There used to be a thing called “spare time” which was greatly anticipated and enjoyed by those who had it.  It was the time we had available to do other things than work, developing our hustle-muscle, or striving for S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Spare time nourished us and kept us engaged and enjoying life.

Spare time helped us to thrive in the middle of Life’s inevitable obstacles and challenges.  We were able to find meaning and mana in our ordinary lives because of our spare time.

Where did all the spare time go?

“Hurry Up” by Peter Grob via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]


For many people it’s become a point of pride and a badge of honor now to be “Crazy Busy.”

The adrenaline rush of speeding through many tasks and communications can be addictive.  It feeds our illusion that we are always in high demand, that we’re conquering new territory and moving toward something grand.

The breath-taking pace of technological breakthroughs that help us feed our addiction for effortless speed and “saving time” and keeping up with the all of everything while  checking off to-do lists, hammering goals and piling up accomplishments is revved up and running, raining down every progressive technological wonder upon us and we are entranced.

Along with all the joys and blessings of our rapidly expanding technology, assorted researchers tell us, we are apparently experiencing an epidemic of “Hurry Sickness.”

“Crosstown Traffic” by Bob M via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]


Hurry Sickness is not some newly discovered phenomenon.  The term was first coined by cardiologist Dr. Meyer Friedman.

Dr. Friedman and his colleague Dr. Ray Rosenman shared a cardiology practice in San Francisco in the 1950’s.  They began studying and writing about the link between behavior and heart disease.

Their then-controversial work introduced the concept of the mind-body connection that is still being investigated and explored by researchers today.

The doctors’ observations were published in a popular 1974 book, TYPE A BEHAVIOR AND YOUR HEART.  It was the start of a whole new field of study for behavior researchers as well as a way to explain a lot about the consequences of human behavior on physical, emotional and mental well-being  to the general public.

It started to turn the focus of their studies towards ways that people could help themselves look for and find ways to greater personal happiness.

“Type A personality” soon became a popular buzzword to describe the driven, tenacious and relentless strivers who were likely to snarl at slow-moving salesclerks and other minions, who were compulsive multi-taskers extraordinaire and often prone to road rage.

More easy-going folks were categorized as “The Type B personality.”

Friedman’s life work was trying to get people with a Type A personality to behave more like people with Type B personality.  He came up with a therapy regimen that was meant to modify Type A behavior.

As the good doctor was fond of reiterating, “You can’t change personalities.  We just try for more B-like behavior.

“Slow Down Kid” by Predi via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]


A YouTube Video published by the London School of Business, Do You Suffer From Hurry Sickness? points out some of the less-extreme symptoms of Hurry Sickness observed by Richard Jolly, a London Business School professor and business coach.

According to Jolly, about 95 percent of the managers he has studied suffer from the illness, which has been defined as the constant need to do more, faster (even when there’s no objective reason to be in such a rush).

Working at breakneck speed for extended periods of time does not enhance productivity; it reduces it,” declares Dr. Edward Hallowell, author of CRAZY BUSY: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap! Strategies For Coping In a World Gone A.D.D.

Some of Hallowell’s thoughts from the book are presented in this YouTube video, uploaded in 2006 by simplyab.

As Hallowell says in his book, “When we work too fast for too long we get tired, become inefficient, make mistakes, and become unable to think clearly and sharply.”


Our bodies and minds aren’t meant to endure continual stress.  We get irritable, easily angered and upset from frustration and exhaustion.

Hurry sickness increases the body’s output of the stress hormone cortisol, which suppresses the immune system and has been linked with heart disease.  Blood pressure spikes and eventually remains at an elevated level.  Hearts wear out.

Chronic stress has also been found to trigger allergies, arthritis, obesity, diabetes, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and loss of appetite…it says here.  Running all-out frantic is generally not good for health, productivity or happiness.

“Slow Down” by Wil C. Fry via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
When our bodies and our minds stay in a constant state of overstimulation, it’s like being surrounded by lions and tigers and bears that work in shifts.  Survival becomes the order of the day.

When you’re too busy, you don’t do anything well.  Relationships suffer.  Performance at work and productivity suffers.

As Jolly points out, when you are caught up in all of the minutiae of being connected every minute of the day and night, you cannot take the time to slow down a bit and ask the big, really important questions.  You get too frazzled to entertain any creative thoughts.

Worst of all, you don’t enjoy life.  How?  You’re too busy flying from one thing to the next and you just haven’t got the time.  If unchecked, studies have shown, all this jittering can lead to burn-out and depression.

Hurry sickness is not limited to executives and entrepreneurs.

