Halting the Hurry Habit

Image of the roadside, blurry from driving quickly. Halting the Hurry Habit

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:

–       Typos/errors
–       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.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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.

* * *

Have you fallen into the hurry habit? What are the telltale signs that you need to make a change in your pace?

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22 thoughts on “Halting the Hurry Habit”

  1. For sure I am all about slowing down. Because we are now at a pace similar to years ago, with more emotions and events seem to be challenging, moving slower helps us make better decisions and ease anxiety. I love that you are sharing these ideas this week!

    1. Totally agree, Ellen. If we are able, I do believe that moving slower helps us make better decisions and ease anxiety. Great reminder for a Monday morning, right?

  2. This is such an excellent reminder for us all. I completely agree that when we are hurried, we are stressed. When we are stressed, we do not have the capacity to think outside of ourselves. I love all of your great little quotes. I think my favorite is, “Good things happen when you show up early.” This has been true all throughout my own life, and I try to teach that to my kids as well. Thank you so much for your article!

    1. I’m so glad you agree about showing up early. I’ve tried to teach my children as well. It has been a simple, yet effective, tool for feeling in control and being reliable. 🙂

  3. I’m impressed with these thoughts on ways to stop “the hurry habit “.
    Everybody has a list of things which must get done.. still some seem to do it with a calm ordered manner… many others seem to always be in a panic .. running from one thing to another.. still others just never complete the task at hand, They wear themselves out with efforts which don’t achieve success.

    Another good post, one to remind me to step back, take time to thinks things thru, take a deep breath, prioritize then begin. Thanks.

  4. This is so true, Seana. All of your slogans resonate with me. I also like the way you point out that this hurried way of life is here to stay but I believe (as I think you do, too) that we don’t have to buy into it completely. Dr. Cassie Holmes in her book The Happier Hour points out that research indicates most people need at least 2 hours of ‘free time’ a day. It need not be all at once – like a 2-hour block of time. Plus she goes on to say that 5 hours is the maximum of ‘free time’ we need. More than that and we are bored or don’t know what to do with ourselves. I’m sharing her research here because most people have the time to strike that balance to not feel hurried or harried. I always plan to arrive on the early side of on time. I hate the feeling that comes with being late.
    Diane N Quintana recently posted…Letting Go Is An Act Of BraveryMy Profile

    1. I’m loving these guidelines from Dr. Holmes. How helpful! We do need a balance between programmed/planned time and free time, and I find these suggestions terrific for guiding us as we plan our days. These times resonate as spot on!

    1. I have the same struggle, Jonda. I’m often so busy planning for what is next that I lose focus on the current moment. I’m not sure if it is use of technology or what, but focusing has gotten more challenging in recent years. I need to be intentional to attain it!

    1. Sometimes we need to program in “mandatory fun” to make sure it happens, right Sabrina? It’s funny, but for some people, relaxing is actually a challenge. So having some activities that shift away from our normal work tendencies can really help.

  5. That’s so interesting about damaging relationships. I can see why – in the mornings I have to be VERY mindful to be patient and loving – because otherwise I would just scream with all the chaos. I once had a friend who moved from Texas to Maine, and she said that every time she visited Texas, her heartbeat would speed up because it was a more stressful place for her. All the hustle and bustle.
    Tamara recently posted…What is a Blockhead Lab, and Is It the Right Pet Option for You?My Profile

  6. I really dislike rushing and yet I feel like I am often pressured to do that. It is counterproductive and exhausting. I would rather get up earlier, go to events early, cut something our of my schedule or find inventive ways to not hurry. I am working on it. Not 100% successful yet.

  7. This a great article and all what you mentioned is so true. We need to slow down and maybe be more organized. Some people get overwhelmed with the schedule, appointments, activities and so on, so maybe make a day by day lists for priorities. And I 100% agree with you, so many bad things could happen when we’re rushing, it’s really not worth it, it does add up.
    Thank you for the reminder.
    Janet Schiesl recently posted…Secondhand SeptemberMy Profile

  8. This really resonates. I absolutely hate rushing or hurrying, so I always leave a ridiculous amount of buffer time to ensure that I can arrive calm, well-fed, and not-freaked-out. If that means there are fewer things I can squeeze into my schedule, so be it, because the things I DO accomplish are my priorities. It makes me nervous watching other people rush, and I particularly like your message about doing one thing at a time. I am constantly quoting ADDCrusher’s riff about there only being three things: what you’re doing now, important stuff that’s not what you’re doing now, and BS that’s not what you’re doing now. Once I pick what I’m doing now, it gets all my attention, because the minute I try to do two things, it means I’m not going to do either as well as I could do just one thing. Instead, I try to teach clients to “put a pin in it” and imagine a bulletin board with everything that you’ll think about when they’re not doing what they’re doing NOW. No rushing!

    You hit all the essentials!
    Julie Bestry recently posted…Paper Doll Organizes You To Prepare for an EmergencyMy Profile

    1. I love that visual of the bulletin board that is holding reminders of what you are not doing now. The only time I can multi-task is when I’m doing one brain function with one mindless function, such as listening to a book and folding laundry. Otherwise, the toggling kills my productivity for sure.

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