A note on toxic productivity

Truth is, nearly anything can be toxic at a high enough dose, including: breakfast tea and productivity.

October 29, 2018


Last week, Business Insider ran a story titled, “This HBSC exec wakes up at 5:30am to work out, always eats green, and studies at Stanford in her free time.”

I’ll give you a minute to drink that in.

In it, the article outlines the awe-inspiring daily schedule of Melania Edwards, including highlights like:

  • 5:30am meditation
  • 6:30am catch up with friends
  • 7:00am green juice
  • 7:30am game of tennis
  • 8:30am walk to work
  • 2:30pm hour-long commute to Stanford
  • 7:30pm yoga
  • 8:30pm experiment with new recipes
  • FREE TIME: mentor women in Papua New Guinea

How does she do it? Is she railing 8 balls in the HBSC bathroom? Is the sheer joy of banking getting her through?

Nay, according to the article it is neither uppers, nor the thrill of compounding interest but, in Melania’s words, “English breakfast tea… my favorite, as I am British.”


To everyone out there consuming moderate caffeine while exerting extreme effort: you’re amazing. Keep doing you. What’s wild is that Business Insider seemed to think this borderline-militant lifestyle is something young people would connect with — or should aspire to.

At The Hustle, we write tons of stories about high-performing CEOs and founders that flipped their companies for millions. But, we also know there are a million and one ways to define ‘success’ — and it doesn’t always come cold-pressed and organic with an executive title.

Truth is, nearly anything can be toxic at a high enough dose, including: breakfast tea (16 cups) and productivity (scheduling your life down to the minute with seemingly no regard for the human need to poop or shower).

And real heads know the age-old art of wasting time pays creative dividends with diligent, unfocused study.

That said, I do still aspire to be British.

— Lindsey Quinn, Managing Editor of The Hustle

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