How To Hustle Less With Mindful Productivity
If you’re fed up with the hustle culture and following unrealistic ideals to get where you want to be, then let me introduce you to a gentler alternative.
It’s called mindful productivity, a more sustainable way of working that allows you to hustle less but still get shit done.
Table of Contents
- The hustle culture
- Debunking the myths
- What is mindful productivity?
- How to apply mindful productivity to your schedule and hustle less
- 1 | Schedule in non-work related activities first
- 2 | Work when you feel most productive
- 3 | Leave a little white space in your schedule
- 4 | Don’t be afraid of saying no
- 5 | Be flexible with the outcome
- 6 | Establish a “daily best”
- 7 | Learn to take a step back when you need to
- Why I choose to follow an anti-hustle approach
- Final thoughts
The hustle culture
I’m going to jump straight into this blog post with a quote from the one only Brené Brown, as I think it really encompasses the points and ideas in today’s post.
If you’ve read a few of my blog posts you’ll know that I have a huge girl crush on Brené Brown.
I think she is exceptional and such an inspiration for anyone who is looking to cultivate a more intentional and meaningful life.
If you’re not familiar with her work I really encourage you to do some research on her. Watch her Ted Talk, listen to her podcast, Unlocking Us exclusively on Spotify and read The Gifts of Imperfection.
I swear she will change your life!
“If we want to live a wholehearted life, we have to become intentional about cultivating sleep and play, and about letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth.”
Unfortunately, society and now social media have put ideals in place, where being constantly busy and working unrealistic hours is seen as the norm and rest is seen as lazy.
Whether you are in a job, building a business or studying, we seem to follow a hustle culture where we allow productivity, appearance and money to dictate how successful we are.
And it’s easy to compare our daily achievements to others and feel a little bit inadequate.
I mean hands up if you’ve ever compared yourself to someone on the internet?
I’ve done it. I still do it.
But we need to keep remembering that our worth is not defined by our level of productivity.
Debunking the myths
Being busy 24/7 is not a badge of honour.
Productivity is not waking up at 5 am every morning to get a head start on the day before anyone else.
It’s not working unrealistic 18-hr days with zero rest.
Being productive is not overloading your to-do list.
And it’s certainly not cramming your schedule full of projects, tasks, meetings, social meet-ups, etc.
Your productivity is also not based on where you choose to work.
Being productive is also not adopting everyone else’s productivity hacks in the hope they will make you “do more.”
Productivity is not one size fits all.
It is unique to the individual.
So be mindful of the hustle culture and be aware that their version of productivity might not serve you.
There are other ways you can be productive without reaching extreme exhaustion and burnout.
And I’m about to tell you about a more sustainable way of working so you can invite more balance and play into your life.
One where you can still be productive without sacrificing your mental health and well-being.
And I like to call this mindful productivity.
What is mindful productivity?
Simply put, mindful productivity is a more sustainable way of working.
It’s being realistic with your own capabilities and only taking on what you can.
Rather than filling your to-do list to the brim and rushing from one task to the next, this type of productivity requires you to be more intentional with your tasks.
By focusing only on what is important and will help you achieve your goals.
Mindful productivity also allows you to dedicate space in your schedule to pause and breathe. To be present in the moment and reflect on what you’ve just achieved.
It’s also important to note, that mindful productivity is all about doing what works for you. Dismissing what everyone else is doing in favour of a calmer, less overwhelming day.
“By being mindful of what you can achieve in a day, doing less and using productive strategies that actually work for you, you are setting yourself up to do more in the long run as you are working sustainably and without hitting burnout.”
Notes by Thalia
How to apply mindful productivity to your schedule and hustle less
For you to truly embrace this mindful approach to productivity and hustle less, you need to put your mental and physical well-being first every single day.
And actually commit to it.
I know getting into the habit of this can be difficult at first.
Maybe you’re just starting your own business and want to dive headfirst into it. Or maybe you’ve just received a promotion and want to impress your boss. Or you have a university deadline to hit so you put in extra hours and work late into the night.
But you need to be aware that this work ethic may not be sustainable for you.
And you’ll hit burnout.
The thing is, when I overwork, stay up late and find myself rushing to finish things, I feel worse in myself. I’m more exhausted and my well-being suffers. I end up taking more self-care days than planned and fall behind on work.
And of course, the cycle of self-hate and worthlessness then begins.
