Grace Beverley, founder of fitness brands TALA and Shreddy, recently posted to her one million Instagram followers asking the question “Do you think announcement culture exists?” In her own words, she explained that announcement culture is that ever-growing need to announce everything we’re doing, resulting in the perpetuation of our anxiety over having something to announce in the first place. She brings up the point of “announceable” goals and our tendency to judge our success and that of others on the quantity of announcements made rather than quality. We can all relate to the validation we get from ticking off something on our to-do lists, as well as our human need for instant gratification, which is one of Instagram’s more attractive qualities. Still, Beverley suggests that this can make us prioritise easy work over actual profound progress.
Grace Beverley recently became a Sunday Times #1 bestseller with her book Working Hard, Hardly Working, which she describes as a productivity blueprint to show how to actively work hard. Beverley initially launched her fitness app Shreddy in her first year of Oxford University while maintaining a social media presence. She then launched her second business TALA two years ago, a month before taking her final exams, which has since made over £10 million, selling sustainable and affordable fitness clothes. Winner of London’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Beverley is only 24 years old and has made it onto Forbes “30 Under 30 – Retail and eCommerce” list. Beverley’s book covers how to maximise productivity, minimise burnout and teaching yourself to rest, which are very appropriate to present pandemic life.
“While technology had already forced work life to begin merging with home life, making it challenging to build boundaries, since the onset of the pandemic, boundaries between work and home life become even more blurred than before.”
Beverley talks of internalising this idea that we need to be working all the time. Hustle culture is the unhealthy societal standard that means you can only succeed if you exert yourself to the fullest, devoting all and any time to working. Working from home can make people feel unproductive. They can often overcompensate with working too hard for longer hours than they would have when working in an office, causing people to miss early signs of stress and lead them to burnout. While burnout isn’t a clinical diagnosis, it is a well-known concept, with symptoms being an increase in anxiety, low mood, difficulty coping, and health issues. Psychotherapist and author, Owen O’Kane, say that “bedrooms, kitchens and garden sheds have fast become the office space of 2020, and the situation has been aggravated with school closures leaving many people juggling work, childcare and everyday chores all at the same time.” He states that “For many it’s been a recipe for a meltdown in lockdown.” Signs that someone may be suffering from burnout when working from home is a change in moods and sleep pattern, an increase in anxiety and unhealthy habits, withdrawal from everyday life and physical health changes. Beverley points out in her book that “people see this extra time from lockdown as a time to be working, but we should use it to be a human and just do human things.“
In early April, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar signed the Code of Practice on Right to Disconnect. The Right to Disconnect allows employees to switch off from work outside of regular working hours, which includes the right to not respond immediately to emails, phone calls or other messages. The three rights enshrined in the code are the right of an employee not to have to perform work outside their regular working hours routinely, the right not to be penalised for refusing to attend to work matters outside of regular working hours, and the duty to respect another person’s right to disconnect. The new code hopes to strike a better work-life balance for employees and to allow them to switch off outside of normal work hours no matter what their job is. Leo Varadkar stated that “it offers an opportunity to make permanent changes for the better, whether that’s working more from home, having more time with the family, or more flexible working hours.”
Grace Beverley says that to manage our work-life balance efficiently, we need to know ourselves well. “From my personal experience, to manage time successfully, you need a method – how to work out what to do first, where the important things go, how to stay sane. It needs to become second nature, so that the instant you start to feel that wave coming, you automatically step back and figure it out so you can surf it rather than be pulled under.” She says there is “a new view that you have to absolutely love every second of your work, but you can actually just be really good at getting the work done, do really well at that, and enjoy all the other things in your life, too.”
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This article was supported by: STAND Opinion Editor Olivia + Programme Assistant Rachel