Sustainable Productivity + Focus

3 reasons why to stop the hustle and grind + how to sustainably achieve your goals instead.

January 31, 2020

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Have you ever said to yourself “I just don’t have the time”?

It’s a common complaint I hear a lot. 

And it’s true, life can be full. 

Work commitments, kids to look after, aging parents, a household to manage, friends to keep in touch with…let alone time for exercise and just plain down time for yourself.

There’s a lot to DO.

And so it’s no wonder that our to-do lists are never done.

We also live in a culture which perpetuates this notion that being productive and doing more is better.

But is that true?


Around 4 years ago I was getting everything prepared and ready before flying off for a Barnes family Christmas gathering in Byron Bay, Australia.

In that process of winding things down so that I could be completely offline for a couple of weeks, I was running around with my to-do list trying to get everything checked off the list. 

I was also in that first trimester haze with my 3rd child which meant that morning sickness was a daily occurrence and could throw me off my game despite my best intentions and plans for the day.


It got to a point where I stopped to ask myself…

“Do I REALLY have to do all of this?”

When journalling one morning, it hit me. 

The way I was running my coaching business wasn’t sustainable. Especially if I was also going to have 3 kids. 

Without realising it (oh the power of the subconscious) I’d unintentionally recreated the constant hustle and grind I was used to in my investment-banking-culture-corporate job. 

Whilst there’s certainly a time and place to work more and go harder…doing this on a long term consistent basis without breaks and switching off, just isn’t sustainable. 

It’s actually detrimental to not just your work but the quality of your life too.

Side note: If you want the full story, you can check out the blog posts where I share the 6 lessons I learned learned navigating my heart vs head in my life and business.


If you’re struggling with your to-do list, I feel you. 

The problem isn’t you. 

The problem is the hustle and grind culture we live in and for some of us, the conscious or subconscious expectations we put on ourselves as women to “do it all.”

Siobhan Barnes - Hong Kong Integrative Life Coach Career Coach - Flat Lay Image114

If you feel like you want to do things differently and work in smarter, more sustainable ways so that you can get your life back you’re in the right place. 

In this week’s blog, we’re going to dive into the 3 gifts of giving up the hustle and grind culture and answer this key question:


“How do we sustainably achieve goals instead?”


So let’s dive into it.


The 3 gifts of saying goodbye to the hustle and grind culture + how to sustainable achieve goals instead.

Reflecting back on all that’s changed since 4 years ago, there have been so many gifts in slowing down to figure out the answer to that question:

“Do I REALLY have to do all of this?”

Everyone will have a different moment that gets them to stop and question if how they’re working is right for them. 

Maybe it’s:

  • cramming to get things done before taking a vacation/holiday
  • reaching burnout where you physically can’t keep going
  • falling ill and realising that you can’t do everything anymore
  • having to care take for others (whether that be a baby, partner or aging parents) and physically having less time
  • Something else that gets you to stop and question…
Siobhan Barnes - Hong Kong Integrative Life Coach Career Coach - Pink Decor Image13

“Do I REALLY have to do all of this?”

Whatever is happening for you right now in your life (as hard and frustrating as it may be) there’s gold, aka gifts here for you to explore. 

I’m going to share with you my personal top 3 gifts that have come from saying goodbye to the hustle and grind culture and instead honouring a slower/cyclical pace…

Let’s get to it.



Gift #1: When you slow down you start to hear your intuition which allows you to course correct more easily.

This has been the biggest gift for me. 

After that trip to Byron Bay with my family and subsequently having my 3rd child (who’s now 3 1/2 ), I’m soooo much more aligned in my business and the direction it’s heading in.

Before that trip, I was doing all the things and going through the motions. 

I’d re-created another job/slog for myself. 

And because I was on that treadmill of doing, I wasn’t slowing down to acknowledge that I wasn’t quite coaching on the things that I really wanted to. 

At the time I was helping people start a side business, negotiate a higher salary/title, land their dream jobs…

And whilst that was great…what I was craving was to help my clients find themselves and come back to who they really were before the world told them who they should be. 

Because the truth is, when you’re living in this space, your path becomes so much clearer and subsequently things fall into place…

In those moments of slowing down, my intuition told me to open up to spirituality and going deeper with my tool kit.

I was guided.

“Take this course. Try this modality. Be a student.”

