When you picture someone successful, you might think that they're constantly productive. Maybe they work a ton of hours per week or perhaps they've hacked their life to be as efficient as possible. You might wonder why you always seem to get distracted or lose motivation. How are they able to do what they do?
Well, things aren't necessarily as they seem. Just like blood sugar, the US economy, and famous empires, productivity tends to rise and fall, constantly in flux as if attached to a pendulum. It's certainly possible to increase your productivity, like skewing a normal distribution curve. But no one, no one, is constantly productive all of the time.
"Hustle culture", though occasionally necessary, has created a false perception of productivity. In fact, it's a major contributor to imposter syndrome, burnout, and skewed value systems. Suddenly, you feel that you don't deserve your job if you're not working 60+ hours per week. As a result, you attempt to work more and more and more until you inevitably burn out. And during that escalation of work hours, you've put things like friends, family, and community on hold, slowly forgetting what really matters and creating a value system that solely focuses on your career or income. I implore you to drop that mindset.
There will be times when hustling is really needed, and the fact that hard work pays off will always be true. Maybe your workplace is going through a reorganization, someone needs their shifts covered to attend to family, or an important deadline is coming up that you simply can't miss. These are cases where it makes sense to go all out, knowing that it's for a set period of time. Hard times will eventually pass, and it's crucial that you survive to see the light on the other side.
Still, it's important to realize if you've pushed things too far. If your spouse or kids say that they never see you anymore, you should listen. If you find that you hardly have enough energy to go to work the next day or dread working altogether, take that as a sign. If you're starting to burn out, it's important that you take a step back, especially if productivity is the goal! Just like prepping to run a marathon, it's important to have a "deload" or down week if you want to perform your best on race day. Work is no different.
So, go out there and work hard to achieve your goals. Hustle when it makes sense to hustle, and it will probably pay off. Just do yourself a favor in the long run and know that an occasional pump of the breaks will allow you to travel much further. As long as you maintain your trajectory through the ups and downs, you'll get to where you need to be.