Here’s the antidote to a horrible work culture


Written by:


If your workplace insists that everything is a priority, vacation days are for the weak, and a moment not grinding out work is a moment wasted, then you’re likely living in hustle culture. Modern Mentor shares her advice on why—and how—to dial back the hustle.


Last week I got on a coaching call with a client. 2 minutes in, she began crying. 47 minutes later, she was still crying. She was burned out… to a crisp.


SPONSORED: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

1. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn't have to be hard. SmartAsset's free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes.

2. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you're ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals get started now.





At minute 52, we got a deep breath into her, and she began listing her priorities for me. And there were many. “I know we’re supposed to be setting boundaries and doing the self-care thing,” she told me, “but I can’t afford to spend my days meditating and taking walks. I have a big job to do!”

And that was the moment when I almost started crying. She had articulated something I realize so many are struggling with right now: this toxic belief that we’re either succeeding or chanting in a warm bath.

This unwillingness to believe that we can succeed while caring for ourselves and our teams is the epitome of hustle culture. It’s the mentality that a minute not spent grinding out work is a minute wasted, that more is always better, and that rest and relaxation are for the weak.

Unlike toxic productivity—which is driven by an internal need to always be busy—hustle culture is a bundle of awfulness perpetuated by a whole organization or team.

What signals might you spot in an organization suffering from the hustle?

  • Items are only added to to-do lists, never subtracted
  • Lunch breaks are comedy—everyone laughs at them
  • There is always discussion of the next thing, with no pause to recognize or celebrate what’s already been achieved
  • No one has asked about your boundaries
  • Vacation days are to be collected but rarely spent

Do any of these feel familiar? If so, what can you do to begin to make a change at your workplace?

The antidote to hustle culture isn’t doing less work. It’s doing work more mindfully with more purpose, intention, and focus on impact over activity. Here are some practices you can use to start to muzzle the hustle.

1. Ask better questions

Hustle culture values quantity while anti-hustle strives for impact.

When a new project or initiative pops up within a hustle culture, project owners tend to ask questions like:

  • When do you need it completed?
  • What’s my budget?
  • What are the key performance indicators to track?

These are the type of questions my sobbing client would typically ask her boss. But these all presume that of course she’s going to get it done—she just needs some basic facts to start with.

But in an anti-hustle culture, we’d be asking better questions like:

  • What’s the outcome you need to achieve, and might there be a simpler path to achieving it?
  • Has someone inside our company done something similar that we might use rather than reinventing the wheel?
  • What do you suggest we deprioritize so that we have the time, space, and resources to do this project justice?
  • What would be the cost of our not doing this project, or doing it in a month when we’ve freed up some resources?

These anti-hustle questions allow us to slow down, to consider the cost of doing—but also not doing—the work, and to recognize that our resources (which include our emotional and creative energy) are limited and we must spend them thoughtfully. Often they lead us to the same or better outcomes, but with less effort exerted.

My sobbing client agreed to give these a try. I’ll keep you posted on how they serve her.

2. Check on the people around you

Hustle cultures value results at all costs while anti-hustle prioritizes human wellness with an understanding that wellness is a driver of creativity and better results.

To drive an anti-hustle culture, stay in touch with people around you. See how everyone is doing. These are the moments in which your EQ (emotional quotient) really matters!

How are your colleagues or team members doing, really?

Make it a habit of just checking in with people around you. Focus on those whom you suspect may be dealing with loneliness or overwhelm; those who are new to the team and haven’t met anyone in person yet; or just those you’d just like to get to know a little better.

Your job isn’t to be anyone’s savior—loneliness and overwhelm aren’t yours to solve or cure. But just creating the space in which these concerns can be raised begins to dial back the hustle. The conversation helps normalize our complex human experiences.

Give people’s realities airtime, and watch them breathe just a tiny bit more deeply.

3. Tell stories of white-space wins

Hustle culture loves the grind, while anti-hustle appreciates the power of space in which the mind can roam and explore.

