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21 Examples of Time Pressure

 , October 27, 2022
Time pressure is the state or feeling of being short of time. The following are common examples.
Time pressure is often assumed to be a social construct. In some cases, this is true. However, time pressure is also a basic feature of reality as time has harsh properties whereby it constantly marches forward, is limited from the human perspective and can't be reversed. For example, if a large asteroid were headed towards the planet Earth, humanity would have a time pressure to solve this problem.
Positive Stress
Time pressure is often assumed to be a negative thing that produces bad feelings. However, it can also be viewed as positive stress whereby time pressure adds to the thrill of a challenge and the feeling of self-fulfillment at meeting such challenges. Postmodern academic approaches tend to view people as lacking any resilience or agency such that stresses are presumed to be completely negative.
Games, Sports and Play
People enjoy time pressures so much that they create it in the form of games, sports and play. For example, a soccer team that has a minute to break a tie.
Time pressures may feel exhilarating and rewarding such that people may purposely take on more than they can handle in order to keep busy.
Time Deepening
Time deepening is the human ability to intensely focus when placed under a time pressure. For example, a pilot who intensely concentrates when they have a few seconds to react to a problem in flight.
Organizations may intentionally place employees under time pressure in order to try to boost productivity with time deepening. This may backfire and create negative effects such as human error but can work in a high performance environment where employees are up to the demands of time pressures.
Economies of Throughput
Value creation by people is asymmetric whereby people who are totally dedicated and always rushing towards goals may produce many orders of magnitude more than someone who is relatively relaxed. For example, an entrepreneur who works intensely for 16 hours a day may eventually produce a billion dollar firm where they could theoretically produce a 0 dollar firm if they worked less hours or less intensely.
Time Boxing
Time boxing is the practice of artificially limiting the time available for a task. This may be done to create time pressures and productivity or as a means to prevent a task from becoming a time suck.
Putting something off until it absolutely has to be done often creates time pressures. This may serve to demonstrate the productivity boost that time pressures can create as a task that has been sidelined for months may be completed in hours as a deadline approaches.
Last Responsible Moment
The use of procrastination as an active strategy -- not doing things until the last responsible moment.
It is often assumed that time pressure results from a lack of planning or forethought. This isn't necessarily the case as overplanning is also a common root cause of time pressure. For example, an organization that spends 8 months planning for a change that needs to be launched within 9 months.
Beyond scarcity, another hard reality that creates time pressures is competition. For example, a competitor that is regularly improving their costs and reducing their prices before you can adapt.
Parallel Tasks
Multiple demands on time whereby you are required to multitask. For example, a parent working at home who is also taking care of a child.
Setting Expectations
Setting expectations is the process of communicating to others what you expect of them. As you gain experience with this you may find that setting an aggressive deadline tends to improve responsiveness and results.
Creativity of Constraints
Another unjustified assumption related to time pressure is the sense that it makes people less creative. This isn't necessarily true. For example, the theory of creativity of constraints states that people tend to be more creative when constraints are used to increase creative tension.
Trying to do too much such that your productivity is low or negative. For example, a restaurant that tries to cut costs by reducing kitchen staff that ends up overwhelming the kitchen such that food quality drops and bad reviews start flooding in.
Hard Problems
Tackling big problems or problems that are unexpectedly difficult to solve such that they consume massive quantities of time.
Fast Mediocrity
Fast mediocrity is the imposition of time constraints on trivial or petty tasks such that you end up highly focused on something that isn't worthy of such attention. For example, a commuter who drives in an aggressive and hostile manner because they are often a few minutes late for work.
Hotspots / Coldspots
A hotspot is the process of creating time pressures around important tasks. This can be combined with coldspots - quality time where you take things at a leisurely pace.
Rush Culture
Cultures tend to have a pace to them. For example, an island with many rural residents where people tend to take their time versus a cosmopolitan city where people rush around with a competitive spirit.
Slow Culture
Slow culture is a counterculture to rush culture whereby people adopt a methodical, diligent and patient approach to things such as food or work that are so often rushed.
Overview: Time Pressure
DefinitionThe state or feeling of being short of time.
Related Concepts


This is the complete list of articles we have written about time.
Arrow Of Time
Cause And Effect
Respect For Time
Slow Things
Time Management
Time Opposite
Time Poor
Time Pressure
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