The Main Characteristics of Chronopathy

Productivity and time management, are necessary for personal growth, but not when it turns into chronopathy, the obsession over them.
The Main Characteristics of Chronopathy

Written by Editorial Team

Last update: 03 March, 2023

We live in a society that pushes us to be productive at all times. Therefore, we often insist on saturating our agenda with tasks and responsibilities. We’re invaded by the anguish of not having taken advantage of the time as it should. If this sounds like your case, you’re probably a victim of chronopathy.

This obsession with making the most of time has detrimental consequences for our physical and mental health. Let’s see what the condition consists of and how we can overcome it.

What is chronopathy?

The term chronopathy comes from chronos, which refers to time, and pathos, which means ‘disease’. It was popularized by the psychiatrist Marian Rojas Estapé, who developed it in her book How to Make Good Things Happen to You.

In this book, the author defines chronopathy as a new syndrome that’s characterized by an obsession with time and the difficulty to stop, even in the face of exhaustion. She also highlights the role that contemporary society has played in its appearance, when immediacy, speed, and overload of tasks have a greater weight than rest and enjoyment.

The art of rest is a part of the art of working. -John Steinbeck

Although chronopathy is not yet categorized as a mental disorder, we should keep in mind that the condition brings with it a lot of discomfort and often causes other severe problems, such as chronic stress or emotional apathy.

Reloj deportivo en una persona con cronopatía.
Even in sports, an obsession with time has taken hold. An example of this is the fact that sports watches are becoming increasingly popular among amateur athletes.

The characteristics of people who feel like they can’t waste time

People who suffer from chronopathy usually have the following characteristics:

  • They feel a deep need to satisfy the societal demand for productivity. Therefore, they tend to fill their agendas with responsibilities and obligations to fulfill.
  • They live life at an accelerated pace as if they were in a competition that they must win.
  • In addition, they have great difficulty stopping and resting, despite their exhaustion.
  • They don’t know how to enjoy the present moment, enjoy the company of their loved ones, or appreciate the small pleasures of life. The hustle and bustle and the obsession with time make them miss special and unrepeatable opportunities.
  • When they have time off, they think they will be judged as lazy and disorganized.
  • They feel anxiety, frustration, or guilt when they’re not doing something productive.
  • They’re impatient and want to solve everything immediately.

The consequences of chronopathy

Contrary to what we are led to believe, fast-paced lives and tight schedules never do us any good. As we already said, it is fine to aspire to productivity (in fact, it is necessary), however, obsessing about making the most of time and overloading ourselves with obligations significantly harms our well-being.

Among the most common consequences we can list the following:

  • Physical and mental exhaustion.
  • A state of constant acceleration and hyperactivity that prevents us from thinking clearly.
  • A distorted perception of time. We feel that it passes in an accelerated way, which contributes to being even more obsessed with time.
  • High levels of tension, stress, and anxiety. If these states are prolonged, they can cause other alterations, such as insomnia, muscle pain, hypertension, weakening of the immune system, fatigue, and an increased heart rate.
  • In severe cases, there can be a disconnection from one’s own emotions. People pay more attention to how they spend their time and neglect how they feel.

Speed, which is a virtue, breeds a vice, which is haste. -Gregorio Marañón

Tips to overcome an obsession with time

If at this point you think you may be a slave to time and feel a deep discomfort about it, here are some tips that will help you to free yourself.

Always leave free spaces in your agenda

It’s essential that you leave spaces in your weekly schedule to devote to leisure, rest, and enjoyment. We all need moments of calm to recover from the hustle and bustle. Remember: as long as we’re overloaded, we will never perform at 100%.

Look for obligations that you can enjoy

There’s nothing more satisfying than doing what you enjoy. Therefore, make sure that your obligations are in tune with what really fulfills you. This can be complicated at times, but if you succeed, you will be more satisfied with life and the feeling of making the most of your time will be enhanced.

Avoid planning everything

Having the time measured and allocated to an activity (even if it’s for enjoyment) increases the feeling of wasting time. Therefore, give up a little control and leave spaces without planning anything.

When that moment arrives, stop and think about what you would most like to do at that precise moment. This way, you will be more aware of the present moment.

Agenda organizada en una mujer con cronopatía.
It’s good to have an agenda, but it’s also healthy to leave unplanned spaces to do whatever you feel like doing at that moment.

Enjoy the process and path

People who do everything in a rush never enjoy the processes, because they only think about results. In addition, when faced with any inconvenience, they feel frustrated because they only see a delay to reach any goal. In the long run, they finish their projects dissatisfied and reproach themselves for not having had more time to do it better.

What they don’t know is that the key is to be aware of the path and learn from any mistakes that may arise. Furthermore, this learning is what will give us the feeling that we’re not wasting our time.

Seek help

In many cases, the key will be to see a psychotherapist who will give you the necessary tools to overcome your battle against time. Although chronopathy is not a clinical condition, its consequences are very harmful. So, don’t hesitate to go to a specialist if you think the situation is getting out of your hands.

Let’s learn to stop

It’s necessary that we all know how to stop the common accelerated pace of life. Only then we will be able to perceive and enjoy the beauty of life. In addition, rest, pause, and silence are key aspects to undertake new projects with enthusiasm and illusion.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.