Modern-day urban life can be hectic. Millions of people are constantly busy and always in a hurry. They race against time, which can have long-term effects on their physical and mental health.
A typical response to this situation is to feel overwhelmed, stressed out, and worried that there is not enough time for what we want to do. It is called time anxiety, affecting more or less everyone juggling multiple professional and personal activities.
Good time management is an antidote to time anxiety. To manage your time, you must first understand how you spend it throughout the day. Automatic time tracking tools, such as our Timing for macOS users, provide detailed reports of your activities. With Timing, you don’t have to remember to start, pause or stop timers since it records your time automatically.
You can track time to the second and use the recorded data to identify distractions and productivity issues in your daily work. Timing helps you understand where your time goes and gives you complete control over the deep-level data you can’t gather with manual time tracking. What’s best, you can download Timing and start a 30-day free trial today.
In this article, we’ll discuss the reasons for time anxiety and how it affects your mental health. We’ll also explain how time tracking helps you overcome time anxiety and focus on meaningful activities. Before we share our tips for overcoming time anxiety, let’s define what it is.
What is time anxiety?
Image author: José Martín Ramírez Carrasco
Time anxiety is the overwhelming feeling that you always run out of time and lag with short-term and long-term life goals. For example, work stress can be one of the causes of time anxiety. A spike in your workload is temporary, and you can overcome it by putting in more effort or recruiting help. Time anxiety, however, spans professional and personal life. It is more about how you reflect on your progress with your life goals.
Here are a few examples of situations and scenarios that can cause time anxiety:
- You have reached a milestone age with spectacular career achievements but haven’t started a family yet
- You are a young, energetic, and ambitious freelancer who finds it hard to balance work-life, time for your friends, and hobbies that make you happy
- Your career has plateaued, you lost some of your significant clients due to poor management, and you wonder if all past sacrifices were worth it
The list isn’t exhaustive but illustrates how particular life situations can cause time anxiety. Now, let’s see why time anxiety occurs and how you can battle against it.
Why does time anxiety happen?
Image author: Ono Kosuki
Time is limited and non-renewable. We only have a finite amount of time to complete a task or a project. Also, we have limited time on earth in the long term and need to make the best of it.
People need a broad sense of purpose and meaning, but the time to fulfill that purpose is a scarce resource. Combine these limitations with the hectic modern-day life, and you get ideal conditions for time anxiety to emerge.
There are two main reasons for time anxiety:
- Time flows linearly, cannot be taken back, and is limited
- People’s tendency to worry too much about time limitations
As you can see, the first reason is objective. There are 24 hours per day which we must split between working, time with family, time for ourselves, sleeping and eating. Time allocation is quite challenging, which brings us to the second reason. It is the subjective way we cope with natural time limitations.
The deeper our concern with limited time, the more acute the time scarcity seems. It forces people to worry too much about perceived time waste and develop time anxiety.
What are the symptoms of time anxiety?
Before we list the symptoms of time anxiety, let’s clarify something important. Don’t confuse time anxiety with time pressure. Most people have many time-sensitive things to finish, and a practical sense of urgency can be good. It helps prioritize tasks and make achievements.
Time anxiety comes when the sense of wasting precious time begins to dominate your everyday life. You should pay attention to the following time anxiety symptoms:
- Overwhelming feelings about decisions that don’t have a lasting impact
- Overthinking plans for the future
- Constant nervousness and inability to relax
- Inability to concentrate
- Panic attacks
- Perceiving every wasted minute as a threat to your goals
Some of these signs can trigger a chain reaction that ends with physical symptoms. For example, the inability to concentrate affects productivity, and you have to work longer hours to get things done. Overworking leads to chronic fatigue, which further reduces the ability to concentrate, etc. It all creates a vicious cycle that affects your overall well-being.
How time anxiety affects mental health
Obsession with wasting time is a classic sign of time anxiety. The paradox is that the more you worry about time scarcity, the more limited time seems to be. It isn’t just a psychological issue. Too much thinking about time deficiency depletes the time you could otherwise spend on things that make you happy. Time anxiety stands in your way to happiness, and failing to achieve satisfaction is a catalyst for mental health issues like depression.
What are the forms of time anxiety?
There are three forms of time anxiety depending on the scale on which you experience time scarcity.
Current time anxiety
Current time anxiety is the feeling that 24 hours a day are barely enough to do everything on your extra-busy schedule. It results in constant hurry and stress. Current time anxiety occurs when you are overwhelmed in the present and forced to put extra effort into managing everything on time.
Future time anxiety
Future time anxiety makes you overthink all your actions and decisions due to fear of failure in the future. Overthinking takes too much time and effort and is counterproductive despite your wish to get things right and enjoy positive future results. People with this form of time anxiety also reflect too much on their past decisions and often feel they haven’t done enough to deserve the future they wanted.
