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Managing time anxiety at work: Tips and strategies

6 min read

Sometimes, you just can’t shake the feeling that time is slipping away. You constantly worry about not having enough time to meet your objectives or make the most of the working day. As a result, you might even begin to experience time anxiety. And this can be a problem because time anxiety is much more than a temporary increase in workday stress. It can cause you to lose focus and have a big impact on productivity.

Have you ever experienced anxiety about wasting time? What about your workforce?

In today’s short guide, we are going to share everything you need to know about time anxiety so that you can develop strategies that can help your employees overcome this issue. That way, you can nurture a more relaxed and productive working environment where your employees can thrive and perform at their best.

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What is time anxiety?

Time anxiety is a psychological condition characterized by a persistent sense of worry, fear, or stress related to the passage of time. With this condition, individuals often feel overwhelmed by the perception that time is slipping away or that they are unable to accomplish their tasks within the allotted time. This anxiety can manifest in various aspects of life, including work, personal commitments, and daily routines.

There are different types of time anxiety:

  • Day. This type of anxiety revolves around feeling overwhelmed and stressed during the day, often due to a perceived lack of time to complete tasks or meet deadlines.
  • Future. Future anxiety is characterized by excessive worry about future time pressures, deadlines, or commitments. Individuals may experience a constant preoccupation with upcoming events or obligations.
  • Existential. This is related to broader existential anxiety about time passing and the meaning of life. It’s about thinking about how time as a general concept is limited and feeling worried about not using it wisely, which can lead to a sense of urgency or restlessness.

What are the symptoms of time anxiety?

The symptoms of time anxiety can manifest in various ways, and individuals may experience a combination of symptoms. Here are some of the most common side effects.

Can you identify with any of these symptoms? Do recognize any of them in your employees?

Constant worry about time anxiety

Employees with time anxiety may experience a constant state of worry. This is where they are consumed with thoughts of not having enough time, impending deadlines, and unmet objectives. This can create a persistent sense of unease and contribute to elevated stress levels throughout the workday.

Feeling overwhelmed

Anxiety about time often leads to a sense of being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tasks, projects, and deadlines that an employee needs to meet within a limited period of time. This overwhelming feeling can make it difficult to stay focused, prioritize effectively, and maintain a sense of control over your workload, contributing to heightened stress levels and reduced productivity.

Restlessness and impatience

When employees experience time anxiety, they often feel restless and can’t stay focused. They have a strong urge to keep moving and can’t sit still because they think time is running out. This makes them impatient as each minute adds more pressure to complete tasks. It creates a feeling of being rushed and agitated, like they’re in a race against time.

Procrastination or hyperactivity

This form of stress can trigger two contrasting responses. Some employees might procrastinate and delay tasks as a result of an overwhelming fear of not having enough time. Others might resort to hyperactivity, engaging in a frenzy of activity to maximize every moment and be productive. Both behaviors stem from a deep-seated unease about time management.

Difficulty prioritizing

Employee time anxiety can make it challenging to effectively prioritize tasks. The overwhelming sense of urgency and pressure to accomplish everything can lead to confusion and indecisiveness. The fear of making the wrong choices or neglecting important responsibilities further complicates the process of determining what tasks should take precedence, causing added stress and inefficiency.

Physical symptoms of time anxiety

It’s not just mental health that can be impacted by anxiety about wasted time. In fact, time anxiety can often manifest physically, too. This might include tension headaches, increased heart rate, difficulty sleeping, gastrointestinal discomfort, or muscle tension. It can also contribute to imposter syndrome in certain cases. And, if left unaddressed, these symptoms can eventually result in employee burnout and require a period of stress leave from work.

How to help your team manage time anxiety

Anxiety about wasting time can be particularly problematic in the workplace, especially when you consider that, according to a survey by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 56% of employees claim that stress and anxiety impacts their performance, and 51% claim that it affects their relationship with their coworkers. If left unaddressed, performance anxiety at work can have a direct impact on your business. That’s why it’s so important to implement measures to reduce time anxiety and improve overall employee mental health.

But where do you start?

Here are a few strategies that you can implement in your organization to help your employees avoid this form of workplace stress.

Collect employee feedback

The first thing to do to identify if there are any employees experiencing this form of anxiety is to collect feedback from your workforce. A time anxiety test can be a useful tool for this.

