How often do you find yourself telling others, or yourself, to hurry up?

I like to think of myself as productive and efficient, but what that often really means is that I have a strong tendency to try and fit too much in, and end up working against the clock. I have a strong ‘Hurry Up’ driver.

Five drivers

Back in 1975 Kahler identified five common driving forces: be perfect, be strong, hurry up, please others, and try hard.

If, like me, you have a Hurry Up driver, you like to get things done quickly and be efficient. This has its benefits, obviously. Hurry Up people tend to be enthusiastic and go getting, and very productive. However, it is very easy to over-do the hurrying, and end up feeling very stressed.

Hurry sickness

A constant sense of urgency and rush has even been defined as ‘hurry sickness’ (by cardiologists Friedman and Rosenman). A more recent piece of research at the London Business School found that 95% of the managers in the study suffered from this. They habitually took on more than they should because they’re good at fitting stuff in.

But if you are in too much of a hurry, you actually become LESS productive. You start to forget things and make mistakes and you lose sight of the big picture. You are producing way too much adrenaline and cortisol, which affects your sleep, as your brain is on constant alert.

When you’re in this state, perspective tends to go out of the window. So, when you become aware that you’re in a hurry up spiral, you have to stop, step back and look at everything you’re doing.

Your mind will try and tell you ‘I’m too busy, I don’t have time to stop and step back.’ But that’s just Troll talk.

Four practical steps to take.

1 Look at everything you have to do and be ruthless about cutting out anything you actually don’t have to do, and postponing anything that will wait. Again, your brain will probably try and tell you there is nothing in either of those two categories.

But there always is- it just might be something you actually want to do. That can be the hardest thing, saying no to those things we actually want to do, but it’s essential to develop that kind of discipline, as well as the kind that powers you on.

2 If someone else is pressuring you do something which isn’t necessary, or which could wait, then you need to get ready to be politely assertive about it. Again, this won’t happen if you’re in too much of a rush, as you’ll just fall back on old patterns, or feel it will take too much effort to negotiate.

3 Then make sure that you plan your day consciously. Don’t multi-task, and don’t start by trying to ‘clear the decks’ of little admin tasks. Get that big job you’ve been avoiding out of the way first, and do the admin when your brain is more tired later in the day.

4 Finally, however much you have to do, and even if you can’t ditch or delegate any of it, SLOW DOWN.

It’s like when you’re going to be 5 minutes late and you find yourself speeding along the motorway. Yes, you might possibly catch up the 5 minutes, but to achieve that you are risking your life, and others’ lives on the road. Even if you get there safely, you are putting your body and mind under enormous, and damaging stress.

The world is not going to end if you take 5 minutes to do some deep breathing, get some perspective, and stop trying to do it all by yesterday.