How (Not) to be Productive this Fall: The Harm of Hustle Culture

Posted on by Isabelle Brown

There are many misconceptions about productivity, ambition, and work ethic out there. “Hustle culture” tells people of all ages that in order to reach success, work has to be priority #1.  

This ideal of putting work above all else minimizes the importance of balance, mental health, socialization, and most importantly, rest. Over the years, conversations around the phrase “Rise and grind” pop up on social media that shame those who aren’t chasing overtime or working extreme hours. This way of thinking promotes and glorifies being a workaholic. 

For jobs that are mentally draining like customer service, healthcare, education, art, food service, and so many more, this mindset can be damaging. For people whose work requires physical labor, it can be dangerous to push yourself for the sake of “hustling.” 

Plot Twist: You CAN Work too Hard 

There comes a great sense of pride and accomplishment from working hard. Being self-sufficient and striving for professional success are admirable. However, there is a harmful side to the beliefs that hustle culture instill in people. Rest is equated to laziness. Boundaries are seen as weaknesses. Our workplace provides our team with a middle ground that celebrates ambition while supporting the importance of work-life balance.  

It’s great to receive advice on how to be your best self professionally, but some insight that seems harmless can actually be sending a toxic message. Some of the potentially harmful advice you may see from the “Grind never stops” crowd includes: 

  1. Never say no.
  2. Work early mornings and late nights. 
  3. Don’t lose any time that you could be working. Blend work with free time by multitasking.
  4. Work alone to optimize focus.
  5. Network, network, network.  


Reshaping the Daily Grind 

This September, let’s fall out of line with hustle culture. Here are some methods to keep in mind to avoid burnout: 

  • Say yes to good opportunities and no to ones that won’t serve you. When you are asked to do something at work within your position, say yes. If a task could be completed more efficiently by someone else, with a different method, or with a team approach, express this. 
  • Work the hours that work for your life. If you are offered an overtime shift and feel up to taking it, that’s great! If you would rather spend time catching up on chores, hanging out with friends, or doing absolutely nothing, then absolutely do so. Set boundaries that allow you to do your best work while on the clock. Also: Use your PTO.  
  • No more multitasking. Part of productivity at work and avoiding burnout is protecting your personal time. Truthfully, we do our best work when we focus on one task fully, no matter what members of hustle culture say about multitasking. No more answering work emails while watching your evening TV show. Work is work, home is home, and both are important. 
  • Ask for help when you need it. Not every task at work is better alone. Even working silently next to someone can boost creativity and motivation. In our office setting, we find ourselves working this way often. Everyone needs different environments to focus, and isolation is not always the answer. 
  • Not every work relationship has to be a networking opportunity. Treating the people you work with like a stepping stone toward your professional future can make you come off as disingenuous. Appreciate your peers. Learn from your supervisors. Let networking occur naturally in the workplace. 

Unlearning Hustle Culture 

Work is something we all do, and we are bound to talk about it. Hustle culture has unfortunately snuck into the spotlight of many social media conversations. There is so much pressure for young people to be successful when everyone chronicles their daily achievements online and credits their success to “the grind.” If someone you follow on Instagram is posting before 8 AM, you're likely to see #riseandgrind in the caption.  

It’s important for workplaces and individuals to combat this way of thinking by making healthy work-life balance the norm. Get all 8 hours of sleep. Close your laptop at 5 PM. Put up an automatic away message when you’re taking time off. Carpool to work with your favorite coworker to ease stress.  


If you are having trouble within your work environment, there are resources available that can help. Tell someone at work or home that you trust, go to your HR department, and take advantage of any employee assistance programs that fit your needs. 

Work hard and smart by prioritizing yourself!