You wouldn’t believe me if I told you that I wrote 5000 words per day, every day. Seven days a week. For over a year.
There were days when I could barely keep my eyes open, but I still worked. Then, there were days when I would even forget about essential things like keeping myself hydrated or eating a healthy meal. But I still went on.
I won’t lie. I worked myself to the bone.
After I landed my first job (my “dream writing job”), I wrote day in and day out. I relentlessly churned out content, at times disregarding my mental and physical health.
In some ways, I did eventually reap the benefits of my “hustle.” However, these benefits, too, came with a hefty price. Often, I found myself juggling with more work than I could handle. Often, I contrived to the dangerous hustle culture.
So, if, like me, you believe that you’re not working hard enough, here’s what you should know:
Consistency Beats Intensity
“Inch by inch, life’s a cinch. Yard by yard, life’s hard.” — John Bytheway
I’ve always been average at most things. Maybe because I never devoted myself to a particular activity for long periods. Or perhaps, because I was too determined to achieve something significant with short outbursts of infrequent attempts.
Even with writing, I tried pulling off something similar.
Although I don’t regret putting my heart and soul into my work every single day, I do regret being short-sighted towards it. I was determined to get quick results. But little did I realize that a decade of slow, consistent investment beats a year of intense, short-lived progress.
For instance, let’s consider working out at the gym. If you’re pushing yourself to the brink of your body’s limit every single day — without getting enough rest or food to sustain yourself — you will eventually break down. Conversely, if you put yourself through short 15-minute workouts every day, you’ll reap both physical and mental benefits in the long run.
Sleep is a Priority
“I’m so good at sleeping that I could do it with my eyes closed.” — Jeremy Timothy
I think it’s funny how we often cut down on sleep just to get in a few more hours of work. Contrarily, we waste hours either scrolling through social media or bingeing on Netflix.
I have this unhealthy habit of checking my Instagram feed right before I got to sleep. By doing that, I at least burn half an hour of my sleep-time. Well, I’m working on changing this habit. You should too!
Just like work, go all-in when you’re sleeping. Commit to a healthy sleeping schedule to an extent where a home invasion does not wake you up (That’s a bit too much, but you know what I’m saying.)
Stop Sacrificing Your Weekends
On one out of seven days a week, have a strict no work rule. If you’re freelancing or running your own business, you’re free to choose which day of the week you want off. If you have a full-time corporate job, make it a priority to have your Sunday all for yourself.
A healthy balance between professional and personal life is not a choice, it is a NECESSITY.
So repeat after me: “Sundays Are My Jam.”
Now, I know that I’m writing this article on a Sunday morning. But I swear, I’ll take the rest of the day off.
Calculated Breaks = More Productivity
About a year ago, when I first started working, I was too busy to take breaks. Even worse, I took immense pride in that. There’s a common misconception that being busy and pushing ourselves past fatigue equates to productivity. However, things don’t work that way.
Calculated breaks can not only improve your productivity but can also upgrade the overall quality of your work.
The amount of break time required may vary from person to person. But according to scientific studies (The Promodoro Technique), it is ideal to take short breaks after every 25 minutes of work. Followed by a long break after four cycles of the 25-minute work limit.
Based on your goals and capabilities, you can tweak the above-mentioned cycle. Our cognitive capacities gradually decline throughout the day. So as the day progresses, you can either stretch your break time or amp up its frequency.
Apart from managing your breaks, it’s also vital to use them effectively. I’ve learned that scrolling through social media does more harm than good. It exposes your brain to a bulk of unwanted information, which clutters your mind. The goal is to find ways to declutter.
Personally, I enjoy lo-fi music, light reading, taking a walk, or just sitting still during my breaks.
There’s a Life Outside Work
This one is more like a culmination of everything I’ve mentioned above.
Strive for consistency with pretty much everything you do. Be it relationships, health, or learning something new.
On weekdays, you can devote some of your breaks to activities outside your work. On weekends, you can divide your time between several similar activities. While you’re at it, make sure that you get adequate sleep.
The rules of consistency and productivity apply to pretty much everything.
If you’re learning to play an instrument, practicing for 15-minutes, three days a week is enough.
If you want to grow stronger or look better, working out on alternate days is enough.
Balance is key.