Why I Hate the Hustle (& Other Thoughts on Being Busy)

I did a dangerous thing the other day. I watched a documentary on Netflix.

I call it dangerous, because once I’ve been challenged about something – an action, a thought, a lifestyle – I find it very difficult to forget about it until I’ve processed my motivations, my fears and my opinions on the matter. And this documentary challenged the hell out of me.

It’s called Minimalism.

Why I Hate the Hustle (& Other Thoughts on Being Busy)

I highly recommend it. A friend suggested the documentary to me, and as minimalism is something I’m already interested in, I was keen to check it out.

What surprised me the most was that it was about more than just giving up stuff. It was about that, but it was people’s reasons for giving up their stuff that was fascinating.

By giving up things, people were gaining freedom from soulless jobs, more control over their finances…and time.

Why I Hate the Hustle (& Other Thoughts on Being Busy)

Time is a topic I think about a lot.

I hate the idea of wasting time, of idling away my precious moments in front of the TV, or sitting at a desk doing something I don’t care about, or worrying about things that may or may not happen.

And I despise the concept, one that’s growing ever more popular, that any time not spent in frantic busyness is wasted.

I saw a quote some time ago, and it resonated with me in a way that stops me in my tracks every time I find my schedule booking up, or my stomach clenching from stress, or my evenings becoming filled with quantity rather than quality.

Why I Hate the Hustle (& Other Thoughts on Being Busy)

When did being busy become the goal? And what has us so convinced that filling our time makes us more fulfilled?

I used to believe that. I also used to love the word hustle.

When I first began freelancing, I was doing it as a so-called side hustle. I loved the term. It made me feel like the work I was doing on top of my full-time job was legitimate, like it wasn’t just a hobby.

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Then, when I quit my day job and began doing social media consulting and copywriting full time, the word hustle motivated me to keep going. It was something of a rallying cry, a way to spur me on to do what needed to be done to pay the rent, to succeed, to not fail at this huge risk I’d just taken.

Why I Hate the Hustle (& Other Thoughts on Being Busy)

But that’s when I started seeing something creeping into Facebook groups and Twitter threads and Instagram posts and Pinterest quotes. Things like¬†If you rest, you rust. Or Nobody cares. Work harder. Or worse,¬†I’ve got a dream that’s worth more than my sleep.

I get it. I really do. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to succeed. Being a hard worker is a great quality to have, and nothing grinds my gears more than laziness.

There are times in life when you do have to do more, and work harder, and sleep less and leave longer gaps between rest. But that pace isn’t sustainable. And it shouldn’t be what we aim for.

The hustle is a means to an end. It’s not the end itself.

Why I Hate the Hustle (& Other Thoughts on Being Busy)

The hustle is a means to an end. It's not the end itself. Click To Tweet

After watching Minimalism I’ve been inspired. Not to stop working, or to give up clients, or to hit the brakes on my writing. But to take stock of my time, in the same way that I take stock of my finances.

I only have a finite amount of time each day, week, and month. What am I spending it on? Is it in pursuit of things that have long-term meaning, or am I being busy for the sake of it?

I don’t know the answers.

There’s every chance I’ll slip into old habits, but I want to try. To make an effort to make my moments count. To enjoy working, and get satisfaction from it, because I spend so much of my time doing it. To look away from my phone and engage in real conversations. To rest. To create, just for the sake of it. To minimise.

And to stop the damn hustle.

Have you watched Minimalism? What did you think?

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10 Comments

  • Ali says:

    This is so relevant to me right now as I’m in the middle of the ‘hustle’ of moving from my employment into freelance work and I’m busy every hour – but I definitely don’t think it’s sustainable long term. I’m all for slowing down and having time to think and just be – hope I can get that in my new life! It reminds me of plays I studied about the American dream, where characters die and no-one really cares and their life seems meaningless – too much working and not enough of appreciating the world and people around them. I must check out the documentary – thanks for the recommendation :)

    • Elle Croft says:

      Well, that’s exciting! Yep, moving into freelancing is certainly a busy season, but I think as long as you treat it as just that – a season – you won’t fall into the trap of trying to maintain the ‘hustle’ indefinitely! Do you remember the name of the play you studied? It sounds fascinating – and a bit depressing!! All the best with your move into freelancing!

  • Lucy says:

    COMPLETELY AGREE! I used to feel the same way about hustling….it used to motivate me or, at least, I thought it did. Then I started to hate it and wonder why I’d given up my crappy office job to recreate it inside my own flat! I finally gave myself permission to have seasons of rest after coaching with Jen Carrington and I’m so much happier! There’s a time for ‘hustle’, and a time for rest and one shouldn’t negate the other. L xx

    • Elle Croft says:

      Absolutely! I don’t think that one is right and the other is wrong, it’s just when we start to idolise one and neglect the other that it becomes a problem (either way, really). I think giving yourself permission to do things that could seem wrong is such a powerful thing! So glad you’ve managed it xxx

  • Sara says:

    Hey, I watched that documentary a few months back and had a similar feelings. It has really changed how I look at things and especially because I am currently long term travelling it has helped me a lot and I know when I get home I’m going to continue the “minimalist life”. They also have a podcast which is well worth a listen. So glad this was such a big impact on you as well!

    • Elle Croft says:

      Hey Sara, thanks so much for your comment. Did you find that after the documentary your way of travelling changed at all? I’m really curious to learn how other people are applying the principle of minimalism to their lives! Thanks for the podcast recommendation – I’ve just downloaded a few episodes so I’ll give them a listen soon! x

  • This sounds like such an interesting documentary, I must watch it! The ‘busyness’ syndrome is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, it’s as though we feel guilty if we don’t spend every second of our time doing something! Taking stock of your time sounds like a good idea, I might do the same :)

    • Elle Croft says:

      YES – that guilt, it’s crazy, isn’t it? It’s like we feel like productivity should be 24/7, when really, only truly resting allows proper productivity. I hope you manage to watch it – let me know what you think!!

  • Simone says:

    I have been watching a lot of YouTube videos on minimalism lately as well as the documentary. I am very slowly transitioning into a life with less stuff (I am certainly not throwing away all of my 150 pairs of shoes at once!). My favorite aspect is the idea of being mindful of what you have and what you bring into your life.
    I also say “no” more often. If I really don’t want to go to an event, I will simply decline.
    There’s this other cheesy meme “Do more of what makes you happy” and it also goes the other way – do less of what makes you unhappy.
    Maybe it also has to do with getting older – I don’t feel anymore like I need to do things just to impress other people.

    • Elle Croft says:

      Oooh, do you have any YouTube channel recommendations? I’d love to check some out. I love the idea of just saying no when you know it’s not going to benefit you. Of course, there are some things in life we always have to do even if it makes us unhappy (the dentist!) but learning to politely decline is an amazing life skill and I bet it makes a huge difference.
      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment! x

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