The Best Thing To Do At Work is Not Work

Hassan Bazzi
4 min readJan 2, 2023

Remember that one Friday in February where you hustled and worked an extra 3 hours to “get things done”? Wait no. It was actually you and 2 colleagues. The 3 of you spent 9 hours combined in your disruptive startup and crushed that Friday.

Then March came around, and you just felt absolutely exhausted all the time. You didn’t really want to get out of bed. You were constantly complaining about being burned out, to which your friends replied: “It’s OK! You gotta hustle to beat the big boys.”

Wait a minute… Let’s rewind to that Friday one more time. Let’s call the fierce competitor to your company: “X”. How many working hours did X, a medium scale-up with $350,000,000 in funding, spend on that same problem? Apparently they had 6 squads assigned that were built to tackle every tiny piece of what you were building, totalling around 300 employees. They spent around 1000 hours on that same Friday, and each employee didn’t even have to work any over time.

It doesn’t sound fair right? If all these big companies with their resources can just outwork you at any time, why bother build anything? How can a startup ever win?

Rejoice! As someone that has crushed competition with 1000x my startups’ resources before, I’m here to give you hope and a little industry secret.

The Industry Secret: Smart Work

First, a recap: It’s impossible to outwork your competition. Just look at the example above. The extra 3 hours on Friday won’t matter since any bigger company can put in 3000 hours in a single day!

To win, you have to deploy a startup’s only competitive advantage: outsmarting the competition. And the only way you can do smart work is with a well rested mind and body.

It’s been the same story since school, college, your first job, even relationships and parenting. When you’re tired, you suck. On the flip side, we are extremely efficient creative machines when we’re well-rested. How many times did you write 90% of a paper in 5% of the total time it took? How many times did you get 90% of your work done on a good Wednesday afternoon? It’s not a coincidence. Yet, we guilt ourselves when we work sustainably. Even worse, we guilt others when they decide to work smart.

Thank you DALL-E 2 for the generative art!

The Great Meeting Crisis

Masked toxic hustle culture creates funny things. Recently, we’ve had a step in the right direction in the work world: Cancelling meetings became cool! However, it came with this weird fine print that read: “Let’s cancel meetings so we can do real work during that time.”

Suddenly, this massive guilt of having to go into hyper work mode became prevelant when cancelling meetings. Let me tell you: when you cancel a meeting, the best thing you can possible do is nothing at all. This is the perfect opportunity to take a step back, take a break, and get your brain rejuvenated so you can actually work smart.

So umm…What’s the conclusion here?

So what does all of this mean? Does it mean hard work is not rewarded? No. Does it mean we shouldn’t go the extra mile to please a customer as a startup? Definitely not. It just means that your chances of success as a startup are considerably higher when you and your team are well-rested and are as far away from burnout as possible. It also means you can sometimes do things that don’t scale, but it can’t be the norm.

Here’s a joke: the word “sprint” in agile methodology. We all know a great product takes a long marathon that consists of smart product and business decisions. Yet, we call every 2 weeks a “sprint.” Think about it. If you constantly sprint in a marathon, you’re not going to make it far. Take your time and jog smartly to the finish line.

If there’s one reason you should sign up for the smart work culture, it’s that it simply feels better. Why is everyone so obsessed with the “Wall Street style” adrenaline and burnout life? Why not just do some smart work for 3–4 hours a day, walk your dog, have a proper lunch, and call a friend in the afternoon?

Next time your manager asks you to spend an extra hour on Friday to ship a feature, tell them you’d rather be out dancing, then go out and dance.



Hassan Bazzi

🌍 Globe Trotter. 🇱🇧 Putting Lebanon on the map 🦙 Founder @nunacompanion 🍃 Mental Health ❤️Pushing people to live in joy, fulfillment, and empathy.