But when I show up intentionally, hustle less and follow a more mindful approach to productivity, I get things done quicker. I feel happier with my progress and I enjoy the process a lot more.
I’m balancing my productivity with self-care, allowing my mind and body the rest it needs and showing up as my healthiest self every day.
And if you don’t take the time now to do the same, then you can face serious health problems in the future.
So here are a few tips to help you apply mindful productivity to your schedule and hustle less.
1 | Schedule in non-work related activities first
You need to remember that your life is more than just your business, your job or being a student.
So when you’re putting together your weekly schedule, you need to plan your non-work-related activities in first.
Write down the things you want to do, the things that make you happy and the things that will nourish your well-being.
And then organise them into your schedule before populating your calendar with work-related things.
By planning your day in this way, you instantly become more than just your to-do list.
You are allowing yourself to actually live and have fun!
Because let’s face it, when you’re lying on your deathbed are you really going to look back and be thankful for all the tasks you completed? Or are you going to look back at all the memories you created?
So schedule in those rituals that make you feel your healthiest, nourished self and motivate you for the day.
Right now, for me, that is dedicating time to sightseeing and exploring a new city.
But for you, it might be setting time aside to read or going on a walk in the morning to smell the flowers.
It can be dedicating time to a relaxing morning and evening routine so you can start and end your day on a good note.
Or taking plenty of breaks throughout the day and getting plenty of fresh air.
I also encourage you to schedule a proper lunch break and go screen-free at mealtimes.
Do not skip this step and fill your day with little moments of joy, gratitude and reflection.
It will make all the difference to your productive energy.
Want to feel inspired? Save these ideas to Pinterest
2 | Work when you feel most productive
It has taken me a while to realise that just because I don’t work the conventional 9–5 hours and choose to wake up at 9 am doesn’t mean I am not productive.
For me, productivity is simply working intentionally and efficiently towards my goals every day.
It really comes down to how you organise your time.
You need to make sure you are getting the most out of the hours you choose to work. Create a daily routine that works for you and allows you to work when you feel most productive.
I now understand that my most productive hours of the day are between 12 pm and 7 pm. This allows me to enjoy a slower morning full of joyful rituals without stress as I know that I’ll get what I need to get done within these hours.
I also change my daily routine according to the seasons and if I have a dip in mood or energy.
Sometimes I’ll work on the weekends.
But that works for me. I like having flexibility.
So use your time efficiently.
If you suffer from the afternoon slump then make sure you have gotten all of your harder tasks out of the way in the morning.
If you struggle to find the energy in the morning then start your day a bit later. And ease into the day with smaller, easier tasks.
By working during the hours where you’re most productive, you will procrastinate less on tasks and finish things quicker.
And try not to work more hours than you need to.
If you’ve finished all the tasks you set out to do that day quicker than expected, then take the rest of the day off.
Remember, put your well-being first always.
Your workload will still be there tomorrow, but your health might not be.
3 | Leave a little white space in your schedule
Don’t fill up your day with mindless tasks every single hour.
Because let’s face it, they’re probably not that important.
Instead leave gaps in your schedule in case things run over or you just fancy a break.
White space is dedicated time for you to do whatever and is essential in allowing you to pause between tasks, classes, meetings, etc.
So pencil in some white space and take the time to have a break, get some fresh air, reflect, relax and recharge.
Just maybe stay off social media.
You’ll also find that scheduling in these little moments for yourself will make the biggest difference to your mood. And you’ll feel even more prepared to continue with your workload.
Sometimes it’s the small things that mean the most.
4 | Don’t be afraid of saying no
Know your limits.
Saying NO doesn’t make you any less of a person.
In fact, it makes you more of a person as you are protecting your energy and only reserving it for things that you want to do.
Honestly, if I were to go back and relive my twenties all over again, I would set better boundaries.
But I’m making up for lost time now by being super protective and careful with where I put my energy.
Being a people pleaser can be physically and emotionally exhausting so learn to listen to your gut.
Let go of the things that no longer serve you, and do more of the things that align with your core values.
“It’s only by saying “no” that you can concentrate on the things that are really important”
5 | Be flexible with the outcome
Sometimes things don’t always go according to plan.
When setting your daily work goals and objectives it’s important to be flexible. Because when you set a goal for yourself you are automatically putting pressure on yourself to complete it.
And if you don’t reach that goal you will probably end up beating yourself up for it.
Or end up working late into the night to complete it.
