Hustle Culture Myth: Why you should be less productive

Why you should consider being 15% less productive. Hustle culture says you need to do more to be successful, but this is why we disagree.

Hustle Culture Myth: Why you should be less productive
Feel like you should be constantly grinding, inbox zeroing, and side-hustling your way to the top? Being busy = being successful, right? Wrong. We’re bombarded with messages that equate busyness with success, and feel guilty if we rest or have an unproductive day. But here's what we think: hustle culture is a myth, and real productivity looks a whole lot different.

The Relentless Pursuit of Productivity

Hustle culture trends and narratives like the ‘5-9 club’ and the ‘if you don’t have time, get up earlier’ flood our feeds. Hustle culture glorifies working long hours, sacrificing sleep, and prioritising work and productivity above all else. We can feel guilty for resting and feel like our work ethic is judged if we aren’t always online. But the notion that to succeed, one must always be "on," juggling multiple tasks, and constantly pushing the limits is flawed, and out-dated.

The side-effects of hustle culture

Hustle culture tells us the more hours we work, the better. It glorifies the all-nighters and the never-ending to-do lists. But this constant chase for "more" comes at a cost.
  • Higher levels of stress
  • Lower productivity (oh, the irony)
  • Lower creativity
  • Lower mood
Think about it: how good are your ideas when you're running on fumes? Your brain needs rest and space think clearly, and never-ending stimulation from work (or technology) contribute to these unwelcome side effects.

Re-define what productivity looks like

It’s drilled into us that we need to tick things off to be productive, but “productivity” comes in many forms that are different for each of us. Even activities often seen as leisure, like scrolling TikTok for storage hacks after a move, can be productive in the right context. Or if you’re a creative, going to a cabin in the woods to do nothing will get the creative juices flowing.
Everything you do doesn’t need a tangible outcome, and what is productive for one of us, might not be for another.

The 85% effort rule

Studies on the 85% rule suggest that we achieve peak productivity at around 85% effort. The extra 15% of our effort and productivity doesn’t result in much gain (sorry perfectionists) and giving 100% all the time can lead to more mistakes and burnout. The concept can be explained when applied to athletics - where pushing yourself to the absolute limit can lead to decreased form, wasted energy, and even injury. Dialling your effort input back slightly allows for a more relaxed state, potentially leading to better concentration and fewer mistakes.
To apply this to your everyday, try the following
  • Requirement: assess how much effort or time a task really needs before you start, then stick to it.
  • Just ship it: Don’t spend hours going over a piece of work to make it ‘perfect’. If it’s basically there, just ship it.

Productivity in work

Entrepreneur and coach, Sahil Bloom, explains there are four types of work that are equally productive. Some have physical outputs, others are necessary to facilitate creation.
  • Management (meetings, calls, discussions)
  • Creation (writing, coding, building)
  • Consumption (reading, listening, studying)
  • Ideation (brainstorming, journaling, walking)

Personal productivity

And to function properly in professional and personal life, you need to make sure you’re rested and healthy. So yes, the following things are also productive.
  • Sleep (the non-negotiable for cognitive function)
  • Playtime (playing and having fun doesn’t stop when you’re an adult)
  • Nutrition (spending time cooking or eating out)
  • Mindfulness (journaling, reading, meditation)
  • Exercise (in any form)

How to reframe your outlook on work vs play

If you feel guilty for taking an hour long lunch break, or think taking a few days off (completely offline) impacts your work ethic, you need to reframe your outlook on the relationship between productivity and rest. Here’s a few tips on how to do just that
  1. Time box: Ever feel like there just aren't enough hours in the day? Techniques like time boxing and the Pomodoro Technique can help you structure your day and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  1. Schedule in rest: Remember that your health is your most valuable asset. It's not a luxury, it's a necessity. Schedule breaks, disconnect after work, and get enough sleep. A well-rested you is a productive you.
  1. Learn to Say No: You don't have to accept every request or opportunity that comes your way. Be selective about what you commit to, ensuring it aligns with your goals and values.
  1. Quality Over Quantity: Focus on the quality of your work rather than the quantity. Invest your time and energy in tasks that have the most impact.
  1. Try deep work: You don’t need to work for endless hours to be productive. Shuffling between tabs and multi-tasking kills focus, so try only focusing on one task at a time.
Let go of the pressure to hustle. Real productivity comes from working strategically, prioritising well-being, and ditching the guilt trips about taking a break. Remember, you're not a machine – you're a human being, and thriving, not just surviving, is what matters most.

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