Existential time anxiety
Existential time anxiety stems from the knowledge that your time on earth is limited. No matter how hard you push forward and how much you achieve, your life will end eventually. It creates a sense of dread powered by the feeling that time is slipping away and is lost for good.
Time anxiety statistics in 2022
People with anxiety disorders experience intense worry about daily life situations. Our relationship with time is one of many contexts in which an anxiety disorder can develop.
Also, anxiety as a human emotion is not equal to an anxiety disorder. It’s natural to feel anxious about potential dangers or significant events. However, with anxiety disorders, nervousness and apprehension are out of proportion, controlling and dominating people’s lives for a long time.
That said, time anxiety is not a medical term, but our feelings about time and external time pressure can be anxiety-inducing. Here are some recent insights from surveys on anxiety disorders that can give you an idea about the spread and vulnerable groups:
- Over 18% of the US adult population ($40 million people) are affected by anxiety disorders, making them the most common mental illness
- The most common anxiety disorders are specific phobias (19 million affected), followed by Social Anxiety Disorder (15 million affected)
- Treatment of anxiety is effective and available, yet only 36.9% of affected people receive it
- Anxiety affects more women than men (23% vs 14%)
- According to a screening survey by Mental Health America, during the peak of the COVID19 pandemic in 2020, the number of respondents who reported signs of anxiety increased by 634% in just 9 months
- In 2022 around 27% of US respondents report recent anxiety symptoms
Now that you understand the problem with time anxiety, let’s see if it relates to your profession.
Job occupations that trigger time anxiety
Image author: ThisIsEngineering
We identified seven criteria to define a job as anxiety-inducing. To fuel time anxiety disorder, an occupation must fit one or more points below:
- It involves a lot of time-sensitive tasks with short deadlines
- It includes unrealistic targets
- It requires juggling multiple projects or clients
- It requires constant alertness to rapid changes
- It involves uncertainty and high-risk decisions
- It includes working extra hours
- It involves working across multiple time zones
Based on the criteria above, we can list some professions that can trigger or worsen time anxiety:
- Stock traders
- Event organizers
- Freelance designers, developers, and copywriters
- Sales managers
- Marketing professionals
- Account managers
As you can see, some professions include more than one stress factor, which can cause further mental health problems and anxiety disorders.
10 ways how time tracking helps you overcome time anxiety disorder
One of the recommended ways to deal with time anxiety is to spend more time on activities that make you happy and minimize the time spent on distractions. How to track time spent during the day? Automatic time tracking will help you.
1. It helps you understand where your time goes
Time tracking helps you keep a detailed record of all activities during the day. It is beneficial if you spend most of your time online. A good time tracking tool will also give you options to record fieldwork time with your mobile device. With detailed time tracking, you don’t only learn which tasks take most of your time, but also what distracts you from achieving maximum productivity.
2. It helps you find the root cause of your time anxiety
To avoid constant time pressure, you must know what’s causing it. Is it a hectic schedule that doesn’t allow you to catch your breath? Is it low productivity that keeps you from finishing your tasks on time? Are procrastination and distractions forcing you to always rush at the last minute? Detailed time tracking will give you the answers to all these questions and help you address these issues.
3. It helps you reduce wasting time on unimportant activities
Once you know what time wasters and irrelevant activities take your precious time, you can take action to reduce their impact. Conscious effort to avoid distractions is key to freeing up more time for the things that matter. Time tracking helps put that effort in the right direction.
4. It teaches you to prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency
Time wasters are not the only factor that affects how well we spend our time. The ability to follow priorities and allocate more time to important tasks is critical to our success with time management. Again, automatic time tracking shows how we split our time between high, mid, and low priority tasks.
5. It keeps you on track with deadlines
Time tracking provides you with data on time spent on priority tasks, so you can meet deadlines consistently. Priorities and deadlines go hand in hand. It’s perfectly reasonable to do priority tasks first and ignore everything else until you are free to take on other tasks. Then you can select your next task, again, based on the priority and deadline.
6. It helps you create better work habits
Avoiding time-wasters, keeping priorities in check, and hitting deadlines are work habits significant for every occupation. These habits help you achieve more and have higher satisfaction with your work.
7. It improves your productivity and efficiency
Everything we have said so far relates to productivity. Productivity depends significantly on the unique skills and knowledge you need for a given job. However, removing distractions significantly increases productivity and reduces the cognitive effort necessary to complete a task. By tracking your productivity using time tracking, you’ll be able to complete your tasks faster and with less effort, ultimately reducing time anxiety.
8. It allows you to measure and track your progress
Time tracking data gives valuable information about how much time you and your team spend working on a given project. It helps a lot with cost control as you can easily match the spent person-hours against the overall budget of the project and the estimated time for completion.
