Time Anxiety at Work: How to Battle It and Conquer Your DayJul 30, 2022 | 9 min read
Feeling anxious about time is common, but there are ways to manage it and make the most of your day. Learn how with our tips!
Feeling like you're constantly racing against the clock? Or, like there's never enough time in the day?
Millions of people around the world suffer from time anxiety.
In this blog post, we will discuss what time anxiety is, how to battle it, and how to conquer your day!
What's called time anxiety?
So called time anxiety is the feeling of never having enough time, or constantly racing against the clock. This type of anxiety can be incredibly cause paralyzed thinking and can keep you from achieving your goals. Workday stress resulting in unrealistic deadlines, last minute projects, and conflicting demands on our time can all contribute to what can happen in the future.
We live in a productivity obsessed world where feeling stressed is no longer a novelty. However, an often overlooked aspect is how this constant stress can lead to anxiety about time's uncontrollable nature. Our relationship with time and acknowledging time's impact on our day-to-day lives is crucial for managing future time anxiety. Time exists whether we want it to or not and we must learn to work with time, rather than against it.
Scarce resource theory posits that the more scarce a resource is, the more people will hoard it – and for some people, time is a scarce resource.
If you're struggling with it, know that you're not alone. It can be a terrible feeling, but there are ways for overcoming time anxiety.
What are the symptoms of time anxiety at work?
There are a variety of symptoms that can come along with types of time anxiety at work.
#1 Feeling constantly behind
Do you ever feel like you're constantly playing catch up? Do you suffer stress not just once but as ongoing feelings? If so (and these are only a few examples), this is a common symptom of time anxiety at work. No matter how hard you try, it feels like you can never get ahead. This can be incredibly frustrating and can lead to even more anxiety.
#2 Always in a rush
Do you find yourself always rushing from one thing to the next? Time is slipping away but you're swamped in depth reports? This is another common symptom of time anxiety. This constant rushing can leave you feeling frazzled and stressed. It can also make it difficult to focus on any one task.
#3 No time to relax
If you're struggling with time anxiety, it's likely that you don't feel like you have any time to relax since you think about all the things you need to do. This can lead to even just a momentary spike of anxiety and can be incredibly detrimental to your mental health.
#4 Deadlines became paralyzing
When time anxiety is not your problem, performance review and deadlines are just fine. But when you start to struggle with time anxiety, deadlines can become paralyzing. This is because they add even more pressure to an already stressful situation.
#5 Deteroriating mental health
We're talking both mental health and physical health. If you notice that you lose weight, don't feel healthy with your daily life, your computer time increases, even habits change, and you get some kind of social anxiety disorder instead of well spent activities, you may already go through an existential time anxiety.
#6 Procrastination and restlessness
Even habit can 't help you anymore. You start to procrastinate and drop important tasks because you feel like there's no point in starting something if you're just going to fall behind. This can lead to a vicious cycle of anxiety and stress, and time spent means even less time to complete tasks.
No matter what the symptoms are, time anxiety can be incredibly difficult to deal with, and sub optimal way of living.
Causes of time anxiety at work
#1 Too many tasks and responsibilities
One of the most common causes of time anxiety is having too much on your plate. When you have too many things to do, it can feel like you're constantly racing against the clock. This can be incredibly overwhelming and can lead to even more anxiety.
If this is the cause of your time anxiety, it's important to try to take on less. This may mean saying no to some tasks or delegating some of your responsibilities.
#2 Lack of organization
Another common cause of time anxiety is a lack of organization. When you're not organized, it can be difficult to keep track of everything that needs to be done. But when the whole organization of your work is in disarray, it can feel even more daunting as more people may be needed to complete a task. This can lead to even more anxiety.
If you're struggling with time anxiety, it's important to try to get organized. You may consider creating a system that works for you or investing in some organizational tools.
#3 Not enough workforce
Not having enough people to help with the workload can cause a tremendous time anxiety. This can be incredibly stressful as it can feel like you're constantly stepping up to the plate to fill in the gaps and serious responsibilities.
If this is the case, it's important to try to delegate some of the tasks or responsibilities. You may also think about kicking off recruitment to bring in more help.
Solutions for time anxiety at work
Identify the tasks that contribute to your time anxiety
Identify your main time-wasters and figure out ways to eliminate them or at least minimize them. This may be the first step, but it's an important one since it can help you focus on the tasks that are most important. Sometimes, even offloading a single task can make a big difference.
Prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency
Have you ever heard of Eisenhower Box? It's a decision-making tool that can help you prioritize tasks based on their importance and urgency. This can be incredibly helpful if you're struggling with time anxiety as it can help you focus on the tasks that are most important.
To use the Eisenhower Box, simply draw a box and divide it into four quadrants. Label each quadrant as follows:
- Quadrant I: Urgent and Important
- Quadrant II: Not Urgent but Important
- Quadrant III: Urgent but Not Important
- Quadrant IV: Not Urgent and Not Important
Once you've labeled each quadrant, start placing your tasks into the appropriate quadrant. Once you've done that, you can start working on the most meaningful tasks in Quadrant I. These are the tasks that are both urgent and important and should be your priority. With planning fallacy, we often underestimate how long tasks will take, as people spend too much time on Quadrant III tasks.
Set deadlines for yourself and stick to them
Not everything has to be done here and now. Sometimes, it's important to give yourself a deadline in order to get things done. This can be helpful as it can help you focus and work more efficiently. With clear deadlines, you'll be able to better utilize your time and may even find that you have more time than you thought – and improve your time management skills for maximum benefit.
If you're constantly setting unrealistic deadlines, it can actually lead to more anxiety. So, take a step back and assess what you can reasonably achieve in the time frame that you have. Once you've done that, set a deadline and stick to it.
