Forget the pandemic. The time for your magnum opus is now.
The Blogfather rain checks on a Zoom Pub Quiz to clobber so-called “hustle culture”. What place do performative workaholics and their swathes of productivity peddling minions have in a global crisis? And should you listen?
Coronavirus has brought life largely indoors. As someone more familiar with shakedowns than lockdowns, establishing the virtual-Cosa-Nostra has brought some challenges.
Days of Zoom rendezvous, home-school meltdowns, fervent hand washing and constant aching thanks to that curly-headed wise guy Wicks are starting to feel like the norm. Add in poorly-timed waves of crippling panic and jobs a good’n.
During an attempt to socially distance myself from my own household, a casual digital flick through the Twittersphere threw up this tweet from writer and musician Rosanne Cash:
My magnum opus is currently a magnum nope-us and who can I blame? Maybe Carole Baskin…
Plus, a headline from The Washington Post reading “During a pandemic, Isaac Newton had to work from home, too. He used the time wisely.”
What counts as “wisely”? What about Lou in Clydebank who’s flogging fortnight old Chicken McNuggets on eBay? Or Gary in Crewe who’s, well, eeuurgh, actually that’s gross. Never mind.
I suddenly felt bad about my 9 am star jumps and Tiger King Netflix marathon. I haven’t discovered the theory of gravity or written a timeless tragedy. My magnum opus is currently a magnum nope-us and who can I blame? Maybe Carole Baskin…
These aren’t single instances. Social media is overflowing with productivity pedlars. So-called “hustle culture” is chomping at the bit to tell you to write a book, Marie Kondo the sh*t out of your home and spend 25-minutes hand whipping a Korean coffee worthy only of a place on Instagram and in the bin (Yes, I did this. No, it wasn’t worth the carpal tunnel).
Forget about lifting spirits, lift some weights. Home gym equipment sold out on Amazon? No excuse. Pick an object, pet or person…and pick it up. Instagram beefcakes are piling on the pressure to stop you piling on the pounds. Bench press your sofa, squat your dog, renovate your garage into a state-of-the-art Crossfit colosseum. And do it now!
If losing your gains isn’t a worry. How about losing your mind at the behemoth that’s become the family group chat? Its constant stream of how-to headlines and viral challenges has only reinforced the demand to get things done.
Hustle culture is everywhere. Waxing lyrical about side hustles and multiple income sources. And it really wants you to believe you aren’t doing enough with all the “extra time” you’ve found yourself with.
As familiar as I am with making large from several shady revenue streams; it’s time to give both barrels to the idiocy of hustle culture.
It propagates the idea that you can only succeed by exerting yourself at maximum capacity at all times. Rise and grind. Everything you do must somehow be linked to productivity. Professor Bryan Robinson refers to it as “toil glamour”. Hustle culture extols that “overworking and burnout signals you’re a dedicated employee” and “it’s cool to be ‘always-on’ and push yourself to the max each of the 1,440 minutes of the day”. Even passions and hobbies should be profitable.
It’s tough enough to be productive in the best of times let alone when we’re in a global crisis.
Frankly, it can f*ck right off. And it can f*ck right off when we’re going through a global pandemic.
“It’s tough enough to be productive in the best of times let alone when we’re in a global crisis,” said Chris Bailey, author of Hyperfocus: How to Manage Your Attention in a World of Distraction.
“The idea that we have so much time available during the day now is fantastic, but these days it’s the opposite of luxury. We’re home because we have to be home, and we have much less attention because we’re living through so much.”
Needless comparisons to legendary playwrights, tips for doing more work remotely and preaching to those recently laid-off on how to capitalize on newfound time off – only reinforces the bizarre way us mere mortals are encouraged to sacrifice health for wealth.
It’s also worth noting Shakespeare didn’t find himself thrown into the role of part-time geometry teacher to his own stir-crazy scallywags.
It’s time to whack that guilty feeling because you’re not designing an app, learning to crotchet and haven’t worn jeans in 3-weeks.
I’m not sticking two fingers up to all parts of routine, productivity and work. If I was I would do so from a safe distance, of course. Working will help many of us ease anxiety and act as a worthwhile distraction during this crisis. But it’s time to whack that guilty feeling because you’re not designing an app, learning to crotchet and haven’t worn jeans in 3-weeks. We need to address our needs, take care of ourselves and not pressure each other to do anything more. It’s important to remember that Shakespeare didn’t write to be productive. He wrote because it gave his life meaning.
It was also the 1600s.
Trying, stressful and quite sh*t times demand we put health first, self-care second, banana bread making third. And leave workaholism in the wings for now.
Speaking to HuffPost, Cynthia Pong, the founder of Embrace Change, said:
“The fact that your attention is all over the place is you being empathetic and responding to what’s happening…If you weren’t, I might be a little bit concerned ... Are you not affected by what’s happening right now?’
If you need to, just do nothing.