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The Price of Rushing Around

The effect it has on our physical, emotional, and social well-being.

Key points

  • Rushing may be appropriate in accomplishing a primary goal but may still take a heavy toll.
  • Some people may experience stress and anxiety when having to act swiftly or make quick decisions.
  • Technological advances have increased our need to keep up with developments and respond quickly.

Do you feel as if your life is one where you’re always, or at least frequently, feeling “rushed?” For example, are you running around, trying to complete a number of tasks, such as grocery shopping; picking up the children, dashing in and out of places you have to go to, driving over the speed limit because you are late for work or an appointment, speed reading the newspaper, or cutting conversations short because you have so much to do?

Time constraints and information gathering and deliberation

This type of “rushed” life can be highly stressful and anxiety-provoking because we view time as a commodity that cannot be wasted. The problem is that we pay a high price for this. So many of us have decided that certain obligations must be met, no matter the consequences. Unfortunately, we have identified more obligations than the time we have available to meet them. Such a dilemma can cause the time-constrained individual to make decisions based on limited data by simply choosing the most obvious option (e.g., buying the first product you see instead of comparing its quality, price, or size with similar others).

But could there be other reasons for behaving in what seems like a “rushed manner” and not deliberating or using judgment for our decisions as to what we should do? In situations where passion is involved, there is less consideration and, therefore, less time spent thinking about what to do. Passion develops when the person values, likes, and is willing to spend time and energy on the task (Thorgren & Wincent, 2013). Moreover, if the person enjoys or finds the activity interesting or important, what others think is not necessarily going to affect their behavior. Because of the inherent nature of passion, engaging in these activities is protective of the person’s identity and self-worth.

On the other hand, when passion is not an issue, the importance of how one is viewed by others can play a part in “rushed behavior,” particularly in daily social interactions. Protzko and colleagues (2019) found that under conditions when there is time pressure, people will respond according to social norms; they won’t “rock the boat.” That is, they will not ask for more time or more information to get a better idea of the issue. This is certainly so if the person wants “to appear good to others." Moreover, this is true if the person believes they are “virtuous.”

Issues stemming from “rushing”

Unfortunately, too many of us do not spend time on our health. Often, our justification for not exercising, watching our diet, following up on our physician’s health recommendations, or even going to the doctor is that we are so busy and do not have the time (Strazdins et al., 2015). Although this may be true in most instances, it nevertheless increases our health risks. In fact, rushing-around behavior can produce fatigue and leave one vulnerable to compromising their immune system. The stress from rushing can also render people susceptible to organ damage, sleep disturbance, and mental health problems.

Technology also plays a role in influencing our behavior. With the advent of working remotely from home, it may be difficult to know when to stop and direct our time to other priorities. In addition, for many employees, their experience of work productivity has also been impacted. We have moved into a world with increasing expectations.

Communication, consumption, and work production have all increased, thereby leading to a fundamental shift in expectations. Strazdins and colleagues found that “a third of our sample reported that they often or always felt rushed and of those who rush, 60 percent are also time poor." Rushing is found to appear in both “being on time” and “saving time.” This leads to poorer mental health and less physical activity. The authors also found that people who have heavy work and other time-consuming activities (e.g., travel or caregiving) tend to rush. They may do so not only to keep up with the demands but also to increase their free time.

We have all benefitted from the technological advantages that have improved efficiency and productivity in many spheres of life. However, all good things usually have a downside.

  • How much and what have we relinquished to achieve these advancements?
  • How many expectations have we placed on ourselves, in addition to how many others have placed on us?
  • Have we allotted enough time to achieve the expectations?
  • How patient have we been with time delays?
  • Have we incorporated the time element into our equation of meeting the various demands expected of us and our ability to take care of ourselves physically, emotionally, socially, and financially?

We have come to expect instantaneous results and feel frustrated and/or harried when they are not met. There is also pressure to accomplish more in less time, and so we may have to rush and sacrifice activities that bring us pleasure, satisfaction, or respite from the various demands in our life. Something always has to give, and often it is our “downtime” as well as opportunities to engage in enjoyable activities.

Feeling rushed is common. The solution is not to eliminate our responsibilities or that which enhances our productivity but to find a balance that also meets our mental and physical health needs. We should continue to strive to be the person we want to be, but we should do so in a healthy way, as well as find the time to enjoy our lives.


Protzko, J., Zedelius, C, M., & Schooler, J. W. (2019). Rushing to appear virtuous: time pressure increases socially desirable responding. Psychological Science, 30(11), 1584-1591. doi: 10.1177/0956797619867939.

Strazdins, L., Welsh, J., Korda, R., Broom, D., & Paolucci, F. (2016), Not all hours are equal: could time be a social determinant of health? Sociology of Health & Illness, 38(1), 21-42. doi: 10.1111/1467-9566.12300

Thorgren, S., & Wincent, J. (2013). Passion and challenging goals: drawbacks of rushing into goal-setting processes. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 43(11), 2318–2329 DOI:10.1111/JASP.12181

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