I didn’t know it at the time but my intuition was guiding me to learn soul-mind-body based tools that would become the foundation of my work.

Note: If you want to hear more about my journey you can check out my blog post here where I talk about:


6 lessons learned navigating my heart callings vs. heady sensibility in my life and business


Whilst I’m a perpetual student, slowing down and aligning my path to what matters to me has meant that I:

+ Feel on purpose and lit up by the work I’m doing

+ Can access the visions of where else this work could go in future

+ Have met incredible people along the journey

+ Am able to lean into surrender and trust more

Now of course, things are not always rosy.

Life is up and down but at the heart, at the core, slowing down and letting go of the hustle has allowed me to tune into where best to go next and how to call in the right support and action steps to get me there.

In a nutshell: Because I’m learning to slow down, I’m working on what really matters and taking the time to do the things that will help me achieve my soul-aligned goals.



Gift #2: You become crystal clear on your priorities and what you need to focus on

When you ask that question:

“Do I REALLY have to do all of this?”

You’ll look at your to-do list in different ways and realise that not everything on there has to be done right now.  

Taking your to-do list to one side, let me ask you:

What is most important for you in this season of your life?

Siobhan Barnes - Hong Kong Integrative Life Coach Career Coach - Flat Lay Image123

When I say season, that may be for this week, this quarter, this year…you get to choose your time period. 

What is MOST important at this time in your life?

Is it:

+ A key project at work

+ Getting back into your health routine

+ Spending more time with your kids

+ Figuring out how you can switch into a different career

Take a moment to check in with yourself and set your top priority for this season (OK maximum 3 for you over-achievers who can’t choose just one thing)

Now relook at your to-do list and see if those items on there are aligned to those priorities? 

You can either:

Delete them: scratch them off your list for good 

Delegate them: assign that task to someone who can help you

Delay them: put them on a holding list for your next season/priority 

Do them: either do them right now or schedule a time in your diary to do them

As an example, if your priority is getting back into a health routine for the next month and set up some good habits from here on in.

You may decide to…

  • Delete: The book club your friend asked you go join 
  • Delegate: Ask someone to take the kids whilst you head to yoga on a Saturday
  • Delay: Say no to those extra social engagements so you can get to bed earlier and eat at home – just for this month
  • Do: Schedule time in your diary to exercise 3 times a week 


Getting laser focused on your priorities for the season can help you to keep your to-do list on point so that you can hit your goals. 

When a new season is coming up you simply shift your priorities and get to those other to-do’s.



Gift #3: You work smarter, not harder = sustainability in the long run

When you start to see that slowing down has its benefits (which I’m hoping this article is helping you to see)…you’re able to trust that you can still move forward toward your goals but in a way that’s more nourishing, sustainable and enjoyable. 

Because after all, isn’t that the point?

Yes we’re here to work and work towards our goals. But we’re also here to enjoy life along the way. 

Slowing down and learning more, as my intuition guided me to do (Gift #1), I’ve learned more about how to embrace our natural cycles to work with our bodies instead of against them. 

As women we have a natural cycle that we work through in any given month and biologically our bodies aren’t designed to always be in go-go-go mode all the time. 

Learning how to honour my cycle has enabled me to work more productively. 

In learning about my cycle, I now, wherever possible, make the most of those times when I have more energy and feel more outward facing and reaping the benefits of those quieter more reflective times. 

If you want to learn more about how to work with your own cycle (whether you think this applies to you or not), you can check out this article:


[How To Work With Your Period]


Learning to honour your body’s limits and needs (when it’s time to go and when it’s time to rest) is critical to ensure that your working in sustainable ways that don’t deplete or drain you.

Siobhan Barnes - Hong Kong Life Coach Career Coach - Coffee Shop White Image 2

So there you have it…..the 3 gifts of saying goodbye to the hustle and grind and how to sustainably achieve goals instead.

Let’s recap:

Gift #1: When you slow down you start to hear your intuition and course correct along the way

Gift #2: You become crystal clear on your priorities and what you need to focus on

Gift #3: You work smarter, not harder = sustainability in the long run

Now I’d love to hear from you:

+ Will you give this different approach to life a try?

+ Which gift is most intriguing to you?

Leave a comment and let me know below! I’d love to know. 

Remember you’re here for a reason — beyond merely surviving and getting through that to-do list. 

With love,

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