Hustle culture puts execution on a pedestal. Always be grinding, crushing, smashing… it’s a little violent when you start speaking its language!

But so often, the greatest insights—the moments of inspiration, creativity, innovation—come when we’re taking a pause from the grind.

There’s a great urban legend that goes like this: A senior executive was walking the halls of his tech company one day when he came across a man sitting at his desk just staring out the window.

When the executive asked that team’s leader why this gentleman hadn’t been fired, the team leader said “Sir, that’s the employee who developed the idea for our most profitable product of the decade.” The next day that employee came into work only to discover his window had been tripled in size overnight.

Did this really happen? I have no idea. But it’s a powerful story of what can happen when we give our minds the time and grace for wandering—letting connections happen in the space between the grinding and the crushing.

Small moments like this are happening in your workplace. Coffee dates, walking meetings, moments of silence or learning or reading or listening to podcasts… can all yield small ideas that improve customer service or tweak a product or alter an old process.

Proactively finding these moments—and highlighting them through stories—is an excellent way to dial back your hustle.

So how are you feeling about the state of the culture at your workplace? Do you have some hustling to do in dialing back that hustle culture? Give one of these suggestions a try. And if you’ve got your own ideas, I’d love to hear them. Shoot me an email at and let me know how you’ve managed to turn back the dial.


This article originally appeared on Quick & Dirty Tips and was syndicated by


More from MediaFeed:


You can’t make it through the work day without using at least two work-focused apps on your phone or computer. Apps like these are especially crucial for remote workers, who can’t access many of the functions and devices that in-house employees can. Not to worry, though — a few companies have developed apps to meet every remote worker’s needs and help them be more productive.


It’s rare to work for a company that doesn’t use Slack for office-wide communication these days. Slack’s group chats and private channels help keep every team member connected and on task. Single channels can be created to discuss projects and members can be tagged in any conversation whenever they’re needed. Slack also integrates with apps like Drive, making it easy for the entire group to access important documents.


Like Slack, Trello allows you to organize projects with process cards. Users can also add collaborators wherever they are needed and include links to articles or drafts. Trello can also serve as a well-oiled to-do list for single users, as they can map project cards according to their work and easily move them around as timelines change. Managers can also create a Trello board, which allows their team to sign up for new projects without having to send an email.


Distractions happen no matter where you work. combats this issue by creating soundtracks that are specific to your work or relaxation needs. You can customize every facet of your soundtrack from length to genre. Whether you do your best work while listening to action music or need to unwind with some easy listening, has you covered.


Many companies use DeskTime for its high-level productivity tracking. The app monitors working hours and breaks them down into productive, effective and wasted time. While DeskTime was designed to help managers monitor their team’s productivity, it can be a great way for individuals to track their own progress. You can examine your work day, evaluate your time usage and plan self-improvement strategies and future deadlines accordingly.


Employees complete more work online than ever before, but still the odd physical document that requires a real signature crops up from time to time. Grizzly Labs created Genius Scan to handle your offline document needs. The app is basically a camera that flattens documents and enhances their appearance as needed without taking up valuable desk space.


Skype and FaceTime are great virtual meeting solutions on their own, but Zoom enhances these meetings with additional options like screen sharing and webinars. The app even lets you record meetings and generate transcripts.


It’s not uncommon for companies to span multiple time zones nowadays. World Clock Meeting Planner allows you to include multiple time zones in your meeting requests so that you don’t, say, accidentally suggest that a teammate in China call you at 3 a.m. Participants can load their time zones into the app and it will automatically update whenever they select their availability.


Yoga, meditation and quiet rooms have become a big part of contemporary office culture, so it’s only fair that remote workers also get some zen time. Headspace is a sound-fueled app that, unlike, wants you to stop working when you tune in. You can use Headspace to listen anywhere and even offline, making it easier to get some peace and quiet on busy days.

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by


Featured Image Credit: