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Why hurry is compromising you and the signs to look out for

Spoiler alert: no matter how fast you go, you'll never have enough time.


At least that’s what it will feel like if you just keep pushing on, keep hurrying and harrying, keep living in the fast lane.

Think about the projects you’ve worked on over the past week, do you feel a sense of satisfaction, or having achieved something good? Or simply relief they are out the way and you can hustle on to the next one?

That constant churn, no matter how ‘successful’ it’s making you, the chances are it’s not making you fulfilled. And it’s probably not making you perform at your best either.

The danger of hurry

It’s natural that when there’s a deadline looming, or you feel like you’ve got too much on you plate you look to speed things up. But rather than making you more effective, it could make things worse. As a piece in Psychology Today puts it, ‘When we operate at full speed, we send a physiological message to ourselves causing an adrenaline and cortisol surge which can make us impatient, anxious, irritable and nauseous.’ Not the ideas state for clear and clever thinking.

To get a grip of your ‘hurry up’ driver you need to be able to spot when it’s happening, which isn’t always easy in the heat of the moment.

John Mark Comer outlines the key warning signs that you might need to shift your approach in his book ‘The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry’.

Do you recognise any of these symptoms of ‘hurry sickness’?

Irritability: You get mad and frustrated and even small things annoy you – especially in those closest to you.

Hypersensitivity: Just a badly worded email or an off the cuff comment is enough to ruin your day and make you angry, anxious, or just emotionally drained.

Restlessness: If you try and slow down, you can’t. When you attempt quiet time, it’s impossible to focus.

Refusal to stop: Even when your partner, kids, or social occasions need your time, you just can’t step away from work.

Emotional numbness: You struggle to tune in to how you, or others, are feeling. You haven’t got time or feel like you’re in a fog.

Struggle to prioritise: You get sucked into whatever is urgent not what is important – you might even have lost track of what that is.

Neglecting wellness: Sleep, diet, physical and mental wellbeing just aren’t your priority – you feel run down and get sick often.

Look to escape: Overeating, drinking too much, binge-watching, binge-scrolling, whatever your distraction of choice you’re doing lots of it.

Isolation: You feel disconnected and even when you’re with family or friends you’re looking at your phone or checking your to-do list.

If a few of these seem familiar you’re probably suffering from ‘hurry sickness.’ It’s natural, especially when you’re leading a business, to feel like always need to be ‘on’, to want to feel ‘needed’ by your team and the business, and to enjoy the rush of being an integral cog in the wheel. But when there’s a fine line between the rush of intense productivity and the hurry of overwhelm.

The hurry epidemic

And if you’re in the midst of hurry sickness there’s a good chance that you’re causing a hurry epidemic in your team. A culture of unrealistic deadlines and workloads, promoting stress by emphasising a need to speed up, always appearing ‘busy’, and rewarding long hours.

It’s all too easy to trigger hurry stress and spread it across your team, as leaders it’s vital to model behaviours we want to see mirrored across our business.


Getting balance

Get yourself on the right track and the team will follow. It’s ok to admit you’re going to have times where you need to fit more in – and at those times things might feel hurried and full pelt, but it should only be a transitory state and during them look to delegate the less vital stuff.

Even in the busiest of times try to take some time out to eat well and get some fresh air. A blast of just 15 minutes can make all the difference. And when you’re not in the short periods of going full pelt slow down, take stock and prioritise, the more you do it the less you’ll feel shackled to the ‘hurry’ impulse.

When it comes to your team promote positive norms – ensure schedules and deadlines are realistic and consider all perspectives, establish boundaries around working hours, encourage discussions around stress and workloads, and promote a culture of productivity not perceived busyness.

The next time you feel like there just isn’t enough time, like you need to put in the hours and make every one count, question why – is it because it’s critical to the business? To your team’s success? To your happiness? If it’s not, take a step back and slow down, your future self will thank you for it.