A classic baby boomer children’s book, HURRY HURRY by Edith Thacher Hurd with old-timey illustrations by her husband Clement was a favorite of my children.

In it, a nanny Miss Muggs who is always in a great hurry comes to stay with Suzie while her parents are away.  Little Suzie gets pulled along faster and faster as the nanny’s great hurry leads from one disastrous situation to steadily worse ones.

[The Hurds were one of the children’s literature’s best-known teams in their time.  The book was part of the “I Can Read” book series published by Harper Books.  It came out in 1960 and it’s still a grand read.]


For real, it is surprisingly simple to overcome Hurry Sickness.  The thing is, it ain’t easy.

The main thing to understand is the wise guys were right.  There are just three things that can help you reach your freedom from busy:

  • Discernment (also known as asking the right questions)
  • Clarity (also known as deciding what and who are most important and necessary for happiness in your life)
  • Selectivity (also known as choosing to say “yes” to what is important to you, and “no” to everything else)

In later posts, I’ll be exploring these three.  I’ll present exercises and such that you can try to help mitigate the effects of Hurry Sickness.  There are all kinds of neat mind-games you can try.  Some of them may work for you.

In the meantime, here’s a list of assorted books that you might like to explore:

“Slow Down Snail” by Aftab Uzzaman via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
Here’s a poem:


Word is the World’s not fair,

Twists and turns turn dreams to air.


[Make a new plan, Fran….

Set a new goal, Cole.]


You watch them crumple, bite the dust.

All that’s left is some soggy crust.


[Choose a new mark, Lark….

Start a new plot, Scott.]


Entropy rules and it don’t care

‘Bout your Big or your share.


[Find a new view, Lu….

Try a new trick, Slick.]


Time moves on, all in a flurry,

Pushing you to hurry, hurry.


[Shape a new deal, Sheil….

Find a new map, Sap.]


Proactive-reactive, boom-shaka-boom….

Drowning in all the doom and gloom.


[The game goes on, Dawn.

Do you REALLY want to play, Clay?]

By Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  Hurry!  By Michael Pardo via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]



(Click on each of the post titles below and see where it takes you…)


Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts.









  1. Lynne Huysamen says:

    I really enjoyed reading this and I am about to include part of what I am going to say here on my mommy blog soon. My two children went to stay with my parents for a few days during the Easter Holidays that have just gone by. It is the first time I have been alone at home since my children were born. So yes freedom for the first time in five years. The first thing I did was go grocery shopping and I was racing around the shop at break neck speed with my trolley throwing things in. It took a while for me to realize that I had no children to collect from play school, I had no children with me and I had no reason to rush around since I could work all day at home at leisure since I had no children.
    It made me see how I rush everything I do and I never seem to have any time to do anything I need to.

    This year I plan on slowing down a lot.

    1. Hey Lynne:

      Thanks for your visit and for sharing your story. I do appreciate it. Please do come again….

  2. I love this! We just connected on Linkedin and hopefully maybe for all the right reasons. As I rush from fighting crime to coaching to fighting the fossil fuel industry, I need to learn to say no more often. Thanks. Can’t wait to connect!

    1. Oh, my, Joe…you really ARE busy! Thank you for the visit and for your comments. (The power of “no” is a wondrous thing!)

      Please do come again!

  3. This blog should be mandatory for doctors. But most of them care only about your cholesterol level.

    1. Hey Predi: Thanks for your visit and your comment. (Thanks, too, for sharing the image of the girl running in the 25-mile zone. Hee! I love that picture!)

      I sure do miss the GP doctors. Everybody seems to be a specialist these days and they seem to only see their patients as walking hearts or livers or ears or something….PAH!

      Please do come again….

  4. teachexplorerun says:

    I suffer with hurry sickness. I find peace in being busy. I know this sounds crazy. I find when I have a lot of freedom I get really anxious. I find I an becoming better at utilizing Type B traits become an international teacher but it is different. Thanks for reminding me to slow down.

    1. Hey teach….

      Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts on “hurry sickness.” My own feeling on “finding peace in busy” is one of recognition. I do notice that when I’m NOT all full-up with projects and am sitting around with nothing much to do, I start feeling invisible or something. Hmmm. Still working on that one my own self.

      Please do come again….

  5. Brilliant, well written and thought provoking article. I kind of recognised myself as turning into an A type person lately when iv’e always predominantly been a B type.
    It’s certainly made me think that I need to be careful not to get burnt out.
    I absolutely loved this and shall be following and looking forward to new posts.
    Please give me your links to follow you.

    1. Hey Stefanie:

      Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  It’s funny how sometimes our circumstances change us without our noticing, huh? 

