2 min read

Why you should approach work like you approach cooking onions

Sweat your onion, like you sweat the high-impact work you do
Why you should approach work like you approach cooking onions
Photo by mayu ken / Unsplash

Work has been really insane the last few weeks as my job morphs. I enjoy the challenge and opportunity to grow, but I’m also in a place where I could easily get sucked into the trap of working 60-80 hours a week. I know I would have earlier in my career.

But I made a pact with myself several years ago on my road back from burnout that I work hard within a sane number of hours, nothing more. I firmly believe this is a decision we all have the power to make. Though it may take a mindset adjustment and/or a come to Jesus conversation with your boss.

In a world where instant gratification rules, it takes conscious effort to slow down, choose only what’s essential, and pour energy only into that.

It’s just like onions. Onions?! 🧅

In Cooked, Michael Pollan shares hands-on learnings from a professional chef. It was news to me, just as it was to him, that we’ve been cooking onions all wrong! See, most every recipe with a pot starts the same way: cook chopped onions in oil for 5-10 minutes over high heat until browned.

The problem is that to caramelize onions for maximum flavor, chefs suggest cooking them low and slow for about 40-50 minutes.

Most of today’s recipes have been optimized for the 30-minutes-and-done home cook.

And sure, the meals come out fine. Just like your work if you take it all on.

So if you’re feeling like there’s a mountain on your plate at work, think about cooking your metaphorical onions with care low and slow. Focus on getting the most out of your essential work and leave the unimportant time sucks on the sideline.

The dish – your body of work – will build better and have so much more flavor. A full-bodied incredible dish > a bunch of mediocre sides.


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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