Who doesn’t love a good Ted Talk? For every problem you didn’t know you had, Ted has a solution. There’s nothing like a Ted Talk to make you feel both inspired and inferior at the same time.

One of their playlists, however, had me contemplating the damaging norm we are setting around Hustle Culture.

Toxic Hustle Culture has conditioned us to the idea that your engines should be firing on full productive capacity, ALWAYS. Don’t you dare take a coffee break and just drink coffee; you should be speed reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Answering a call to nature and reading the instructions on the air freshener bottle? You could have checked your to-do list.

Toxic Hustle Culture guilt-trips us to believe that a 9-5 job is for the unambitious and uninspired and “that the only value we have as human beings is our productive capability” – Aidan Harper, creator of the campaign ‘4 Day week’.

Even our home-grown Elon Musk takes aim at those who set healthy work-leisure boundaries:

Of course, you should be working hard towards what you want to achieve in life, and sometimes it requires over-time. Success, however, isn’t always restricted to one’s career, and changing the world doesn’t necessarily happen in the office.

When the hustle culture starts to dominate your life and interferes with your health, relationships, and overall happiness, it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate what success means to you.

The inevitable burnout

While you think you are being productive when you join the overachievers that leave work at nine, what you are actually doing is overdosing on Cortisol – the stress hormone. The pesky little hormone, in excess, is also responsible for a myriad of nasty conditions such as anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis.

Studies have shown that stress leads to everything BUT productivity. In fact, quite the opposite: stress leads to a lack of energy, reduced creativity, and a decrease in enthusiasm. Keep this up and eventually, you will meet the greatest productivity-killer of all time: Burn-out.

The World Health Organization describes burn-out as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed” and is characterized by energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, and of course, reduced professional efficacy.

Take control of your time

Toxic Hustle Culture is right about one thing, your time is precious. But that doesn’t mean you should be doing something society deems as important every waking moment of your day. Take some time to see family, call that friend you haven’t seen in ages, learn that skill you always wanted to learn. Did you know that boredom is the ultimate playground for creativity?


“While mind-numbing tedium is never the goal, it can often be the source of great art” – Clare Thorp

Take a break

You should be taking breaks at work. Brief mental breaks will help you stay focused, help retain information and reduce recovery time at the end of the day. Take a walk, chat with a friend or colleague, munch on something healthy. If you’re brave, you can even try doing chair yoga. Try scheduling your breaks or tea-time to avoid losing track of time.

Disconnect from work after hours

The pandemic has normalized working from home, and while we love that, the one serious downfall has been the blurred lines that separate work and personal life. We play games on the same computer that we work on, we check our email in every single room of the house, we respond to clients in our pyjamas while we’re watching Netflix.

If your bosses allow it (they should), mentally leave your work at the ‘office’ – try to limit work for office hours, don’t check your email in bed, and please don’t answer the phone when you’re having dinner with your family.

Extracurricular Activities

It is not just for the children; you too should get a hobby. In addition to it providing an outlet for stress, it can improve your self-esteem, and when done with others, improve your relationships. So, go on, tune that guitar you’ve had since high school and become a part-time rock-star.


Productivity is great, working hard is great, and if you love your job like we do at Waddle, you are bound to give it all you’ve got. We understand however, that the ‘rise and grind’ trend is more dangerous than it is helpful. We know that we can give it all we’ve got when we hit the office because when we’re at home, we make time for other things that make us happy. We value family, friends, pets, passions, the stop-and-stare-moments, the smell of rain, long walks, and extended tea times.

We think you should too.


“No one ever said on their deathbed ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office” — Harold Kushner

Reading time: 4 min read

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