It seems like everywhere you look today, people are in a hurry. We race to work, rush through our assignments, dash to our zoom calls, multi-task, and run “orange” lights. We get so used to rushing around that we only feel comfortable when we are moving full speed ahead. In other words, we have developed the hurry habit.
Hurry increases stress
“I must have the proposal completed by 9,” or “I need to be in the pick-up line by 2!“
When our lives are structured in such a way that requires us to rush, 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, the baby needing a diaper change). Toss in a real problem (a flat tire, a computer crash, a fever, etc.) and the stress level can shoot 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:
– Shallow thinking
– “Bending” of the rules/cutting corners
– Lack of creativity
Given these truths, it seems desirable to minimize the need to hurry. Is this even possible?
It would be naïve to suggest that hurry can be completely eliminated; the fast-paced lifestyle is here to stay. Most of us are expected to be “on call” during our waking hours, which means needs and tasks are constantly assaulting us.
In addition, a healthy amount of work and activity is a good thing. Having too much time can be surprisingly detrimental to productivity, tempting us to procrastinate since we have “plenty of time” to get things done.
In order to strike a comfortable balance between time and responsibilities, 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 look through the window, time to have a sip of coffee… the list is endless. In addition, “early” provides flexibility for the unexpected (e.g., heavy traffic, a broken projector, coffee spill on your shirt).
“Late isn’t great.”
Being chronically late – for appointments, social engagements, the game, practice, deadlines, etc. – 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. It could be a beautiful day, but it could just as likely be a storm. Any task completed today will be a gift of time you give to yourself tomorrow. Be kind to yourself!
“Overwhelmed people ask for help.”
If you have more on your list than one person can accomplish, it is time 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. When we try to focus on two things at once, we end up toggling our attention between the two. This can hinder effectiveness and drain our brain energy. If you are skeptical, why not try doing only one thing at a time? Then, let your own results determine whether this is a change that is worth the effort.
“Deep breathing requires breathing room.”
Everyone needs a little “white” space in the day – time that isn’t scheduled. Sometimes this will be swallowed up by unexpected needs. In these cases, having this bit of time is the difference between gracefully pivoting and total meltdown.
Alternatively, “white space” might end up simply providing a window to sit, relax, think, dream, read, or reflect. When we pack our days (or our children’s days) end to end, we lose these opportunities to decompress and alleviate stress.
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Have you fallen into the hurry habit? What are the telltale signs that you need to make a change in your pace?