What does “Never Not Working” really mean?

What does “Never Not Working” really mean?

Never not working? In this economy?

Less than two weeks after my Dad passed, I told my boss it was time to look for a replacement. I was, understandably, in a very bad place — every day was a new adventure in grief, spontaneous crying and shortened attention spans.

Instead, we worked out a solution: I would work from home, now a contractor instead of a full-time employee. This incredibly gracious gesture, which surely has a little to do with me being Good At My Job, gave me room to take on a second client.

Basically, what started as a break quickly became a double.

There is a phrase I see a lot online: “Never Not Working.” The first time I saw it, I immediately understood.

There’s a new pressure, particularly on millennials, to be constantly working. It’s a message perpetuated by coffee companies and “side-hustle” startups, seemingly needing to push the idea that we’re all:

  1. Still so broke after working a full week that we need to always be doing something that makes money,
  2. Slaves to capitalism,
  3. All of the above.

Are those things true? Maybe.

Should money be so important to you that you give up sleep, neglect your well-being and define your entire persona around work? No.

Oh, and just because you aren’t literally working all the time doesn’t mean you aren’t afflicted with “Never Not Working” syndrome.

Personally, I suffer from a bad case of “Never Not Thinking About Work.” Since my job is creative and relatively based on my personal experience, I’m constantly jotting down notes, slogans, to-do’s, and even just IDEAS FOR DOODLES in my phone.

That’s right: I don’t even have the time to doodle. I have to make myself a note of what I want to doodle later.

Here’s a small sample of my “Pretty Decent Thought Log” ToDoIst list:

I can guarantee that all of these ideas relate to some other long-winded thought, scheme or blog post I haven’t found the time (or maybe the energy?) to work on yet.

When I realized that I suffer from “Never Not Thinking About Money” syndrome, I decided to reach out to Lindsey India, a music journalist and mental health advocate.

“‘Never Not Working’ should be more of a mindset than a series of actions. That includes the ‘work’ you would put into your own self, your treatment of others, your view of the world,”  India said. “Not just your career.”

The writer blends her two passions, hip-hop and mental health awareness, on her website: LindseyIndia.com. Her insight made me think of all the times I’ve used music to encourage this mindset.


What does Never Not Working actually mean?




Hard work is important. If you can see who you’re supposed to be in your head and you’re not that person yet, you should absolutely work every day until you are.

Entrepreneurship is time-consuming. Figuring out how to turn a profit without giving up what you love is always going to be difficult, especially the more “artsy” or non-traditional that thing is.

It makes sense that musicians, writers, artists, photographers — and especially people that feel like “all of the above” —would have a never-ending obsession with work.

But please, don’t fall into the trap of feeling like you have to have everything together all of the time. It won’t motivate you and it will make you anxious. The pace that you move at, the lifestyle you lead, how quickly you can afford a Rolex — these are all arbitrary lines drawn by you.

Taking on an additional workload within a month of the saddest thing I’ve ever experienced did not blow up in my face, but it certainly could have. For me, it helps to keep my mind and hands busy. For you, it might not be that way.

No matter who you are or how much money you’ve acquired, if you can wake up in the morning, feel good about yourself and find time to dance or make stupid jokes with your friends, you win.

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