We all know the feeling: The sun has long since seeped from the sky and the hour is growing late, but you still haven’t accomplished all you set out to do today. Your chest tightens as you look at your to-do list, only half-finished. Where does all the time go?
This sense that there’s never enough time to do everything—both on a day-to-day level, but also in the larger sense—is known as “time anxiety.” Are we making the most of the time we have? And what if we’re not? Is it too late? Should we just give up and crawl into a hole now?
Dr. Alex Lickerman, author of The Undefeated Mind, writes for Psychology Today that anxiety about time actually stems from anxiety about meaning. “I worry constantly that I’m spending my time on things that are meaningless. Or, perhaps I should say, not meaningful enough,” he writes.
In order to manage time anxiety, it’s important to first understand what it is, and the several forms it can take.