Urgent: Slow down to control hurry sickness

Column by Andrea W. Doray
Posted 6/16/21

Do you count the cars in front of you and always move to the line that seems to go faster? Do you check out the items in grocery carts ahead of you and calculate which check-out lane will move …

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Urgent: Slow down to control hurry sickness

Posted

Do you count the cars in front of you and always move to the line that seems to go faster? Do you check out the items in grocery carts ahead of you and calculate which check-out lane will move faster? Do you chronically feel short on time and try to accomplish every task faster, only to get irritated with any kind of delay?

If so, then you – as I do – might have hurry sickness.

Yes, hurry sickness is a real thing. However, hurry sickness, sometimes called excessive time urgency, is not disorder or a diagnosis, and it’s not an actual medical or mental health condition.

But it is a compulsion I often have trouble managing.

By definition, hurry sickness is “a behavior pattern characterized by continual rushing and anxiousness and an overwhelming, persistent sense of urgency – even when there’s no need to be moving so fast.”

I experience hurry sickness in pretty much every aspect of my life. At work, hurry sickness takes the form of multi-tasking, which is probably doing more harm than good.

Stanford University research found that people who are “regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.” Hmmm …

I often have trouble differentiating between when the urgency is real – such as getting to the airport to catch a flight – and when it isn’t. Even small, everyday things such as shopping, eating or (especially) driving feel like a race to me.

And sometimes, focusing on just one thing can feel almost unbearable. In fact, I have an actual list called “things to do while doing something else.” This might look like playing solitaire on my phone while eating lunch or sorting and deleting photos while binge-watching episodes of “House.” There’s no telling what I’ll squeeze in while waiting on something in microwave!

I’ve been driven by extreme time urgency for most of my adult life … I feel perpetually behind schedule, and there never seem to be enough hours in a day to accomplish what I need to do. Often, no matter how much I do get done, I feel as though as I’m playing catch-up.

Fortunately, there’s lots (and lots) of advice for getting hurry sickness – and its resultant anxiety — under control. I’ve selected a few here that I’m going to work on:

Wake up with enough time to enjoy a cup a coffee before I start work. I log on in the early a.m. to connect with colleagues across multiple time zones, so allowing for time between bolting out of bed and booting up the computer sounds like a better way to start the morning.

Practice mindfulness, even if it’s just a few breaths to help me focus on what’s going on in the moment, such as navigating the interstate, participating in a conference call, or simply watering my flowers.

Embrace self-care … sleep, hydration, nutrition, relaxation and exercise. All I can say here is that I’m trying.

But perhaps the most important remedy for the pressure and angst of my hurry sickness to make sure my friendships and relationships a priority. I am most nourished when I connect with the people I love and admire, and I’ve missed you.

Andrea Doray is a writer who just learned that the “close door” button in the elevator is most likely just a light bulb anyway. Contact Andrea at a.doray@andreadoray.com.

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