40 million. That’s how many people age 18 and older are affected by anxiety disorders in the U.S. alone. To put it another way, approximately 18 percent of the population is affected by an anxiety disorder annually, making it the most common mental illness. Anxiety’s impact on time management is significant.
Even though struggling with anxiety is easily treatable and nothing to be ashamed of, only 36.9 percent seek out and receive treatment. Maybe individuals don’t seek help because they believe that it isn’t a big deal. Some people believe that anxious feelings are just temporary and will pass. Others may view anxiety as a sign of weakness. Whatever the reason — anxiety isn’t something that you should ignore.
When left untreated, anxiety can have a significant effect on you psychologically and physically.
Common symptoms include feeling nervous, restlessness, insomnia, hyperventilation, and nausea. Long-term effects include depression, chronic pain, digestive issues, or substance abuse. Some individuals will have an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
It shouldn’t be surprising then, that anxiety can also negatively impact your productivity and how you effectively manage time. When your tired and not feeling 100 percent, you aren’t going to have the energy to complete tasks promptly.
Anxiety makes it difficult to concentrate — it’s almost impossible to stay focused on what needs your attention right now.
But, those issues are merely scratching the surface of the trouble anxiety, and its destructive friends will cause you. Time management is your most important factor in success. Here’s a closer look at how stress influences time management.
Anxiety Makes Time Management Impossible
There are five major types of anxiety disorders. Each of these conditions can affect time management and productivity differently because of the various symptoms related to each. For example:
- Generalized anxiety disorder is a condition where you worry excessively about relationships, money, health, or current events. These thoughts are unprovoked and preoccupy your mind.
- Social phobia or social anxiety disorder is when you feel uncomfortable or self-conscious in social settings. As a result, you’ll avoid most social settings, turn down assignments, or not ask for help when you need it. Besides social phobias, you could have an irrational fear, such as a fear of heights. This category of stress impairs your thoughts and abilities from focusing or completing assignments.
- Panic disorders are when you have sudden episodes of fear. In turn, this can lead to physical symptoms like dizziness, increased heart rate, and shortness of breath. Understandably, the last thing on your mind is your work when you experience a panic attack.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder develops following a traumatic event. PTSD can cause symptoms like flashbacks, adverse changes in mood or behavior, or being easily startled. At work, PTSD (or small ptsd triggers) can be a problem if a co-worker unintentional frightened you. Getting back on track is sometimes impossible.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder is when you have “recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) or repetitive behaviors (compulsions).” Examples include excessive handwashing and cleaning that provide temporary relief. These “rituals” can be distracting and time-consuming. They can also cause more anxiety if not performed.
“In the workplace, these symptoms can translate into difficulty working with colleagues and clients, trouble concentrating, preoccupation over the fear instead of focusing on work, and turning down assignments because of fear of failure, flying, going into the elevator, or public speaking,” writes Dulce Zamora for WedMD.
Time management can also cause anxiety.
Anxiety is a vicious cycle. As a consequence, making, creating, and sticking to a schedule, which is meant to help you with your time management woes, can trigger your anxiety. “You see, laying out a set schedule rather than making decisions as I come to them turns my entire day’s plan into an obligation,” writes Taylor Blumenberg. “I detest obligations, though I am well aware there is no way to completely avoid them.”
“Being obligated to do something takes away my control of a situation — even if I am the person who planned/assigned/volunteered for the task at hand,” explains Blumenberg. “It is ridiculous in a way, but also easy to understand the thinking behind. When given in abstract terms as above, the concept seems logical; in practice, however, it seems somewhat more absurd.”
Take a little time to figure out the best time management process if you have any of these additional stressors.
Additionally, Blumenberg says that another “issue for me with scheduled time management is the anxiety of timing” since she doesn’t have a great sense of time. Because she doesn’t like to keep track of time, Blumenberg is left “with either large gaps of time between tasks where I have overestimated how long something will take, or I end up racing to finish things in the allotted time.”
Consequently, this “causes stress — not only making, but following, a schedule almost more stressful than just doing things at random as I see fit, without losing any of the control that chasing a schedule forces on you.”
Ultimately, studies have found that anxiety disorders are connected with poor job productivity, as well as short- and long-term work disability. Additionally, it influences all aspects of your business.
Anxiety takes a toll on all business operations.
Perhaps the worst effect of being anxious is that you’ll miss deadlines. Because you can’t focus on your priorities, you may end up procrastinating or spend an unnecessary amount of time battling irrational thoughts.
If you’re working with others, you may avoid your team due to social anxiety.
You may have to ask others for help with your work, which is also stress-producing. Needless to say, this can bring the project to a screeching halt as others wait for you to wrap up responsibilities.
More troublesome? Anxiety can cause you to miss important deadlines.
It could also make others perceive your organization for being a non-collaborative work environment; you may damage your reputation. That may not sound terrible, but it can prevent clients, investors, or potential employees from wanting to work with you.
Finally, you may be anxious enough to be absent from work or loss of motivation. Again, that does almost irreversible harm to your productivity and image. Any of these situations will have an impact on your bottom line and potentially put your business in jeopardy.
The Best Ways to Reduce Anxiety
The good news is that there are simple and effective ways to cope with being anxious. As highlighted in a previous article for Calendar, these include:
- Identifying your triggers so that you can find solutions. For example, if you struggle with social anxiety, then consider working with a therapist or practicing deep breathing.
- Take care of yourself by exercising, eating healthy, and meditating.
- Learn how to self-soothe yourself.
- Do the things that you enjoy to eliminate your stress and focus on the positive.
- Take frequent breaks throughout the day and schedule time off.
- Focus on what you can control and only spend time on those responsibilities.
- Reassess your to-do-lists and ditch whatever is causing your stress. If you can’t completely delete them, then delegate or outsource them to someone else.
Still struggling with anxiety, and it’s impacting your time management and productivity?
One of the best ways to kick anxiety is to know what your triggers are. When you feel a trigger or a trigger takes you by surprise — immediately take a walk, raise your desk and stand for a while, hop on the office bike and watch TV, but, stop the anxiety quickly. Don’t allow the stress to fester even for a second.
I’m a firm believer that you have to save yourself — no one else will.
At home, to keep anxiety from coming to work with you — you can exercise, eat right, sleep right, keep your social connections secure, or take a hot bath. You can keep your creative pursuits going — paint, draw, music, or dance. These things can help you keep stress at bay in the first place.
If you still have some anxiety, consider working with a coach or mentor. Most business coaches and mentors seem to understand anxiety and pressure. Make sure that you also establish boundaries, like saying “no” when you already have a full calendar, and track your time so that you can accurately estimate how long it will take to complete a task.
Need more? Then break down projects into smaller and more manageable pieces to stop anxiety.
Set up a more flexible schedule if this will put your mind at ease. Don’t be afraid to speak with a qualified therapist to help you work through this mental health concern.