The hustle and the grind

15 July 2017 | Compass of Design

Darian Rosebrook

7 min read

The hustle and the grind

Like the tortoise and the haire, but told in a way that actually helps you move

forward and not burn out in a year

Tell me if this sounds familiar

(if it’s not, let me know. I’m curious how your schedule works.)

  • Wake up ~ 4–5am
  • Eat breakfast and have coffee
  • Work on side project stuff until 7:45 and get ready for work
  • 8:30 show up at work
  • Mentally check out around 11am
  • Work on side project stuff during your 1hr lunch (and eat. come on guys, I’m really not a robot)
  • get back to work and leave at 6pm
  • get home, spend time with the wife and child until bedtime ~9pm
  • work until you pass out at your desk.

This was my basic schedule for my first year in design. I had Tuesdays and Sundays to rest, but it wasn’t super healthy. After almost 1 year straight of this, I burned out. I was done.

I thought about quitting design, my last effort I had to do something great for my family before I give up to work my “regular job” like my family raised me to do. You know, the kind of day job that supposedly gives you $20 an hour and a pension for working 35 years straight, along with side bonuses and profit sharing, 2 weeks paid time off with insurance and family leave?

Yeah, that one only gave me $11/hr, denied a raise higher than $0.25/yr, even denied promotion for almost 5 years because I was unwilling to force customers to get products they didn’t want or need. I don’t know which sounded more like a pipe dream, a successful “day job” or going into business for myself as a designer.

I actually do love my parents, but this was all too fitting of my early upbringing.

Constantly, I evaluate my goals and gauge if I am doing them because I wanted to, I needed to, or it was just what sounded nice to be doing. During my earlier part of my design career, I didn’t have people around me where I felt understood or that could truly could help support me and figure out what to do.

If I was going to make it and do something worthwhile in my life, it was entirely up to me.I know that I have potential, I know I have the work ethic to get things done, I know that there are people counting on me to start growing up and doing good work.

It was just going to take a lot of hard work and determination to grind my own path towards my future.

The grind

The tortoise that keeps haulin’ it’s little legs to keep moving forward

Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

The grind is the starting point of everything you do when you get a new venture going on.

You believe that every hour that you aren’t working, you are losing money. So what do you do? You fill all of your available time, outside of work or family, to get started on your side projects. You might have been conditioned for a very long time that you are paid by the hour and so every hour has to be filled with work.You are solely capable of doing everything yourself and getting things done during this time.

The grind creates routine, you wake up early or stay up late, you start pounding away at the task list and achieve a lot. This is how everyone starts, by building up what they have with their own two hands.

For me things started getting difficult when I couldn’t get more work done in my available time. So I had to work harder. I started waking up early *AND *staying up late to get things done. I effectively doubled my output. So I started taking on more responsibilities and taking on more design work outside of my job to get things rolling. I started design challenges and effectively put myself in another routine.

This can be immensely hard to escape from. You’re effectively using all the time you have available without any regards to how long you can keep this up or if it’s really being effective. But this is how you started, so if your goals and needs change, maybe it’s time for you to change.

The hustle

Like the tortoise if you gave it a boosted-board instead of using stumpy little legs

The hustle is sometimes seen as synonymous to “the grind.” These two terms are actually quite different things.

As we continue down our journey, we tend to somehow figure out that the way we are grinding away at our task list isn’t working out very well for us. We need to figure out how to do more with what we have. This can be very difficult to see as you start out, but as you grow through your journey, you start to realize there are things you could do if you didn’t have to spend that time doing something somewhere else.

You have to work smarter, not harder.Working smart means taking account of the things you are currently doing and measuring their effectiveness of reaching your goals.I had to do this with the way that I’m currently spending time with things in my business.

Areas where I was spending all my time doing one task repeatedly (like setting up grids in Photoshop/Illustrator, creating title cards for my newsletter, new client onboarding, countless other things) were bottle-necking how effective I could be at getting more effective tasks done, (like client work, onboarding new community members, creating new products).

Eventually you can get to a point where you are able to delegate tasks to others or even hire other companies or services/software to do things that your time is better spent not doing.

Where are you?

At the end of the day, are you doing everything you can to get the work done that you need to?

Both the hustle and the grind have their application in your life. You start with the first and move on to the second. As you start to grow or if you start to level out, burn out, or feel like quitting, spend some time evaluating your routine and if you are working harder not smarter.

Are you in the hustle or are you in the grind?


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Darian Rosebrook

Brand Consultant at @itssomagnetic, running designer network at @compassofdesign I ate a whole large dominos pizza by myself once. 🍕

Compass of Design

Curated design articles for self-starting designers.

This is really about priorities and doing what is more important first. It’s fine if you have helpers, but if you don’t you really have no choice but to do everything yourself but prioritized by importance.

Perhaps you can hire ppl to do stuff around the house and that will free up your time. I’m more a self-fixer but I know my limits and will find help for bigger tasks.

This is true. For me, it’s really easy to procrastinate even when I do get up early/stay late. Starting to implement “focus cards” that keep me on task.

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