Explore the causes of rushing and find out how you can rush less.
Sometimes we genuinely race against the clock, such as when we try to catch a flight. Yet many people rush daily as they try to accomplish every task on their to-do lists. But what exactly is rushing?
We can define rushing as the behavioral output associated with the perception of a time shortage (Szollos, 2009). In simpler terms, when we feel pressed for time, we react by rushing so that we can get things done quicker. This reaction makes sense when we are genuinely short on time, such as when we run to our gate at the airport minutes before our flight is scheduled to take off. Yet, rushing isn’t warranted for many activities we do in a state of haste.
To figure out whether we should rush or not, we need to understand why we feel the need to rush. Only then can we start to rush less.
Causes of Rushing
You might be hurrying from one task to another, but have you ever considered what might be the real reasons why you are always in a rush? Here are some of the most common causes of rushing.
Societal Expectations and Norms: Some societies, such as the United States, consider busyness as a sign of productivity and status (Bellezza, Paharia, & Keinan, 2017). In these societies, people believe that the busier they are, the more productive and successful they appear. Hence, many of us pack our schedules with numerous tasks and allocate the bare minimum time commitment to each item.
Self-Importance: Do you know anyone who never seems to have time for you or rushes through anything they do with others? Some people rush through their social interactions to proclaim their stature. In other words, these individuals see rushing as a means to validate their self-importance.
Lack of Prioritization: Sometimes we misjudge the value and significance of the tasks on our to-do lists and fail to prioritize them. As a result, we act as if everything is an emergency that must be done immediately.
Procrastination: Procrastination may appear similar to lack of prioritization since it is another form of time misuse. However, in this case, an individual may spend their time mostly doing trivial things while delaying truly essential tasks until the last moment.
Impatience: Some of us are not quite as patient as others. Hence, when we don’t have the patience to do most things, we rush through our tasks to get to the results as quickly as possible.
How to Rush Less
Now that we understand the major causes and consequences of rushing, we can address them to help us slow down and enjoy everything we do better. Here are some tips to get you started.
Prioritize. Not everything on your to-do list is an emergency. Surely, some of your tasks are more important and urgent than others. Try to figure out which tasks need to be completed soon and focus your energy on completing those.
Manage your time. Time management is essential for getting everything done on time. Do you have a big project due next month? Try working on it for about an hour every day, so you don’t rush to finish it a few days before it is due. Using a calendar to plan your week or month can help you divide large projects into smaller chunks.
Be open about your time restrictions. Sometimes we take on more tasks than we can handle. If you have more things to do than you can handle, you may feel the need to rush. Say no if you need to and set boundaries when necessary.
Be mindful. Sometimes it is hard to be patient when all we want is to reach our goals. But practicing mindfulness can help you understand what is happening around you and give you a deep appreciation of the process.
Rethink your recurring tasks. Are you struggling with getting domestic chores done? If you live with others, consider asking them to help more or start taking turns. You may also think about how often you need to do specific tasks.
Expect the unexpected. Try to be ready for unknowns such as a traffic jam on your way to a meeting, a medical emergency in your busiest week, or a missing ingredient for a meal. Allowing extra time for the items on your to-do list can help you avoid the additional stress caused by hurdles and still get done on time without rushing.
Don’t multitask. Our brains can process one thing at a time. Unless your secondary task demands no attention, you might want to refrain from multitasking.
Slow down. Finally, consider slowing down and processing all available information when working on a task. Hasty decisions may lead to regret in the long run.
Many of us hurry to get things done as quickly as possible. Doing so may mean that we don’t get to enjoy the process and make mistakes along the way. Rushing less can lower our stress levels, reduce errors in our tasks, prevent us from burnout, and increase our life satisfaction and well-being. If we understand why we rush, we can find ways to slow things down and smell the roses. We hope you took your time reading this article and found a few nuggets of wisdom that might help you rush less.
Bellezza, S., Paharia, N., & Keinan, A. (2017). Conspicuous consumption of time: When busyness and lack of leisure time become a status symbol. Journal of Consumer Research, 44(1), 118-138.
Szollos, A. (2009). Toward a psychology of chronic time pressure: Conceptual and methodological review. Time & Society, 18(2-3), 332-350.