Do You Have Time Anxiety?

By Siew Ching

It hits us more than we’d expect…

Take a glance at the time… now how do you feel about it? Does it make your heart go faster and your mind go “oh no, where did the time go?” Do you feel like you still have so much to do yet so little time to do them all?

Hello there, time anxiety! Yes, there is an actual name for when you feel that sudden bout of anxiety when you look at the time or when you feel like you don’t have enough time in a day to get things completed. It’s basically that – anxiety over time.

How do you know if you have time anxiety? If you say yes to any of the below:

  • You constantly find yourself looking from your to-do list to the clock and think, argh you’ll never complete things
  • You get overwhelmed trying to decide what to do first and worry you can’t complete anything!
  • You always worry that you are falling behind on your tasks
  • Worrying that you’ll always be late to work, meetings, events
  • Stressed by deadlines, whether impeding or far out
  • Constantly rushing because you feel like you’re not doing enough or working fast enough
  • Never taking breaks because frankly, who has time!

Who can blame you if you have time anxiety, though! In between trying to stay on top of your to-do lists, there are constantly a lot of other things that get in the way during the day – manage the interns, attend all meetings, respond to all emails, answer messages and calls, and yes, even eat lunch!

But if you are constantly struggling with this and it’s getting to a point where you feel helpless, it’s time to address the time anxiety. Try these tips:

#1 Know where your time is going
Ever feel like you go through the day and then wonder where all that time went? That’s one of the common causes of time anxiety where you don’t know where your time is going. Enter time management. Not having any sort of time management means you’re not taking charge of how you want to be productive during the day. Which is why you’re answering an email halfway then putting that off to talk to your boss about something, then coming back to find a new request from a colleague… and when you finally get back to that email again, you wonder where did the time go! The solution: Work in a time management system to make the most of the hours you have in a day or a week. Think of popular approaches like time blocking, Pomodoro timers, or even apps to help organise your time.

#2 Do meaningful things
If you spend your time doing things that don’t mean much to you, it’s no wonder you feel that time is slipping by. But if you fill your day with activities that bring meaning and contentment to you, then you’ll feel like time is well spent! So load up your day with meaningful things – learning something new, ticking off an important goal from your list, building relationships with others at work.

#3 Learn to prioritise
Time management and prioritising go hand in hand. If you don’t have an orderly list of what you need to do first, you can’t manage your time effectively and hence, time anxiety. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by a growing to-do list and can cause you to go off the wagon when there’s too much to handle. No wonder you find it hard to deliver tasks on time, you don’t know what to do first! This will always lead to more anxiety and stress. Combat it by having that important checklist of what needs to be done and you’ll find that you’ll gain better control of your time and how you spend it effectively.

#4 Track your time
Do a time audit to really understand how you’re spending your 9 to 5! This will help you understand where all that time really went and if you are spending more time at timesuckers like making lists instead of actually doing the work or a longer-than-necessary tea break at 4pm. When you have a clearer view of what’s really happening, you’ll be better at allocating the time for specific tasks.

#5 Accept that you can’t do it all!
And that’s ok! This will help plenty with that anxiety. Perhaps too many unfinished tasks isn’t because you’re not efficient but just that you really don’t have the time to do everything! Problem is many of us struggle with saying no or delegating. But it’s important to know what your capacity is and not overcommit so you don’t put yourself in situations where you can’t meet deadlines. Turn down work, ask for new deadlines, defer work if you know you’ve got your hands full.

Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash.

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