How to Defeat Hustle Guilt

I suffer from "hustle guilt" constantly.

For example, I've purchased *hundreds* of video games over the years, yet have played less than 1% of them.

It's not that I like wasting money, or that I don't want to play. Video games are my fav, right up there with cheese, movie theater popcorn, and peanut M&Ms (the only M&Ms anyone should ever eat).


The problem is, when I finally find time between work, family, and shuttling children to baseball, I think about projects I have to get done, books I need to finish reading, and an ever-growing to-do list. Video games suddenly feel unnecessary, so I hustle-guilt myself into doing something "productive."

Maybe it's not video games for you. But I bet it's something.

Hustle guilt is real.

The thing is, you know it's not healthy. You know you need time off. You know the feeling of burnout from working too long and too hard without rest and relaxation. But when you're trying to achieve something big, it's too easy to get myopically focused on the end goal, at the expense of your own mental health.

Luckily, I've found a few tricks helpful for people who can't seem to "turn it off."


Earn It - If you know you want to relax, play a video game, or take a vacation, write down what you have to do to earn it. Need to finish a project? Need to get to inbox zero? Whatever it is, write down how you will earn your relaxation time. Once you've earned it, you won't feel the pressure to immediately start work on something else.

Schedule It - It sounds WAY type-A, but adding relaxation time to your calendar can give you the mental queue needed to rest; especially if you make it action-oriented. If you want to play a video game, put an hour in your calendar with the title saying, "beat another level of xyz game." If you're reading a book, schedule a meeting with yourself entitled, "finish another chapter." It will help fool your hustle-oriented mindset into thinking you're being productive.


Journal It - Take out a sheet of paper and write down exactly what you are feeling. Write down that you're having trouble relaxing because you feel you should be doing xyz. Then, write down why relaxing is important to you. It will help your mind reframe why relaxing is more important than task xyz at the moment.


Get It Out - If you're just trying to chill on the beach but crap keeps coming to mind that you need to do, just add it to your todo list or calendar (after your vacation is over, of course). Getting it out of your head will help you get back to the task at hand... chilling.

Have any tricks that work for you? Write them in the comments below.

Know someone that suffers from hustle guilt (pretty much everybody in your contacts)? Share this post with them!

PS. Shout out to @mattmcleod6 for his post on hustle guilt. Not sure if you coined the term bro, but I'm saying you did from here on out :-).

About the Author


Michael Mehlberg


I help high-achieving entrepreneurs organize their brain and schedule so they can organize their life and business.

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