How To Work Smarter, Not Harder
"Hustle." It's a word that gets thrown around a LOT lately. It implies "extremely hard work." It's a word that I've grown to dislike.
I don't know if it's just me, but lately I've been getting more and more vibes that unless you're working like a crazy person, day in and day out, you're never going to be successful. Don't get me wrong, I think that starting any business will mean that you'll have to work very hard. There may well be longer days, and Sunday mornings spent writing blog posts (like I am now!), but does it need to look like that all of the time? I truly don't think so.
Whenever I'm working from a place of "hustle" (ie. mad rushing, crazy hours, you get the gist), I can guarantee you that the work I produce will be bellow my usual quality, and I would like to guess that it's the same for you too.
Don't get me wrong, deadlines are good things sometimes. They give you a target, something to work towards, and a lot of people thrive off of those deadlines. What I'm trying to say is, are you stressed in the process? Because stress is never beneficial to anyone.
According to www.mind.com, stress leads to symptoms such as aggressive behaviour, depression, the inability to experience joy, a loss of your sense of humour, a sense of dread, difficulty in making decisions, inability to concentrate and headaches. That's the short list! If you want to see the full list of symptoms, click here.
Obviously stress in a mild form is normal, and happens to everybody. But when I read the above symptoms, that doesn't equate to well produced work.
So, how do we manage? How do we find the balance between hard work and rest?
There are so many ways to work from a place of rest, but here are a few of my favourites.
1. Schedule in advance:
I'm naturally organised, so this comes easy to me, but I understand that it might not to others. That's ok, because you can learn how to become more organised but just taking a few minutes each week to schedule your week in advance.
How do I do it? I open up my diary (I use iCal), look at what I've got going on in the week ahead, and in a physical notebook, I jot down what tasks I need to get done in the week. They might be work related, or they might be personal. Whatever it is, I get it out of my head and onto paper. Then, I set out designated days and times for which those tasks will take place. Do I need to spend two hours editing one day? I'll make sure to find two hours somewhere in the week which will be dedicated to editing! If I need to pop into the doctors for something, I'll also schedule that in. This sounds really OCD, but it is the easiest way to stay on top of everything, especially when you've got a particularly busy week.
2. Schedule in "Me Time."
This is something I've only been doing for the past few months, but goodness has it made such a difference to my work/life balance already. At the beginning of each month, I'll take 5 minutes to block in hours or even days of "Me Time." These are non negotiable days where I do not book photoshoots, meetings, or anything specifically work related. They're days dedicated to me being able to do whatever I like the sound of!
3. Give Yourself Office Hours
Office hours frustrate me sometimes, because not everybody is designed to work between 9am and 5pm. Some people function best between 7am and 3pm (me!), others work really well between 6pm and 2am. Whatever your hours look like, try and give yourself a rough "time limit" of how many hours you'll work per day. Being freelance, these hours can shift and change, but that's the beauty of it - you can taylor them to your needs.
4. Give Meditation or Yoga a try
I wish I could say I'm practicing meditation daily, but I'm not there yet. I am conciously making an effort to do it more and more though, and it does help me so much. Last week, I found myself getting stressed out and emotional, so I stopped what I was doing, switched on the "Calm" app, and practiced a 5 minute meditation right at my desk. That might sound crazy, but it worked wonders. Immediately I felt more focused, calmer and like I knew exactly what I needed to do next. If you haven't tried meditation or yoga yet, please do.
So there you go, 4 ways to work from a place of calm, and not from hustle. Achieving calm within your work will lead to more benefits than you could ever imagine, and I promise you'll get far more work done as a result, whilst feeling happy all at the same time. What's not to love about that?