3 min read

How I got promoted working 38 hours a week

It's possible to slow down, do less, and achieve more
How I got promoted working 38 hours a week
Photo by Rahul Dey / Unsplash

Sustain issue #32 (Get Sustain in your inbox next Thursday)

While we talk about going at a sustainable pace in this newsletter, there are times throughout the year where the pace is going to pick up. This is good. It means you’re pushing yourself. The key is to make sure these moments are for a defined length of time (no more than 3-4 weeks), don’t come too often (maybe 3-4 times a year), and you have set recovery time (4 days minimum).

Invalidating the productivity culture hero

The tricky thing about that, as I’m sure you’re too familiar with, is that work seems to be all sprint and no recovery. We’ve grown up in work cultures that equate speed and quantity with career success.

We see this work ‘hero’ getting raises, promotions, and praise like this:

“Wow, they balance a million projects so easily.”
“It took blood, sweat, and tears but they got the deal done over the weekend. Amazing commitment!”

How many times have you heard praise along those lines? I know I have plenty.

But what if praise looked more like this?

“Their diligent work on one high-impact project this month elevated what was delivered and yielded better results than ten time-intensive, low impact projects could.”
“They prioritized so well and only took on work that actually created results, rather than virtue-signalling importance through busyness.”

My point in all of this is that there’s an alternate approach to showing up to work everyday ready to run a sprint. Work can and should be done slowly for higher impact. Not just because it’s better for you, but it’s better for the company and results you deliver.

How I got promoted working in a sustained way

After dealing with two deep bouts of burnout, my goal in this newsletter is to create a world of work without burnout. One where you can go at a sustainable pace while still achieving traditional markers of success in the workplace. While it might sound a bit lofty, I know it’s possible.

Why? Please use my story to justify downsizing your relationship with work.

I received a promotion last week! I earned that promotion through focusing my attention on 3-4 big projects in the last year, not saying yes to low-impact energy-sucking work. I prioritized things and people I love over work. I worked for 38 hours a week or less. I took an hour break nearly every day ‘on company time’ to walk, garden, kayak, or move my body. I didn’t check my email or Slack at all outside of my work hours, including while taking time off. I voiced when I was at or near capacity and we found solutions. I found time for Three Good Pockets to restore myself on a daily basis.  

I put myself first and the work I delivered was bigger, better, and more intentional. You can slow down and take on less to achieve more.

At a sustainable pace,


Ready to downsize your relationship with work and quit burnout?

Hi, I'm Grant Gurewitz. I'm on a mission to end burnout at work. I've been in tech for 10 years (ex-Zillow, current: Qualtrics) who suffered deep burnout and came back from it with no help of the hacky advice out there.

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