“Lost time is never found again” is probably Benjamin Franklin’s most famous time quote. This implies that time is a limited resource that cannot be recovered. People steal and are robbed of time; they lose time while having all the time in the world. Yet, none of us has the power to stop or slow the passage of time.

Whether going to a movie, a party, or something else, failing to arrive on time may be unpleasant; it’s also stressful and produces anxiety. People under constant pressure to arrive on time for every event develop a persistent sense of uneasiness. 

Despite trying every productivity strategy and time management technique, some people can’t help feeling that time is running out. They develop a feeling of never having enough time to meet their objectives or being unable to maximize the time they do have. As a result, they start feeling anxious about time.

Time anxiety is more than just a temporary increase in workday stress. It haunts people’s days and causes them to lose focus on essential aspects.

Time, unlike other aspects of our lives, is beyond our control. So, how does one deal with and overcome the anxiety caused by time’s uncontrollable nature? This guide will discuss time anxiety and how to deal with it. 

What Is Time Anxiety?

Topics relating to mental and emotional well-being are no longer considered taboo. Once discussed in hushed tones, mental health issues are discussed freely in the open. Time anxiety can be a symptom of a deeper psychological issue and should be addressed.

In simple terms, time anxiety is the fear of wasting time, an obsession with spending one’s time in the most meaningful way possible. It is the belief that there is not enough time to achieve one’s goals or that time will be lost forever without doing something meaningful. 

Increased exposure to social media and an external locus can give rise to unrealistic goals. People start to believe that they are wasting time if they have not accomplished the targets they have set for themselves within their strict timelines.

Sometimes, people suffering from time anxiety may waste time on day-to-day tasks. Procrastination may also be a significant hurdle when controlling time issues. So, is it possible to stop worrying about time? Let’s find it out.

To understand why someone feels such terrible time anxiety, they must first acknowledge their relationship with time. Time may have been meaningless in their childhood days with unorganized days, moving from one day to another with no concrete agenda.

As they approach enter their teen years, time becomes more critical. They have school, friends, sports, and other hobbies that keep them busy. Furthermore, they are frequently reminded that “wasting time” now will ruin their future.

Then, all of a sudden, time becomes their most valuable resource. They have college, work, families, and a variety of other serious responsibilities that demand their attention and time as adults. 

As we grow older, time becomes something we must try to control and make the most of. However, the truth is slightly different. The more we focus on our limited time, the narrower it feels. 

In other words, the more people worry about time, the more time appears to be a concern. That is why one cannot simply tell someone to stop worrying about time. Therefore, it becomes essential to figure out the symptoms of time anxiety and how it may affect your life. 

What Do Time Anxiety Symptoms Look Like?

A constant need to rush

When people are anxious about time, they may feel compelled to rush from one place to the next, often for no apparent reason. This is the feeling people experience when they oversleep and wake up with their hearts pounding and stressed about the time, even if they have no plans to go anywhere.

Overly concerned about being late

Anxiety about being late can result from a lack of time management. It’s natural to want to be on time because being late can negatively impact one’s success at school or work. However, stress over potential lateness can keep people on edge. Also, if and when they are late for something, it affects their mood because they become irritated or angry, even if it is for something not too important.

Afraid of missing out on opportunities. 

People who have time anxiety because of big-picture concerns may feel they have missed out on specific, meaningful opportunities. For example, if they have not achieved specific social and economic benchmarks such as getting married, purchasing a car/home, and so on that they “should” have accomplished by their age, they may be upset and concerned that they will never catch up.

How Do Time Anxiety Symptoms Manifest? 

Daily or current time anxiety

It is the constant feeling of continuously hustling and still never having enough time in a day. This can result in overwhelming stress, often leading to panic attacks. 

Future time anxiety

These are the hypothetical “what if” questions, thoughts, and fears about what might or might not happen in the future. Time anxiety can make people feel paralyzed as they start considering everything that may or may not occur in the future due to their actions today.

Existential time anxiety

This is when people reflect on the lost time that they’ll never be able to get back. They generally fear having a finite amount of time to pursue their goals. No matter how quickly people race forward, existential anxiety can sometimes create a sense of panic.