So either be flexible with the outcome or set yourself an intention for the day instead.
For instance, “today, I will work as hard as I can to complete X task. If I’ve put the effort in and still don’t complete X task then I will still be pleased with my progress.”
6 | Establish a “daily best”
Some days you might wake up and feel low and blue. You might not be up to having a super productive and motivating day.
And that is completely fine.
Our emotions are powerful things and we need to learn to pay attention and accept them.
So if you are going through a particularly overwhelming or challenging time, you need to be conscious of the fact you might not be able to achieve as much as you would like.
Let’s say on a normal good day your productivity is at 90%.
But on a slow day, you need to expect that you won’t be able to give 90%.
You might only be able to give 50% or 30% or even 10%.
Give yourself grace and don’t beat yourself up if that is the case.
Productivity doesn’t have to be about what you can tick off in a day but can mean something else entirely.
It might simply look like making it out of bed in the morning and having a shower.
So at the start of each day, I encourage you to ask yourself, “what does my best look like right now?”
Be realistic and honest with yourself.
And stick to what you say.
By establishing your “daily best” you are able to reduce expectation, making your slower, “meh” days a lot more manageable.
This also prevents you from pushing yourself when your energy is already low, or you’re already exhausted. In most cases, overworking will always lead to burnout. And burnout can lead to serious health problems.
So be aware of how your mind and body feel.
If you don’t feel like you can give 100% to the day then that’s fine.
We need to learn that it’s completely normal and ok to be unproductive sometimes.
And that leads me to the last and final lesson.
“You can’t expect yourself to show up with high energy and motivation every single day. Learn to take a step back when you need to. Give yourself the time you need to rest and the space you need to heal.”
Notes by Thalia
7 | Learn to take a step back when you need to
As humans, we put so much pressure on ourselves to be productive every single day. To show up and reach our goals.
When we don’t manage to achieve those goals we beat ourselves up and that makes us feel even worse than before.
You can’t expect your performance to be the same every single day.
We go through cycles.
Some cycles are good, others are bad.
You need to learn to step back when you need to and take a break.
Slow down, take it easy and just allow yourself to be.
And while you’re there, nourish your mind and body with holistic self-care practices.
Focus on your needs and replenish the soul.
Save these tips on Pinterest for later!
Why I choose to follow an anti-hustle approach
Mindful productivity saved me from the hustle culture.
Although I’m now a well-being and self-care blogger who follows an anti-hustle approach to building a business, it didn’t start out this way.
I used to live a very fast-paced and alcohol-infused life in London.
For 6 years, I worked as a model agent in an extremely toxic and stressful environment. The job itself was practically a 24/7 role and I always had to be checking emails and be ready to reply or pick up the phone.
I was also a people-pleaser. Always saying yes to things and found it very difficult to say no to partying.
At the end of the day, I would drown my sorrows and escape through alcohol.
Of course, drinking, partying, socialising, and working weren’t sustainable and in the end, I hit burnout.
I no longer enjoyed my job and I found it difficult to get excited about things.
I also started to avoid social situations because I felt like I lacked confidence and purpose.
At the end of 2017, I finally quit my job to go travelling across South East Asia.
And although I didn’t realise it at the time, that is where my wellness journey officially began.
It’s clear that I treated my well-being like shit throughout my early to mid-twenties and I promised to never do that to myself again.
So when I started my business I had to quickly learn how to be productive in a way that aligned with me before the hustle consumed me.
Like I said earlier, it’s easy to get sucked into the unrealistic ideals on social media and compare yourself to others. But it’s up to you to change your work ethic if you’re not happy.
And for these mindful tips to truly work, you need to be open to dismissing the hustle culture and learn that productivity does not define you.
I’m beyond excited for the future of my business. But I’m also not someone who will spend every waking hour hustling and pushing myself to burnout to grow faster.
This doesn’t mean that I’m not passionate or driven enough.
It simply means that I respect and value my well-being more.
Something that has taken me a while to come to terms with.
It doesn’t always have to be hustle hustle hustle. Like I’ve illustrated above, there is another way to be productive without sacrificing your mental health and well-being.
So I encourage you to invite mindful productivity into your life, and hustle less.
And remember, just like with all my tips, what works for me, might not necessarily work for you.
I suggest testing out these methods first to see if they suit you and if they don’t, then adjust them accordingly.
And if you need any further guidance, my inbox is always open.
Until next week,
♡ Thalia xx