. Some things require a learning curve and take some adjustments. The key is to do your best in those situations and to keep that mentality.
Working is a mind game as much as it’s a physically demanding one too.
So if you find yourself working too much, remind yourself that you are doing your best and to look around at what growth is happening. If you don’t see much after a month or so of work, think about what you can do differently.
You’d be surprised what you can do if you pause and don’t work too much.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon