Halting the Hurry Habit

The Hurry HabitIt seems like everywhere you look today, people are in a hurry. We race to work, rush through our assignments, multi-task, and run “orange” lights. For many of us, hurry has become a habit. We get so used to rushing around that we only feel comfortable when we are moving full speed ahead.


Hurry increases stress
I must have the proposal completed by 9!…I need to be in the pick-up line by 2!

If we must rush to meet a deadline, we have no margin for error. Circumstances which are not inherently stressful now become tense (e.g. a slow moving car, the printer being out of paper.) Toss in a real problem (a flat tire, a computer crash) and the stress level shoots off the chart.

Hurry damages relationships
When we are rushed, we focus primarily on ourselves. We tend to shut out distractions – including friends and family – in order to accomplish a task. We are hyper-aware of our own needs at the expense of those around us. If this is a pattern, we risk being perceived as unavailable and uncaring.

Hurry undermines excellence
While some people claim to do their best work under pressure, most people actually perform better when they pace themselves. Common consequences of a “rush job” include:

–       typos/errors
–       shallow thinking
–       “bending” of the rules/cutting corners
–       lack of creativity

It would be naïve to suggest that hurry can be completely eliminated; the fast-paced lifestyle is here to stay. In addition, a healthy amount of work and activity is a good thing… too much time can be equally dangerous. However, if you feel that you may have fallen into the hurry habit, here are a few slogans to embrace:

“Good things happen when you show up early”
What are some of the good things? Time to relax, time to park, time to scope out the room, time to observe through the window, time to have a sip of coffee… the list is endless. In addition, early provides flexibility for the unexpected (e.g. traffic, broken projector).

“Late isn’t great”
Being chronically late – for meetings, appointments, or deadlines- damages credibility. At best it is considered rude, at worst it is perceived as incompetent. There is no glory in being late.

“Today trumps tomorrow”
The truth is that we never know what tomorrow will bring… could be a beautiful day, but could be an unexpected mess. Any task completed today will be a gift of time you give yourself tomorrow. Be kind to yourself! 

“Overwhelmed people ask for help”
If you have more to do that one person can accomplish, then you need to explore getting some help. “Doing it all” isn’t heroic, it is exhausting.

“One thing at a time”
By now you have probably heard about the downside of multitasking. If you are a skeptic, just try to do only one thing at a time for a day or two. Let your own results determine whether this is a change you need to make.

“Deep breathing requires breathing room”
Everyone needs a little “white” space in the day – time that isn’t scheduled. Sometimes this will be swallowed by unexpected developments, but others it will provide a window to think, dream, read, and reflect… all of which decompress and alleviate stress.

If hurry is a habit you’ve fallen into, maybe it is time to choose another way. Do you have a technique for intentionally slowing down?

31 thoughts on “Halting the Hurry Habit”

  1. It’s so true about the stress. Every morning I freak out about being late to school, and every day I know that freaking out does NOTHING to help us get there. And mainly, we’re already late at this point anyway! And it’s only preschool.
    I get wrapped up in my own deadlines a lot, which is hard because I’m my own boss and I tend to set my own client deadlines with photos/writing, and sometimes I wish for a boss who would instruct me here, and I’d get everything done early and stress-free, of course! In this perfect world.

    1. Isn’t it funny how hard it can be to hold ourselves to deadlines? I think being self-employed has its own unique set of challenges, and time management is certainly one of them. Hang in there, Tamara!

  2. I’m so guilty of this, and I hate constantly having to rush my kids to get places on time. I swear if I did not constantly stay on top of my 10 year old we would never make it out of the house!

    1. Keeping kids on schedule can be a full time job! Any steps to slow down can be helpful, though, so one step at a time, right?

    1. Me too, Susannah. All of the sudden I realize that I’m stressed out and not enjoying anything… we all are fighting the good fight, right?

  3. Great article Seana, I have learned that the hard way lately. Stress has caused a pinched nerve in my neck, that and a bad desk set up, and I was off my game for a few weeks. Learning to breathe more during the day, the rushing is not good, we all get where we are going eventually. Your post was very appropriate for me.

    1. So sorry to hear about the pinched nerve, Jill. That can just be miserable!! Hope you are able to slow down and show yourself some love — and feel better soon!!

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  5. I am so guilty of rushing through life on certain days. And I can feel my blood pressure escalate when I’m in a hurried state. I need to start practicing “chilling out” more! 🙂

    1. The pressure can make it so hard not to rush! I am guilty as well:) “Chilling out” sounds good to me, though. Happy weekend!

  6. Great post Seana, especially for this time of year. I find myself feeling anxious about everything that needs to get done. When I don’t have balance and allow time to just breath I feel stressed and then usually wind up getting sick. I enjoy doing a yoga class twice a week and I’ve tried meditating, but have a hard time sticking with it. I start my day reading a little book called The Daily Word and journaling. I find it helpful to get my thoughts on paper.

    1. Sounds like you’ve put some very helpful habits in place to battle the hurry pressure, Dawn. I love the idea of journaling – it gives us a moment to step back and think, which is very refreshing and restorative. Prayer, meditation, silence… all are so healthy!

  7. The saying goes, the “tyranny of the urgency” and so we go hurry, hurry, hurry. Thanks for posting the dangers this attitude creates and the examples to help us reflect on our actions and control our response. Great timely post, especially for this time of year!

  8. I recognise a lot of this! With two young kids, one part-time job, my own business and a home to look after, I find myself doing everything superfast. I’m looking forward to a point when my kids are a bit less dependent so I can breathe occasionally. 🙂

    1. I hear you, Lorraine! When little ones are part of the equation, time is short indeed. No condemnation here, just sending wishes for you to find some peaceful moments. Hang in there:)

  9. Such great information. Sometimes I wonder what in the world happened, literally! My mother had 9 children, worked and got so much more done then I do now. If I really think I guess I can name a few things. But it definitely give results of less than excellence when always scarrying and hurrying.

    1. 9 children? I stand VERY impressed! Sometimes I feel like the hurrying makes us “skip over” our accomplishments instead of feeling good about them… feeling like we need to immediately move on to the next task. Hurry is like a thief who steals our joy!

    1. You are so right, Carol. The pressure of the “to do” list is so strong that it just squeezes our perspective and we fail to notice all that is going well. Thanks for this comment!

  10. Yes – all of this! I’m so distracted by all that I *need* to accomplish by a certain day or time that I’m missing out on what’s happening right now with my family. I always feel rushed and hurried even though I’m usually early for appointments and deadlines, but it makes me insane to do so!

    1. I think we are all suffering from this hurried life… we finish a day – maybe successfully getting everything done – but then it is up and do it again. Finding “peace” isn’t easy, but I hope to at least get us thinking about it. Thanks for the comment, Allie!!

    1. You are so right, Janet. Hurry steals the joy from the moment, even if it is simply the joy that results from a job well done. No matter what job we hold, there is a satisfaction from knowing we’ve done it well, and rushing around undermines our productivity and end results.

  11. I LOVE this post! The idea of slowing down, savoring now, being present, and single vs. multi-tasking is so important….even more now than ever in this age of 24/7 access and being “on.” The phrase, “deep breathing requires breathing room,” resonated with me. That pause, when we stop to access our breath, can happen at any time. But we need to allow ourselves the time (if only for a few minutes) to take it….hence the “breathing room.” And there’s power in doing that even if only for a few minutes several times during the day.
    Linda Samuels recently posted…How to Pass the Human Test and Quickly Unlock NextMy Profile

    1. The cultural pressure to move quickly is really hurting us. Yes, we can accomplish a lot when pressed, but is that really living? Periodic stress is normal, but perpetually living in a crunch is draining. We all need breathing room to maintain perspective and really “live” our lives. Thanks for the affirmation!

  12. I can so relate to this post. I really do not like being late (although I have had to learn to relax a bit around this due to the work I am doing most days) It can really stress me out and I just feel so cranky. Looking at the benefits of working with a slower pace and having more time to think or just to have some extra breathing room just helps me to think about taking a big breath. Ahh!!!

    1. Yes, we all need that space to take a big breath. It is physical, but also emotional. I hate being late too. But we all need to work at a sustainable pace. The “rush” of a deadline can be invigorating, but only if it happens periodically.

  13. I really like how you explained this, Seana! We let the “hurry habit” take over our days as if we have no other alternative.
    I always love it when I arrive early and enjoy the benefits you mentioned. It really is easier than making excuses! And deliberately doing just one thing today that helps me have a better tomorrow is like a little present I give myself. I plan to travel tomorrow and I am so glad I did laundry & packed my suitcase yesterday because today was just a bit crazy!! That gave me the margin to handle the unexpected extra tasks with a measure of grace.
    Olive Wagar recently posted…THRIFTY ORGANIZING SOLUTIONSMy Profile

    1. Extra margin is a beautiful thing, Olive! It just frees us to breathe or pray or stare out the window and enjoy the moment. It really is a gift to ourselves. Safe and wonderful travels!

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