As a corporate Gen-z-er, you’re primed to fall into two work-style categories: “Hustle Culture” or “Girlboss”.
Now, I’m sure these roles conjure up a certain image in your mind’s eye – overworked young people with blazers perfectly paired with their Air Maxes. An office filled with beanbags. Twenty-five-Seven work schedule, and a ‘the-hustle-never-sleeps 😤💪’ mindset. A LinkedIn profile picture taken with a Lamborghini that you saw in Kensington.
…but this doesn’t have to be the case.
“Growing up, my idea of success was a corporate, office job,” says Grace Beverly.
“Despite being about to launch my second business, when I graduated from university, I had this really frantic view that I had to get [a more traditional job],”
So, in her newest book, Working Hard, Hardly Working, Grace moves to redefine 2021's work culture, setting boundaries with both the working world and yourself.
It's a challenge Grace has had to personally overcome. At just 24, she's the founder of fitness app SHREDDY and activewear brand TALA. On top of this, she's a social media powerhouse, with more than a million followers. It's not surprising that, after almost reaching breaking point, she began to advocate for a hustle alternative.
Often, people are forced to choose between self-improvement and self-care, success or sanity, output or overwork. There's a pressure to feel productive 24/7, whilst also taking part in contradictory self-care. In her book, Grace challenges this unrealistic split, offering a fresh new take.
WH, HW instead makes its readers reflect on what they want from their life and work. The book details how to plan to reach goals, but in a way that's achievable and enjoyable. It might seem like a lofty goal, but with a few mindset and behaviour changes, it can be done.
…so, how can things change?
Well, Grace advocates for working smarter. It's all about discovering what you enjoy most, pursuing a career in it, and knowing when you have to change with the times.
The book begins with an anecdote of the author's first experience of working as a babysitter. As soon as she entered the house, everything went to $hit - quite literally. One child soiled itself, another managed to arm itself with a knife, and the dog ran out the door. So, she proves, working life isn't as rosy or predictable, as it might seem.
It's all about taking a step back, defining your idea of success, and what success means to you.
…what mindset shifts does Grace recommend?
Stepping back, stepping forward. "Sometimes productivity can be a form of self-care, and sometimes self-care is the most productive thing we can do," she says. Reducing our choice to one or the other, of work or play, can be reductive. Instead, Grace encourages readers to engage in effective self-care, and how it can help you to live, and to thrive.
Use the 2-minute Rule. This refers to David Allen's "If it takes less than two minutes, then do it now" mindset. Using this approach might mean sending an email, cleaning your desk, or even washing the dishes. It's about completing boring, mundane tasks that often play second fiddle to the bigger picture. But with these small actions, you can build productive and motivating habits.
Effective, Engaging Meetings Only. How many times have you heard the phrase "this meeting could've been an email"? Meetings can be a place where people switch on, or switch off. So make sure they are being used to their full potential. This could be as simple as preparing an agenda, to writing down questions, to just making the effort to be present.
Optimise your Habits. Grace wants her audience to optimise their habits, and reap the benefits. How can you do better, and rest better? What does hard work look like, versus smart work? An example might be to introduce focus-enhancing apps that block notifications and provide incentives for refraining, or even just turning off notifications. "The book is aiming to provide a productivity blueprint for the next generation," she says.
Upgrade the 'Work-Life Balance'. Overused and over-promoted, this phrase suggests a reductive binary. “Make non-negotiable, non-work time each weekend’ says Grace. “I put my work phone down on a Friday evening – it goes away – my emails aren’t opened, my personal phone doesn’t have email notifications, ”
If you're tired, or burnt out, you need more breaks. Grace wants her readers to make sure they give themselves the rest needed, and set realistic deadlines to avoid being overwhelmed. There's a pressure to be always working, having the hustle and the side-hustle, but this isn't sustainable long term.
Understand your Value. Most of all, it's about finding your flow, and enjoying your everyday life. Have confidence in your own ideas, take yourself seriously, and define your priorities.
‘At the beginning of lockdown, I started thinking about certain concepts that we seem to be struggling with more and more in these modern times: purpose, productivity, self-care, fulfilment, living life.
Working Hard, Hardly Working is a deep dive into some of my generation’s fears and desires and an honest and revealing look into what balance and purpose in life might look like for each of us.
I want this book to be the start of a conversation with yourself about what you really want - your fears, your dreams, your happiness and how to materialise this in your own unique way.’
- Grace Beverley