Excessive time-urgency is a classic component of Type-A behavior. People who are overly time-oriented have a greater risk of cardiovascular and other health problems than more patient individuals. Excessive time-urgency is not conducive to effective stressmastery, since one is constantly keeping one’s body at high anxiety and stress levels.

Individuals who perceive life in a time-urgent way tend to engage in self-defeating behaviors and thoughts such as being excessively worried about schedules, keeping overly tight deadlines, rushing when rushing is not necessary, doing several activities at the same time, and not taking the time to really enjoy work or play.

Often called “hurry sickness,” excessive time-urgency means being tied to the clock and trying to do too many things at once. By doing things too fast or doing too much at one time, you reduce your effectiveness. If possible, recognize that working too fast can result in errors and lower quality work. Remember the adage: “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” It’s usually true.

Pushing yourself to always meet the deadline, to constantly be on time, even when being on time is not necessary, places tremendous stress on your mind and body. Time-oriented people often have a fear of being rejected or not being accepted for who they are. As with perfectionism, letting go is key to your success. If you cannot meet the deadline, let go and do your best.

Time-oriented people live in the future and not in the present. They seldom notice the roses along the path of life, since their eyes are always on the goal. Consequently, they put themselves under great stress. It is not incompatible to be goal-oriented and have a proper sense of time. Balance is key.

Time-oriented people cover their anxiety with a flurry of activity. When they stop what they are doing, they feel guilty and, consequently, begin the vicious cycle all over again.

Things You Can Do To Help Time Urgency

You, and only you, create time pressure You can make time your enemy or your friend. When time is your friend, you take a more relaxed approach to work or play. If you make time your enemy, you see time being drained from you, and your fear increases.

Excessive time-urgency is a problem in thinking. Everyone has some pressure to get things done. However, if you consider everything is equally urgent, you’re likely to experience stress problems. Rethink your view of time, how you relate to it, and what is really important to you. Place events and tasks in proper perspective.

Control your expectations At the root of this problem is the expectation that you must always do more. Are you trying to do more than you are reasonably capable of doing? Learn your limitations. Focus on one thing at a time.

Deal with fear of failure Many people with hurry-sickness have an intense fear of rejection. Trying to please everyone by rushing to meet others’ needs contributes to this problem. For example, if you must make all appointments on time, you may have an excessive need to please others. While it is important to be on time for most appointments, not all require a do-or-die attitude. Rushing though traffic, risking life and limb, to get to an appointment for which you will be a few minutes late can actually create more problems.

Do not confuse the value of timeliness with excessive time-urgency. Being on time is appropriate. Rushing through everything may be an indication of a deeper problem or simply the inability to plan.

Ask what is the worst and best that might happen if you slow down and pace yourself. Based on your answer to this question, you can begin to adjust your behavior and thinking.

Separate work from play Keep work and play separate. Work has more time requirements than play. Think about it. Are you behaving as though social activities are like a meeting of the board of directors?

Slow down and listen Practice doing some things slowly. Not all tasks need to be done quickly. View things from a different perspective, say, a child’s perspective. Notice how children tend to be unconcerned about time. They play at their pace and live in the present, not the future. Try doing a task without worrying about deadlines, the clock, or when you will be done with it. Pretend you are a child with no worries or time pressures. You may be surprised at how good you can feel — interestingly, you may do a better job on the task.

When you talk to people, listen more than you talk. Psychologists know that little is learned when we do the talking. In addition, by listening more and talking less, you slow down and actually hear what a person is saying. Under stress, we reduce our ability to truly interpret what a person is saying. Quiet listening helps reduce stress.