Aside from time anxiety, chronophobia is similar to existential dread since it signifies the passing of time and the fear of time.

Let’s dive deeper to explore this phenomenon.

What Is Chronophobia?

Chronophobia is a severe aversion to the passage of time.

When people with this anxiety disorder think about the passage of time, they experience intense discomfort or anxiety. Some people become obsessed with time or with crossing days off the calendar.

What Are the Symptoms Of Chronophobia?

Chronophobia can cause fear, dread, and anxiety for various reasons. This phobia can be triggered by events such as birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries. People with chronophobia may sometimes feel disconnected from their bodies, known as derealisation/depersonalization disorder. They may experience a random sense of time speeding up or slowing down.

How Can One Deal With Time Anxiety & Stop Being Anxious About Time?

Accepting a few truths is necessary to stay in control of daily time and lifetime. There is no changing the fact that time exists and cannot be altered. Time will pass, and people will, too. Accepting these simple but intimidating truths is the first step toward reducing time anxiety. 

One can begin implementing strategies based on awareness, conceptual understanding, and action. Below are some steps and strategies to overcome time anxiety and stop being anxious about time.

Recognize Your Relationship With Time

Time anxiety develops when people ignore or attempt to manipulate how time affects their day. Therefore, it becomes essential for people to recognize their relationship with time. 

First and foremost, one must remember and be aware that time exists. Second, they have no control over how time works, so they can neither slow it down nor hold it back.

This may appear to be a ridiculous first step, but recognizing the impact of time on their life is an effective way to reduce anxiety and begin moving forward.

Make Time For The Things That Are Important To You

Time anxiety can be devastating, and the worst thing a person can do is sit back and wait for encouragement to spend their time more wisely. In other words, one must take action to feel happy and motivated.

Making a long list of things to do with so little time in the day only increases anxiety and stress. They must try to plan their day in a time-efficient manner and decide how they will fit everything they need into their day. They do not need to be concerned about how much time they have to devote to these activities; they need to make an effort to implement them into their daily routine.

Define What It Means To Spend Time Well

As previously stated, such anxiety stems from the belief that you are not spending your time wisely. Before taking corrective action, an individual must first define what it means to spend time well.

Without overthinking the feasibility of the result, the next step is to sit down and consider what truly makes you happy. Remember that the point is not the outcome but how you spend your time. For example, one should not consider how happy they would be if they were to publish a book. Instead, they should think about whether they truly enjoy writing.

In other words, the output must be regarded rather than the outcome.

Eliminate Distractions

Another strategy to stop being anxious about time is to eliminate time-wasting distractions. In today’s world, people spend time aimlessly scrolling through social media platforms, browsing the internet, gossiping, etc. These activities consume time and take away precious moments that could be well spent doing things that can make one happy. As a result, it eventually adds more anxiety & stress to people. 

The time spent on such activities that take away moments that could be spent doing things that make a time-anxious person happy eventually adds much more anxiety and stress to their lives.

To overcome this, one should conduct a quick audit of one’s content consumption preferences and reduce the amount of time spent on activities that won’t add happiness, fun, and motivation to one’s life. 

Maintain A Journal Of Your Time Anxiety

To control time anxiety, one must write down their anxious moments and define what they were doing at the time and the emotions they experienced during the anxiety attack. This will give them a much better understanding of what’s causing this stress. It will also help minimize overthinking and relieve stress. Furthermore, they will be able to avoid similar incidents in the future.

Enhance Time Management Abilities

When people get stressed, time is probably their worst enemy. Therefore, learning how to manage their time better to make peace with it becomes essential. As a result, their time management skills will improve. Here are some suggestions:

  • Effective planning
  • Ensure that their goals are SMART — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound
  • Practise single-tasking rather than dealing with multiple tasks at once
  • Manage stress levels by experimenting with stress-relieving strategies while working

These time management techniques may not be easy at first, but implementing this regularly can help one to overcome time anxiety.

Time anxiety is common, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone wants to make the best use of their time. But worrying about the available time on our hands will do us more harm than good. So, to overcome time anxiety and stop being anxious about time, people must be realistic about their time, know what makes them feel successful, and make time for essential life activities. This will help them relax and gradually let go of their time anxiety.