Hustle Culture for Designers

Hustle Culture for Designers

We all have our aspirations and goals in life and career.

For me, it goes from having an impact on my full-time work to helping designers via my blog, email newsletter, and other educational content.

I need to work damn hard to achieve these goals!
Making the most of every breathing hour!
Time is working against me!


Well, yes and no.

First of all, considering the very little chance you haven't heard of the Hustle Culture;
"Hustle culture is a term that refers to the belief that working long hours and pushing yourself to the limit is the key to success."

So it is about working hard. That's a good thing, right?

As with everything in life, it depends on who you are, and where you are in your life and career.

I did my share of hustling (I don't like this term btw) and it worked out well for a period of time but only because

  • I was young
  • I had the energy
  • I didn’t have any dependents
  • I didn't have many commitments
  • I had time

Now, as I'm 40 years old with a family, a full-time job and loads of responsibilities on my plate, I find it hard to hustle long nights for a long period of time. I don't even want to any more even though the current culture tries to make you feel guilty for not hustling!

"Working Smart" became my solution to my younger's self's "Working Hard" approach.

However, you need to be Smart to work smart, and you need to Work Hard to be smart.

So this is not really a choice of one or another, but more of a progression.

you work hard,
you learn what works and what doesn't,
you gain experience,
and then you transition to working smart, intentionally or otherwise.

So, how do you go about that?

If you are a 20 years old aspiring designer spending hours every day on TikTok or PlayStation, it can be good to hustle a bit and learn. Make the most of your time and energy for your growth while you have it.

Btw, I'm a firm believer in moderation. Video games, social media, Netflix are not evil! unless you spend countless hours for them every day. I enjoy my PlayStation time pretty much every day but in moderation.

If you are a 40 years old designer with kids and a full-time job, hustling long nights for a long period of time can drive you to burnout. It can affect your family life. It may be smarter to develop a better plan for growth than brut hard work.

Remember; Hustle Culture is not sustainable.

I like to characterise this as more of an Obsession than Hustle. I often obsess over things. When I do, I buy all the recommended books, I research, watch videos, practice it, and obsess over it! It usually lasts a couple of weeks or a few months. Then to the next thing.

I find this approach healthier because my drive is purely based on my interest, not any external force. It is an "I want to..." situation, not "I should do...". So burnout is less likely to happen.

When the obsession slowly goes away, I take my learnings, seal them in my skill set and move on to the next thing.

Whatever you do, please take your rest as seriously as your hustle.

In a creative field like ours, we can actually get more done by taking more breaks.

Don't worry about putting names on things like Hustle Culture and comparing yourself to how others define it, including me!

Listen to your body.
Hear your ambitions.
If you feel the fire for obsessing over anything, go for it. Spend extra hours for a while to learn while the motivation is high! It won't last long.
Don't compare yourself to others, and feel depressed. Everybody's circumstances are different.
You do You. Work hard and Work smart in your own way.