There’s nothing to be proud of if you’re overworked, burned out, and barely hanging on by a thin thread. A part of our modern culture entails watching your coworkers get into humble-bragging matches about who works the most, as though being the one closest to exhaustion warrants a gold medal and universal praise. Working yourself to the bone doesn’t automatically lead to success if your efforts aren’t focused and genuine, I feel.

This is exactly the topic that people on Twitter and Reddit discussed after they spotted a comment by user Steven Dennis. He was bragging about how he worked 190 hours over 3 weeks and called anyone doing the standard 40-hour workweek as working “part-time.” Steven wrote that he laughs at people who feel tired after working just that. That’s why internet users decided to call him out. You can read what they had to say below.

Personally, I firmly believe that quality work, intense focus, and working smart (not hard) should be our priorities. The more efficient our work, the more time we have for spending time with family, leisure, and feeding the ducks at our local park. Less is more so to speak. However, I also value discipline and effort. If you have grand ambitions, found your calling, or have a side-hustle (or two!), you also need to be prepared to work more hours. Generally, over 40. But look at me here, going on and on! What matters most is what you think, dear Pandas. How many hours per week do you work and how many do you think we should all work? Let us know in the comments.

I reached out to financial expert Sam Dogen, the founder of Financial Samurai, for his take about 40-hour workweeks. He revealed to Bored Panda that people tend to brag about their work hours because they want validation. “Working long after your colleagues are gone means nobody will see your hard work. Hence, you need to tell people about it because the results often take time to manifest. The irony is, if you have great results, there’s no need to tell anybody how hard you work,” he explained.

Scroll down to read Sam’s insights about work, why it’s important to balance working hard with working smart, and how it’s vital to recharge physically and mentally if you’re feeling constantly drained. I also reached out to fitness expert and entrepreneur Jack Bly for his take on working more efficiently. “To increase our work output, the #1 place I look at is health,” he told Bored Panda. “Better health leads to more energy, more focus, and more productivity. To improve our health and ultimately our output, we need to make sure we’re doing things like sleeping 7-8 hours consistently, [having] good nutrition, [and maintaining] consistent exercise.”

Twitter user Steven started up a heated discussion after bragging about how much he works and criticizing anyone working less

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Others called him out for his arrogant comment

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Here’s what Steven said in response

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Plenty of Twitter users thought that Steven was wrong to dedicate his entire life to work

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Steven gave some more details about his job

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People thought it was ridiculous to brag about working so much

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Financial expert Sam was candid with Bored Panda: the world is a tough place and we need to work hard to get ahead. That’s why you need to learn to learn to work smarter and harder while you’re still young and have lots of energy.

“In your 20s and 30s you need to work BOTH smarter AND harder, especially if you are of average intelligence. The world is a brutally competitive place with some of the smartest people also working the hardest. So working long hours while you’re still young and learning is a matter of practicality,” he told me.

“You can’t expect to go straight to the corner office without putting in your dues. At the same time, you can’t expect to outperform your peers simply through hard work,” the founder of Financial Samurai noted. “You have to be strategic by building a strong network of relationships internally and externally (clients) who will pull to get you promoted and help you get paid at your next job.”

Sam stressed the fact that it’s very important to take some time off if you’re feeling burned out. “Take sick days and mentally recharge. Don’t just think being ill is just a physical thing. There are plenty of mental illnesses. They are just not as visible. There is no better time than right now to take sick days due to the pandemic and the greater awareness of mental health issues. There is simply no shame in healing the mind!” he said.

You can read some more of Sam’s thoughts about mental illness, as well as the 40-hour workweek on his blog.

According to fitness expert Jack, things like sleeping and eating well, and getting enough movement might sound basic but make a “night and day difference in our output.” He said: “Prioritizing things like workouts actually give us more energy rather than take energy.”

I also wanted to get Jack’s take on working smart vs. working hard. He opened up to Bored Panda that “hours worked are an irrelevant factor,” in his opinion.

“What truly matters is true output/results you can get. Person A: works 8 hours to get X work done Person B: works 3 hours to get the same X work done. Which person would you rather be?” he pondered.

Some internet users suggested that Steven might be overworked, underpaid, or might even have a form of Stockholm Syndrome because he feels the need to defend the fact that he works so much for his company.

Others highlighted the fact that some people work themselves to the bone and are loyal to companies that could replace them at the snap of the fingers. They argue that it’s not worth sacrificing your health and the time you spend with your loved ones for the sake of those who won’t ever return your feelings of loyalty.

Hard work and endless hours at the office alone might potentially not be enough to get ahead. Economic forces can make it more difficult to get ahead.

“We had the global financial crisis which led to many millennials who were employed being displaced. When the economy recovered, it changed structurally, and many quality jobs were lost,” Eddy Ng, the Smith Professor of Equity & Inclusion in Business at Queen’s University, told Bored Panda that the 2008 financial crisis created a new type of economy.

The crisis led to the emergence of precarious jobs, the gig/sharing economy, and the rise of digital labor. This, in turn, led to a rise in income and social inequality. This inequality was further deepened by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Professor Ng noted that some racialized groups fell into the poverty trap and, without the resources to access training and education, had a hard time getting out of it.

“Workers work more hours with lower pay in order to survive. That leaves little time to accumulate the necessary resources for skill upgrades or retooling for the new economy. This is the poverty trap I alluded to,” the professor said.

Meanwhile, here’s how Reddit users reacted to Steven’s Twitter comment after it spread across the net