Delegate or outsource tasks that you don't have to do yourself
Too much in your backlog? Don't be afraid to delegate or outsource some of the tasks. This can be incredibly helpful as it can free up your time so that you can focus on other things.
When delegating or outsourcing tasks, it's important to make sure that you're delegating to the right person. Make sure that they have the skills and knowledge necessary to complete the task. Otherwise, it may end up taking longer and adding to your time anxiety, as you'll be busy redoing the task.
Take breaks throughout the day to rejuvenate and refocus
Ever heard of Pomodoro Technique? It's a time management technique that can help you get more done in less time.
The Pomodoro Technique is based on the idea that if you break down your work into smaller chunks, it'll be easier to focus and get things done. Basically, you work for 25 minutes and then take a five-minute break.
After four Pomodoros, you take a longer break, usually 20-30 minutes. This can be helpful as it allows you to refocus, take breaks throughout the day and avoid burnout.
Talk to your supervisor about ways you can improve your work efficiency
You may also want to talk to your supervisor about ways you can improve your work efficiency. They may have some suggestions that can help you reduce your time anxiety, but also be of help if you need a longer break or a more complex solution to battle time anxiety.
If you also have colleagues constantly complaining they feel anxious, this may gain importance and you may consider suggesting some workshops or internal retreats, as well as changes in company culture, to your supervisor.
Set realistic goals for the day and week, based on what's important to you
Setting realistic goals and expectations can help you avoid getting overwhelmed by your to-do list. A realistic schedule may also help to break down your tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces. Everyone wants to reach for the stars, but it's important to be realistic about what you can achieve in a day or week.
Put all your attention into one task. Your productivity will increase dramatically – mark our words! In the digital era, it's easy to get distracted by all the things that are happening around us.
But, if you can focus on one thing at a time, it'll be easier to get through your tasks quickly and efficiently.
Kick off recruitment to bring in more help
Sometimes, you may have no other choice. If you're constantly feeling overwhelmed and anxious about your workload, it may be time to bring in some help. This can be in the form of hiring a new employee or intern.
Recruitment can be a lengthy process, so it's important to start early. This way, you can avoid getting further behind on your work.
Schedule self check-ins with yourself
To feel motivated and quell anxiety, you may want to schedule self-check-ins with yourself. This means setting aside some time each day or week to assess your progress and see how you're doing.
Also, if your colleagues constantly asking how you're doing, it can add to your anxiety. So, by scheduling self-check-ins, you can avoid this and focus on your own progress.
Invest in some organizational tools
Spend time on creating or finding organizational tools that can help you in keeping track of your tasks, deadlines, and progress. When action precedes motivation, it's easier to get things done. If you have a clear plan and know what needs to be done, it'll be easier to focus and avoid getting overwhelmed.
You may want to consider using:
- a time management tool – to create a daily or weekly schedule
- a project management tool – to track deadlines and progress
- automation software – to fill long files or tedious tasks on autopilot
- a task manager – to keep track of your to-dos
- a note-taking app – to jot down ideas, reminders, and tasks
- HR software – for tracking working hours and absence
Is your future depending on these tools? Well, there is not only one finish line for success. But if you're struggling with time anxiety, these tools may give you the structure and clarity that you need to get through your day-to-day tasks. And with many available at no upfront cost, such as free tools for project management, there's nothing to lose by giving it a go.
Even if it's just a momentary spike...
it can be just a beginning of being anxious with time.
Many suffer with time anxiety at work – and are not aware of it. Be patient with yourself, and try different tactics and a few strategies to find what works for you in order to overcome it. Time anxiety can be conquerable if you give some of all those strategies a chance!
Time anxiety can be incredibly difficult to deal with, but there are ways to manage it. By identifying the causes of your time anxiety and implementing some solutions, you can start to take back control of your day.
Spend a few moments to rediscover a truly productive time for yourself. It can help you spur ideas, feel accomplished, work more efficiently, and push forward to the next big thing.
Future Time Anxiety FAQ
How to deal with feelings of overwhelm
There is no short answer to this question, as everyone experiences and deals with feelings of overwhelm differently. However, some tips on how to deal with feelings of overwhelm include asking for help, discovering rest activities, learning to say no and making a plan. Time spent means time managed- so if you find that you're constantly feeling overwhelmed, it may be helpful to take a step back and assess how you're spending your time.
How to avoid afternoon slumps
If you're feeling anxious about time, chances are you're not taking enough breaks. When we try to push through and work for long periods of time without a break, our productivity starts to drop. We get tired, our minds wander, and it becomes harder to focus.
To avoid afternoon slumps, take a break every couple of hours to get up and move around. Go for a walk, get some fresh air, or just stretch your legs. Taking a few minutes to yourself can help refresh your mind and give you the energy you need to power through the rest of the day.
How to end your day on a positive note
Well spent activities at the end of the day can help reduce time anxiety going into the next day. Make a list of things you want to accomplish the following day before you leave work for the night. This will help ease your mind and give you a sense of control over what tomorrow holds. Having some free time can also be beneficial and reduce your stress and anxiety.
How to identify the sources of your anxious relationship with time
To deal with time anxiety and beat the race ahead, you need to know what's causing your anxiety in the first place. Simply "stop worrying" is much easier said than done. Start by identifying the sources of your anxiety, which can be anything from work deadlines to family commitments.
Once you know what's causing your anxiety, you can start to address the issue and find a solution. Too much observation without enough action will just make you more anxious.
How does time anxiety manifest itself in the workplace
Anxiety at its core is the anticipation of future events, often with an uncertain outcome.
Time anxiety specifically is the worry or stress that comes from thinking about the future and not having enough time. Ignoring time anxiety can make you feel uncomfortable, and your emotional specter can slide into full-blown panic.
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