When you run your own business, sometimes you have to work weekends or put in long hours to accomplish your goals. But hustling constantly and working 70 hour weeks all the time can lead to burnout. Although society encourages us to maintain a tireless work ethic, we have to rest if we want to do our best work.
I used to subscribe to hustle culture and write for 20 hours straight with few breaks. But after years of working that way, I burned out and damaged my mental and physical health in the process. I had to redefine my relationship with work and take a step back in order to recover.
Now I believe it’s essential to maintain a good work-life balance if I want my business to succeed. Here’s why I think hustle culture is counterproductive.
Working Long Hours Yields Diminishing Returns
Studies have shown that the longer you work, the less you get done. Researchers at Stanford discovered that most people’s productivity drops sharply once they’ve worked for a total of 50 to 55 hours in the same week.
Because your output drops so much after 55 hours, it’s almost not worth working past that point. Believe it or not, Stanford researchers found that a person putting in 70 hours per week has about the same output as someone who only clocks in for 55 hours a week.
Although you feel busy and productive when you work long hours, you may not be accomplishing anything by pushing yourself to burn the midnight oil. If grinding through fifteen or sixteen hour days doesn’t get you closer to your goals, wouldn’t you rather work a reasonable amount and spend more time with family? I know I would!
Creativity Requires Rest
If you’re plugging away at work all the time without breaks, you may be stifling your creativity and ability to problem-solve. Research has shown that our brains require rest to innovate. Our minds need to wander to be able to come up with solutions.
When you allow yourself to daydream, your brain enters something called the default mode. It’s a rest state that involves large amounts of neural activity. If your brain is in default mode, you may feel like you’re goofing off and not being productive.
But in the background, your mind is processing things and making new connections, which helps you come up with creative ideas. That’s why our best thoughts seem to pop into our heads out of nowhere while we’re cooking dinner or showering. So if you believe creativity and innovation are crucial to your company’s success, it’s important to incorporate downtime into your workweek.
You can’t build a successful business without lots of hard work. But you can’t let work become your entire life either, or else you’ll burn out (a lesson I learned the hard way). To make entrepreneurship sustainable, you have to pace yourself and give yourself enough downtime to rest and be creative. After all, 51% of small business owners say maintaining a good work-life balance has been crucial to their success.
How many hours do you work every week? Do you feel like you have a good work-life balance? Let me know in the comments section below!
Vicky Monroe is a freelance personal finance and lifestyle writer. When she’s not busy writing about her favorite money saving hacks or tinkering with her budget spreadsheets, she likes to travel, garden, and cook healthy vegetarian meals.