A bit of a longer one this week, as this book has received quite a bit of hype, even making number 1 in the Sunday Times.
For years I have followed influencer Grace Beverley, previously known as GraceFitUK, on social media since her days at Oxford University, relating to her experience of exams, revision and balancing hard work with an attempt of a ‘less chaotic’ life. So when she announced she was releasing ‘Working Hard, Hardly Working’, a book based on productivity, workout and addressing burnout culture, I jumped at the chance of pre-ordering which I do not usually do.
At only 24, she has founded fitness brands TALA and Shreddy, which I have witnessed her grow and see how a young CEO operates. I found her somewhat inspiring, making the Forbes ’30 under 30’ list, whilst producing great, sustainable products and activewear which I have been a fan of. However, despite my excitement for the book and its pretty cover (I know…), I was left vexed. Yes, vexed.
I found most of the fair, engaging content was in the introduction, making me excited to race through the book. Beverley did a great job at addressing the issues of today’s work culture and the fact we are never fully offline, being surrounded by technology and social media in particular, all the time. There’s the issue of millennials and Gen Z being accused as ‘lazy’, ‘work shy’ and ‘snowflakes’: it turns out we know what we want; work culture is changing.
Burnout is a thing. One could rephrase it as ‘we might be lazy, but it’s because we’re burned out’.
The book then splits into 2 parts: the first, Working Hard. focused on the world of work.
She reiterates the idea of dropping the notion that work always has to be a chore. Too right, I’d say. Yes, there will always be some part of a job we will dislike, but that does not mean we are not entitled to happiness. We are allowed to like our job if we find something we enjoy. We spend most of our lives working, so we may as well spend that time enjoying it than being miserable!
There’s a part on defining success as being married and having children, with women still experiencing a negative correlation between likeability and professional success – unfortunately, I used to think like this but have been changing my view more recently.
Beverley also recommends adjusting different goals either daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly based on what you want to achieve to make them more manageable.
Then we get to part 2: Hardly Working.
I related to her experience of working almost every day from secondary school to feel like I had ‘earned’ a weekend, which I have now only recently come to practice that I need. It’s a chance to reset in order for you to become more productive.
I won’t lie, my perspective really changed from here. I didn’t note many parts in the section either, where most of the content appeared to be unrelatable and unrealistic for many people, particularly those with families and other care responsibilities. For example, splitting your life into a ‘life pie’: a pie chart based on family, work, travel, exercise, hobbies and social life.
I have a feeling this may have been made only for the book, as I doubt many people have the time, nor want, to make a pie chart on their time, when that could be used to look at a calendar on your phone, practising mindfulness or reading a book for a few minutes.
To top it off, which annoyed me and made me unfollow (the second time I have done so since her GraceFitUK days), was her admitting she is rubbish at taking her own advice.
Why on earth should I pay attention to anything she has written? Surely that just proves it doesn’t work and defeats the purpose of writing the book.
I don’t want to hate on the book as there are still some valid points addressing the issue of burnout culture, being called ‘snowflakes’ and needing to change the way we look after ourselves to be our most productive to benefit ourselves and our work (and employers).
However, I would still recommend the read (to make your mind up) for those fed up with the burnout culture we are expected to endure, so we can be a part of changing that and not feel guilty about taking time for ourselves.
I’d be interested to hear what you think of WHHW…
rating – 2.5/5 (5/5 for the introduction!) there were also some spelling and grammatical errors which bugged me…
genre – self-help