9. It helps you see the bigger picture and avoid feeling overwhelmed
In addition to cost management, time tracking helps by giving a good sense of your overall progress. A single delayed task won’t necessarily slow down the entire project – not if everything else is on track. Reassurance that you have time to deal with setbacks will help you stay focused on resolving the issue instead of panicking about a missed deadline.
10. It helps build confidence in your abilities and skills as a professional
Time tracking is essential for keeping a calm and steady pace and the confidence that you have control. Time tracking data that shows good productivity and priority management are reassuring of your ability to get things done on time. After all, why worry about time when there’s evidence you are using it wisely and have enough of it?
If you want to start using a time tracking tool to get an accurate picture of how you spend your workdays and identify ways to increase efficiency, you can download Timing today and start a 30-day free trial.
Let’s discuss how Timing helps you reduce your anxiety.
Timing has your back and helps you get more done with less stress
Now that we know how time tracking reduces time anxiety, let’s see why Timing is the top time tracking tool you can use to achieve this goal.
1. Set and forget Timing thanks to automatic time tracking
Timing is an automatic time tracking tool that automatically records all the activity on your macOS device. It documents every second of your work on an interactive timeline that shows an overview of how you spend your time.
If you already feel stressed about your workload and short deadlines, remembering to start, pause or stop timers will only increase the pressure. Timing reduces your anxiety and relieves stress by automatically tracking your time on work-related activities, allowing you to focus on your work.
Since you don’t have to remember to use timers or take any action manually, you can be sure you’ll receive a precise overview of your work days. It will help you make informed decisions and further improve your time management.
However, Timing provides manual time tracking as optional, so you can choose what best suits your needs in a given situation for complete control.
2. Get a complete picture of how you spend your workday
All your projects, tasks, and distractions go on record with Timing. It provides information about time allocation and potential areas for improvement. You can use Timing on one Mac device or opt to sync data across multiple Mac devices. In that case, you can be sure that Timing protects your data and doesn’t sell it to third parties.
3. Take control with productivity tracking
Timing helps you spot inefficiencies in your work and enables you to focus on minimizing them. Also, the app provides built-in productivity tracking. You can assign productivity scores to your tasks and watch how the score changes over time.
4. Track time from anywhere
Does your job require on-site visits and work outside the office? With Timing, that’s not a problem. Install the web app on your smartphone and add manual time entries for the hours you spent away from your computer. You can use the web app on your Android or iOS device, so you don’t have to wait until you get back to the office to add time entries.
5. Track time down to the second with comprehensive time reports
Timing provides you with in-depth reports. You have complete control over the level of detail. If you need daily, weekly or monthly overviews, you can see summarized data for the selected time frame. If you want to dive deeper and track your time to the second, you can do that easily.
Timing is also great for teams, thanks to shared projects. Team leaders can see aggregated data from all team member entries without private details. It helps understand team capacity and improve project management without compromising personal privacy.
6. Account time spent on offline and online meetings
With the Timing web app, you can track time on your mobile device even when you are offline. The app will sync the recorded data automatically once you go back online. Also, Timing prompts you to create time entries after every video or audio call, maximizing the accuracy of your timeline record. Last, you can sync your Calendar with Timing, and all your booked meetings will automatically show on your timeline.
7. Worry less about privacy issues
Timing offers outstanding privacy protection. It excels in the following areas:
- Data saved on your computer is entirely out of reach for third parties. Only you can decide whether to share it and with whom.
- Data records in the cloud are heavily encrypted and protected by international regulations like the EU’s GDPR. Also, you can sign a Data Processing agreement that governs the handling of your data.
- Team records are aggregated and show overall time spent on projects. Personal time and private details are not available to managers.
- Last, Timing doesn’t take screenshots and doesn’t record video of your screen.
It ensures that time tracking is safe for the users and doesn’t carry any privacy risks.
Time anxiety: Final words
Time anxiety is a common issue that can escalate to a full-fledged anxiety disorder. Our way of dealing with time scarcity at work can reduce the risk of developing anxiety. Accurate time tracking as a base for time management is a reliable antidote to time anxiety and workday stress in general.
Automatic time tracking with Timing helps you spend time and focus effort on meaningful tasks. It provides valuable time tracking data you can use to optimize your workday and address distractions and inefficiencies. Download Timing for macOS now and start your 30-day free trial.
Time anxiety: FAQ
Here are some frequently asked questions concerning time anxiety and time tracking.
How does time tracking reduce anxiety?
Automatic time tracking helps understand where your time goes. Time tracking records can tell you a lot about your work habits and what improvements you can make. It helps deal with productivity issues and minimize time pressure.
How does time management help with sleep?
Working extra hours is detrimental to your sleep. It takes the time you need to transition between work mode and rest mode. It also increases stress and tension that prevents you from falling asleep. Time management helps reduce overworking, time pressure, and stress by spending time on meaningful activities that help you do your job faster and easier.