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Entrepreneurial Lifestyle

Why Hustling is Hurting your Business

It is incredibly easy to get on the hamster wheel and work yourself quite literally to death.

We’ve glorified “hustling.” So many famous entrepreneurs talk endlessly about it. #HustlePorn or its close cousin, #struggleporn, is all over social media. It is always along the same lines: you need to keep hustling and work more than your competitors.

In his book, Ask GaryVee, Gary Vaynerchuk writes, “Work more. Whatever it is you’re doing, add a few more hours of hustle. It’s the greatest way to shore up the gap between you and a bigger competitor. I promise you, Goliath will never work as hard as you.”

There’s an element of truth to that. You won’t accomplish big things if you never put in any work.  However, working hard just for the sake of working hard isn’t the answer either.

Humans aren’t wired to work sixteen-hour days back-to-back like you see Gary doing in his DailyVee videos. We need some downtime to recharge our minds, bodies, and creativity.

In this article, we’ll share four reasons why glorifying hustling—be it for yourself or your employees—is doing more damage than good.

Your Productivity Decreases Significantly after 50 Hours of Work

There’s a big difference between hard work and hustling. You can work hard, be insanely productive, generate positive results and be home for dinner at 5:30 pm. Hustling is taking hard work to the extreme, often focusing on inputs at the direct expense of results.

Bragging on your Instagram account about working 80-hour weeks, all-nighters at the office, and missing out on family and friend events all because you’re too busy hustling shouldn’t be worn as some sort of badge of honor. There’s nothing cool about being so busy that you are essentially going through life on autopilot. Instead, it should be an indication that something is severely broken.

Hedgehog's friends ignoring him

For every person like Elon Musk and Gary Vaynerchuk who work long hours, there are countless examples of other multimillionaires who run giant corporations that work 35-50 hours per week, eat dinner with their families most nights and enjoy their kids’ soccer games and ballet recitals.

Working more hours doesn’t mean that you are being effective or generating more results.

In fact, researchers conducted a study where some employees worked 80 hours a week, and others just pretended to. There was no noticeable difference in their overall productivity. However, the overworked employees had a harder time making decisions, reading their colleagues’ facial expressions, and managing their emotions.  

Your Creativity and Problem-Solving Skills Will Suffer

When you are living your life in 15-minute increments, busily going from one task to the next, you are robbing yourself of the creativity, free time, and serendipity where the best ideas usually originate.

Hedgehog's head spinning from overwork

The best ideas don’t strike at your desk. They happen when you give yourself time to step away from the day to day grind such as:

  • On a spontaneous road trip or weekend getaway
  • Grabbing a drink with friends that you have blown off week after week.
  • Spending an entire weekend binge-watching an entire season of a TV show on Netflix.
  • Taking a walk around the block.

A funny thing happens when you accept that it’s okay not to be hustling all the time. You wind up working smarter, being more productive, creative, and happier.

Your Relationships Can Become Strained

If you are finding yourself working 80+ hours a week regularly, there’s a good chance you are not seeing your friends and family as much as you should. You may even miss important events and milestones such as weddings, birthday parties, graduations, etc. Over time, these relationships can become strained or disappear entirely.

You may find that the sacrifices you made weren’t worth the real relationship costs. After all, what good is having a ton of money and prestige if you barely know your wife (or husband) and kids?

The Real Dangers of Burnout

If you neglect your physical, mental and emotional health for too long, you are going to burn out and rob yourself of future successes. The consequences of overworking are dire and can even kill you. That’s not an exaggeration.

The biggest danger is sleep deprivation. Most people need between 7-9 hours of sleep every night. If you are consistently getting 4-6 hours of sleep, you are chronically sleep deprived. This can lead to all kinds of health issues from high blood pressure, exhaustion, decreased sex drive, and obesity to diabetes, cancer, and heart attacks.

Hedgehog asleep at the laptop

In Japan, overworking is so prevalent that they even coined the term – “karoshi” for people who die at their desks. And photographer Pawel Jaszczuk even captured Japanese businessmen so exhausted they fell asleep on the streets.

This doesn’t take into account all of the mental health issues that can emerge from overworking including burnout, anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts.

For example, some factories in China even have nets around their buildings to keep people from jumping off the roof and committing suicide.

The antidote is making the conscious decision to work smarter.  

Working Smarter, not Harder

You don’t have to change everything at once.

Instead, you can start by setting goals on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis. Set a max of five to-do list items for each day. Then, be prepared to stop working once you finish your to-do lists.  

Hard work is important, and there may be times where you do need to work the extra hours to complete a big project or hit a deadline. However, if you find yourself having to work 60, 70 or 80+ hours for months at a time, this should be an indicator that something is broken.

Instead of simply trying to work more hours, you can lean into the problem at hand. For example, you might realize that your priorities have changed and the goal that you set 6 months ago is no longer applicable.

In sum, there’s a big difference between hard work and hustling. The key differentiator is whether or not you are focusing on the inputs or the outputs. Do you measure your hard work to results or are you merely using the hours spent as a way to “humble-brag” how busy you are and how much you are hustling?

Interested in learning how to work smarter? Check out this post about setting goals.

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Jessica Malnik avatar

Jessica Malnik

Jessica Malnik is a content strategist and copywriter for SaaS and productized service businesses. Her writing has appeared on The Next Web, CMX, JotForm, Help Scout, and Convince and Convert, among many others. Her website is blog.jessicamalnik.com. More articles written by Jessica .

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