So, what’s a time anxiety test?

Essentially, this is a type of workplace stress survey that asks specific questions about thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to time management pressures. This can help you gather valuable insights into the level of stress in your workforce and if there are any time wasters that might be impacting employees. This might include feeling overwhelmed by deadlines, a noisy working environment, or struggling with prioritizing tasks.

Promote open communication

Firstly, foster open and transparent communication in your organization. Secondly, encourage employees to voice their concerns, ask for help, and share progress updates. Ultimately, creating clear communication channels like this reduces misunderstandings and facilitates collaboration, preventing unnecessary time-related stress.

Offer employees time management training

Offer time management training sessions or workshops to help team members enhance their skills. For example, you could teach them techniques for prioritization, goal setting, time blocking, and task delegation. Equipping them with effective time management skills like this empowers them to better handle their workload.

Set realistic performance expectations

A common time management challenge that can often lead to anxiety is overloaded schedules and unrealistic deadlines. You should therefore make sure that you and your managers set realistic expectations regarding workloads and deadlines. Also, avoid overloading employees with too many tasks and establish achievable goals and timelines. This will help your employees feel like their workload is more manageable.

Encourage breaks and work-life balance

Encourage regular breaks and time off to prevent burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Also, encourage them to step away from work during non-working hours to prioritize self-care and relaxation.

Additionally, it is essential to recognize the relationship between screen time and anxiety. Encourage employees to take breaks not only from work but also from their devices to promote mental well-being and reduce the potential negative effects of prolonged digital engagement.

Use project management and scheduling tools

Time management and anxiety go hand in hand. Thankfully, anxiety about time management can often be overcome by using the right tools and technology. For example, project management and scheduling tools can help your employees organize their workload, break larger projects into smaller, manageable tasks, set reminders, and track project progress. As a result, they get a sense of control and clarity that can alleviate time-related pressures.

Implement time management tools

Finally, implement time-tracking tools that allow employees to monitor how they spend their time. For example, a time clock or timesheet software can help employees track the start and end times of tasks or projects. Employees and managers can then analyze this data to identify patterns, bottlenecks, and time-consuming activities. This helps employees gain a deeper understanding of how they spend their time so that they can make any necessary adjustments to their work habits.

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Improve time management and alleviate time anxiety

Effective time management techniques, such as prioritizing tasks, setting realistic goals, and creating schedules, enable employees to better manage their time and energy. This reduces the likelihood of feeling overwhelmed and helps prevent last-minute rushes. However, it’s also essential that you use the right time management tools to create a structured system that helps employees better manage their time.

For example, Factorial’s time management software can help employees improve their time management skills and alleviate stress in a number of ways.

This includes:

  • Task and project management. Firstly, employees can use this tool to break down their work into manageable tasks. By organizing and prioritizing tasks in this way, they can gain clarity on what they need to do, reducing the overwhelming feeling of having too much to handle.
  • Time tracking. Secondly, Factorial’s electronic time clock allows employees to monitor how they spend their working hours on different tasks and projects. This helps them identify time-consuming activities, time management inefficiencies, and areas for improvement.
  • Deadlines and reminders. Thirdly, the software includes deadline management and reminder features. That way, employees are aware of upcoming deadlines and important milestones. As a result, they can better plan and allocate their time, minimizing the stress associated with missed deadlines.
  • Collaboration and communication. Finally, Factorial facilitates smooth collaboration and communication among team members, providing much-needed clarity and helping everyone on the team stay informed and aligned.

Ultimately, by leveraging these features, employees can regain control, improve productivity, and reduce the risk of time anxiety in the workplace.

Cat Symonds is a freelance writer, editor, and translator. Originally from Wales, she studied Spanish and French at the University of Swansea before moving to Barcelona where she lived and worked for 12 years. She has since relocated back to Wales where she continues to build her business, working with clients in Spain and the UK.  Cat is the founder of The Content CAT: Content And Translation, providing content development and translation services to her clients. She specializes in corporate blogs, articles of interest, ghostwriting, and translation (SP/FR/CA into EN), collaborating with a range of companies from a variety of business sectors. She also offers services to a number of NGOs including Oxfam Intermón, UNICEF, and Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership.  For more information or to contact Cat visit her website ( or send her a message through LinkedIn.

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