I talk a whole lot about navigating different creative seasons, from seasons of rest, to seasons of hustle, and even seasons of struggle from time to time too.
We embrace a season of hustle for many reasons - we want to reach new goals, we want to challenge ourselves, and a lot of the time it’s because that’s just what our work and our life needs from us right now.
So what exactly is an intentional season of hustle?
An intentional season of hustle means you're making things happen on your own terms - it’s choosing to “hustle it out” in a way that feels good, that is productive and proactive, and fulfilling and meaningful too. An intentional season of hustle means you decide how, why, and when you’ll hustle it out - and it embraces the fact that rest, reflection, and time to recharge and live a little is needed if you want to truly make things happen along the way.
If you’re in a season of hustle right now, I have a survival guide just for you. After navigating my own seasons of hustle so I could get my business off the ground and up and running in a way that works best for me, and supporting my clients to make things happen in their creative lives and bridge the gap between where they are now and where they want to be, below are some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned along the way so far for how to hustle it out while still enjoying the hustle, your work, and your life too.
Step 1: Define your season + goals
Hustling for the sake of it usually gets us nowhere fast - it’s through having a set vision, core goals, and a direction to stay focused on that keeps us moving forward along the way. Things to ask yourself and explore are:
- What do I want to achieve in this season of hustle?
- What’s the why behind my goals for this season? What’s fuelling the energy behind this season of hustle?
- What are the things in my work and life that I want to prioritise in this season?
- What non-negotiables do I want to hold myself accountable to in this season?
- How do I want to feel as I navigate this season of hustle?
Step 2: Take control of your workload
Seasons of hustle usually take a whole lot of focus, routine, discipline, and organisation to make work. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed by our workload or feel like we have no idea where to really start. To make it through, feeling in control and on top of your workload is key. Steps worth exploring each month are:
Write a master to-do list
What is everything that needs doing this month? Break it down by project or area of your business. See it in front of you so you can tackle it head on. The secret here, I’ve found, is to be very selective on what you put on your master to-do list. To truly hustle intentionally, we have to be brave enough to focus solely on the most essential work - and then to remove or delegate the rest.
Break it down week-by-week, day-by-day
As much as I crave flexibility, I know routine and structure is necessary if I really want to make it happen in my business. Staying focused, tapping into my productivity, and ticking all those essential to-do’s of my list is only consistently doable for me if I give each week and day a focus and stick to it. Batching tasks out over specific days, spreading out my workload over the week and month, and getting laser-focused each work day helps me to reach those bigger goals each season. Deciding on how you’re going to break down all your work tasks into the days and time you have available to work is how you turn a goal into a reality.
When you get off track, go back to your plan
It’s so easy to get distracted - our brains are not machines, we can’t expect them to stay completely focused every single day. Once you’ve set up a plan for yourself you can then keep going back to it whenever you lose focus and clarity - it’s like leaving breadcrumbs for yourself so you waste less time feeling stuck and lost. Be okay with evolving the plan whenever you feel necessary too - sometimes additional clarity and new and better ideas come to us as we go.
Step 3: Make your daily grind joyful
Just because you’re hustling it out, it doesn’t mean your daily grind still can’t feel just that little bit dreamy. Nothing makes me lose momentum more than feeling stuck, or bored, or uninspired in my daily routine. Some of the simple things I do to make my daily grind that little bit more joyful when in a season of hustle are:
- Work from a coffee shop when possible to break up my routine (if I have lots of meetings or time is sparse I will try and still just nip into one for a little human interaction and change of scenery or even just go for a 10 minute walk outside)
- Carve out quiet time in the morning just for me
- Have something to look forward to each week - whether it’s dinner with a friend, a day out, or even something as simple as having a new book to read
- Have a switch off point every single day that I honour
- Eat foods that fuel me instead of leaving me feeling bloated and sluggish
Things to explore for how to make your own daily grind joyful are:
- What are your essential non-negotiables that you need for a happy, productive, and healthy workday?
- How can you make your workdays flow more easily so you have more space for fun and joy throughout the day?
- How do you want to feel each workday? How can you make space for this in your routine?
Step 4: Overcome burnout whenever it starts to creep up
Here’s the thing, even with all the self-care and intention in the world, when we’re working hard and pushing ourselves it’s natural to feel tired and challenged and stretched along the way. A big lesson I’ve learned so far in my business is that it’s okay to feel drained and tired after a hard days work - we’re trading our energy for the work that is important and meaningful to us, it’s natural that we feel the effects of that. It’s when normal levels of tiredness tip over into constant exhaustion, burnout, and stress that we have to worry.
It’s okay to need a break at the end of a season of hustle. It’s okay to have to make some tough decisions and trade-offs while making big things happen - that’s just the reality of balancing work and life over a lifetime. But to stay healthy, focused, and productive in the middle of our seasons of hustle we have to take care of ourselves and work within a sustainable routine that enables us to thrive. So when you start to feel a little too stretched, or like exhaustion is creeping in, consider:
- Can you take a mini break from the go-go-go of the hustle to recharge and recover?
- Does your routine, schedule, and current pace need readjusting to be sustainable in the long run?
- How can you build in more health-care and self-care into your day-to-day routine?
- Are you showing yourself the patience and grace you need to maintain your hustle and output without burning yourself into the ground?
If I’ve learned anything, it’s this: the hustle isn’t worth it if we have to compromise our core self and essential needs in the process. You can make things happen on your own terms, never be afraid to question the “rules”, experiment with and adjust and tweak your routine and, ultimately, hustle it out in a way that works best for you. Stay focused, stay healthy, and keep on doing the awesome work you’re doing in the world.
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