      I am still working on figuring out how to put a subscription form/system together that just lets people know when I’ve put together another post (rather than flooding them with other extraneous stuff).  I’m also trying to figure out where I want it to lead.  Slow thinker, me.  Sorry….

      Please do come again.  Maybe I’ll have my act together when you come back.

  6. In the world we live in today it is so hard to slow down!  I am one of those ‘hurry’ people while my husband is not.  He is great at his job and works hard and fast but is able to come home and relax and slow down. I am the opposite I go at work, I go on my days off, I’m up early constantly getting things done.  I know that I need to take a page out of his book and this article really hit home that for my health I should do it soon! 

    Thank you for you insights and beautiful words! 


    1. Thanks for your visit, Kara and for sharing your thoughts.  As another one of those “hurry” people, I do empathize with you.  You’re lucky that you have a good role model!

      Please do come again….

  7. Holly Knudson says:

    Great question – “Where did all the spare time go?” I agree with you that busyness is worn like a badge of honor. I have two family members that wear this badge with pride. Busyness and multitasking are both addictive in nature, and it’s hard to break the cycle once you’re realize you’re in it, and are aware of the damage it’s causing. 

    I know this personally because I was in this negative cycle for years, and am now slowly coming out of it. What a relief! I’m enjoying the people in my life more, taking more time for the things I truly enjoy, and am finding that my health as improved as a result. I’m all for slowing down. 

    Since I’m a type-A personality, it was easy to slowly slide into this negative cycle, staying stuck in it for the better part of two decades. I’m now trying to be more B-like, which makes life more enjoyable. Thanks fro the great article. I enjoyed reading it. 

    1. Hey Holly:

      Thanks for the visit and for sharing your story.  It really is a hard one to break away from all the busy.  Good for you!

      Please do come again….

  8. We are always in a hurry to get where we want to go, but what do we do once we get there?  We make another destination that we are now in a hurry to get to and it doesn’t seem to end. 

     We need to take the time to smell the roses.  Calm the mind.  Just be still, be present, in our lives.  Enjoy right now for as long as you can rather then working yourself too hard to enjoy some future time.

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Shy.  I do appreciate it.

      Please do come again….

  9. This is a great food for thought… the 2 times in life where I have felt like I’ve had zero free time or “spare time” is when I was a student and as a business owner. 

    Life as an employee working for someone else made it easy to “leave work at the office” on the weekend (or vacation) and really enjoy the down time. 

    However, as a business owner it seems like there is always something to do. 

    Thanks for this great reminder that spare time is important for a balanced mind-body connection. I’m going to look for the books you recommend as well!

    1. Aly, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I do agree that the greatest plus of being a minion is that ability to disconnect.  The fate of the business does not depend on YOU.  

      You have to pay more attention when you do other things.

      Please do come again.

  10. ruchiboy996 says:

    Brilliant, well written and thought provoking article.

    In the world we live in today it is so hard to slow down! I absolutely loved this and shall be following and looking forward to new posts.

    I know this personally because I was in this negative cycle for years, and am now slowly coming out of it. What a relief! 

    I’m enjoying the people in my life more, taking more time for the things I truly enjoy, and am finding that my health as improved as a result. I’m all for slowing down. 

    Thanks for the great article. I enjoyed reading it.

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, ruchiboy996.  Congratulations on taking the Big Slow-down.  It’s a grand place to be!

      I am pleased you liked the post.

      Please do come again.

  11. That’s a cool statue that one in the photo. Do you know where it is?

    You would think with all the lockdowns over the past year or so, that there would be plenty of spare time for everyone. In fact, to begin with I think we were all complaining that we had too much spare time. 

    Yet, here we are and it’s time to get back to the grindstone and we are back to wondering where all that time went. 

    You can never get enough time.

    1. Kwidzin, thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts and your question.  The statue in the header picture is “The Race” by sculptor William McElcheran.  It’s on the grounds of Rodman Hall in St. Catherines in Ontario.  I agree that it is way cool.

      I do agree with your thoughts.  Time is always a very slippery thing, isn’t it?  We all get the same amount of time every day and sometimes it feels like we’ve got too much and often it feels like what we have is not enough.  Hmmm….

      Please do come again.

  12. Hello. Thank you for this article. I had no idea that such a thing as Hurry Sickness exists.

    The truth is that everybody is in hurry these days. Our parents and grandparents had simpler life, less technology, but more spare time. 

    Since I have a child and always have something to do, I’m also missing the spare time and I do everything in hurry. I have to think about how to change it.

    1. Nat, I am so pleased that the post was helpful to you.  Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

      Please do come again.

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