Early in the morning, a to-do list runs through my mind before I open my eyes wide and leave the bed.
And when I go back to bed in the night, I feel exhausted by running the tasks one needs for living—work, housework, personal care, family and friends. All these things make me feel pressed for time. I end up feeling that I don't have enough time in a day.
I don’t know if it is a sense of accomplishment that drives or it has become a lifestyle to go for more and more, and at the end feeling that I don’t have enough time to do what I want to do.
Time feels scarce, a struggle to hold the clock. You rush around to finish one task to another without realizing how time slips away.
At times, conflicting situations arise like deciding between your meeting time and taking your child to the park, working odd hours to meet deadlines or attending a much-needed family get together.
Being surrounded by conflicting tasks where you are trying to achieve more and more and feeling as if you aren’t making it has become a norm. Sometimes you don’t even get to know how you spent your day, or even a holiday. All you know is that it felt hectic.
Why are we pressed for time?
We can blame clocks that we have limited 24 hours and we can’t expand our day; the other reason for feeling a time crunch could reside deep in our psychology that how do we perceive time.
How do you perceive time
Often we’re caught in a fire between things we truly want and things we need to do.
For example, you started a side hustle beside your day job. You chauffeured around your children to different classes to prove you’re a super mom. You also have aging parents who want to see you on the weekend. You feel guilty that you’re not using your time to build your business, or devote more time to your family.
When you don’t do one thing, you feel you’re not living up to one set of expectations, if you don’t do something else, you’re also not living up to another set of expectations.
Is the time pressure an illusion?
When something is as valuable as time, we perceive it to be scarcer. Besides, it also depends on your attitude and mindset that to how you perceive time. These could be the probable reason for why you have tight time stress.
The belief that time is money
We believe that the go-to answer to happiness is money, because earning money means buying more stuff. And if time is not yielding us money, then it’s not worthy.
You want to use time to gain external validation, focusing mainly on the outcome without thinking about the journey to get there. When you get more time in your hand, you want to do more, achieve more. You might be foregoing sleep and exercise to earn those extras, and only a handful of hours outside work to enjoy it.
You feel optimistic at the start, but when things get tough, you can’t find the energy to keep it going.
If you feel overworked—and have less free time—it mostly has to do with yourselves. So figure out, is it a real stopwatch pressure or an unnecessary pressure you put on yourself?
Having a reactive style
Reactive style of dealing with the day increases your stress level as you feel like you have less control over your day.
While actively planning your day could give you respite, days where you plan, schedule, structure and manage your day ahead gives you a longer breather.
Not enjoying what you do
I like good food that increases my kitchen visits, but I feel stressed when I am in the kitchen. Cooking is definitely not therapeutic for me, because I have to be there every day. While cooking distresses my husband, he gets into the flow and feels a sense of accomplishment.
Well, this happens when you visit once in a while. Otherwise, repetitive daily chores feel less cheering.
Which means that if you feel short on time, you might simply not be enjoying the activities that fill up your schedule. When you’re having fun, time flies.
Similarly, at work, when you are passionate, you aspire to do things that matter, and you aren’t as rushed and harried as others who don’t enjoy it.
Dealing with conflicting priorities
So, time pressure isn’t just about how enjoyable our activities are, but also how well they fit together in our heads.
Should you put in longer hours to get ahead on a project this week, or would you be better off if you got eight hours of sleep?
Should you cook a healthy meal or finish the work at hand?
Should you save money or buy some nice stuff?
Work more or spend time with family?
Such conflicting priorities from different aspects of your life inevitably compete and increase your stress levels, making you feel anxious, and in turn, shorter on time.
So if your to-do list feels like a herd of hungry felines all in competition for your one can of food, it’s no wonder you’re overwhelmed.
Losing a sense of control
Do you feel like you are the master of your fate, or do you feel like you’re at the mercy of external forces?
It may be harder for you to seize back a sense of control over your schedule. You planned to exercise, but some work robbed you of your determination.
If this describes you, it may be challenging for you to seize back a sense of control over your schedule.
Try what you can do to gain a sense of control over your time. Saying no to people who ask for undue favors or optimizing your to-do list can help.
When it comes to time pressure, most of us are hounded with the feeling of not having enough time, or dealing with anxiety of not having time for self. Our hours are largely consumed by work; precious minutes go in for the daily list of to-dos. The discrepancy in the way we wish we had spent our time—and how we end up spending it—makes us feel staggered.
The key is to take the time to reflect, and ask yourself how and what you want in life. Filling up your activities that seem productive, but don’t actually contribute toward the life that you want takes you toward burnout.
There’s no point chasing achievements that lead to a miserable outcome. That's why feeling that we don’t have enough time to do what we want to do turn out to be somewhat subjective.
Do you also feel pressed for time? Leave your reply in the comment section, we love to hear from you.