Remember when “rush hour” used to be an hour or two on the way to work and home? These days rushing is an all-day affair—and a major obstacle to productivity and health, since believing every minute of the day is an emergency drives stress.
Rushing is a habit we think is good for our work, but it’s actually the opposite. It’s a ticket to mistakes, re-do’s and attention lost in frenzy and frazzle. The fact is, there's not much engagement or attention on anything when we’re racing. All the focus is on getting done with the task, not on doing it.
The bad habit here is called time urgency. The pattern goes like this: Impatience leads to irritability, which leads to anger, which leads to clogged arteries. This is why time urgency is a medical term. It’s a heart attack risk and a major roadblock to work-life balance.
Time urgency fuels rushing and rushing fuels stress. It’s an unconscious loop we get caught up in that shreds attention and sets up action before thought. Nonstop motion makes everything appear urgent when we haven’t taken the time to think about what is urgent and what isn’t.
Productivity takes a beating from the emotional anxiety that comes with rushing. A study by Leslie Perlow found that time pressures lead “to a crisis mentality.” The stress of time urgency activates the emotional center of the brain, and when it does, rational decision-making gets hijacked by the raw emotion and panic of our ancient caveman brain, the amygdala, which goes into fight-or-flight mode.
You can take the crisis and frenzy out of the day by opting out of the time urgent habit. Patience isn’t just a virtue; it’s a necessity for avoiding needless stress.