Chronomania: An Obsession with Time

Do you constantly look at the clock? Do you feel like time is slipping through your fingers? If so, there are some measures you can take to improve your schedule, thus gaining quality of life.
Chronomania: An Obsession with Time
Gema Sánchez Cuevas

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Gema Sánchez Cuevas.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

We live in a society of immediacy, where everything moves at a dizzying pace. Furthermore, we increasingly worry whether our days are really productive enough. However, these thoughts can turn into an obsession called chronomania.

Oddly enough, today it tends to be frowned upon to acknowledge that we have a flexible schedule. In fact, the most normal and accepted thing is to say that “I don’t have time.” Some even feel the need to hide their intentions to relax and “do nothing” at home. Because society expects maximum productivity from us.


This kind of life that many of us are forced into can easily lead to the disorder known as chronomania. It’s a disease that’s marked by the obsession to make the most of our time. An intense and constant concern to make our days as productive as possible.

Because we live in a culture that demands constant productivity from us, it’s often hard to put a stop to this kind of obsession. However, we shouldn’t be exhausting ourselves. As a matter of fact, we should be enjoying the present moment, time with our family, and the small pleasures in life. Colloquially speaking, we need to “stop and smell the roses.”

In the words of Marian Rojas Estapé, psychiatrist and author of the book, How to Make Good Things Happen: Know Your Brain, Enhance Your Life, this trend can be extremely harmful to society. She talks about the false idea that haste and acceleration produce greater and better results.

She also states that when people say they don’t have time or they’re in a hurry, we see that as being completely normal and acceptable. Indeed, a schedule that isn’t jam-packed tends to be judged negatively.

Hand holding a clock

The consequences of being slaves of time

This preoccupation with time can have serious consequences from a psychological point of view. Worst of all, it can affect our daily lives in different ways. For example:

  • We have a hard time thinking clearly. That’s because we’re living in a constant state of acceleration and hyperactivity. We aren’t calm enough and don’t give ourselves the necessary breaks to establish our priorities.
  • Our perception of time becomes accelerated. If we have the feeling that time is slipping through our fingers, it probably is. In other words, the more we obsess over taking advantage of time, the greater our feeling that it’s escaping us.
  • We lose contact with our emotions. When we’re preoccupied with being productive, it’s easy to ignore our body’s most important processes. Therefore, chronomania is a problem that can take us away from our own emotions. That’s because we don’t have the time to listen to them and we’re unable to identify relevant emotional events.
  • We experience excessive tension, anxiety, and stress. We may not even notice these emotional states but our bodies will. They’ll suffer the consequences, but often silently. Ultimately, emotions that aren’t lived through or expressed can translate into stress, tension, and anxiety.
  • We waste the moment. The saddest thing is that this state of acceleration prevents us from enjoying the moment. Every day we waste countless moments that are extremely valuable to us and those around us. We find it difficult to take advantage of the opportunity to disconnect, relax, or do something that really motivates us.

The digital environment and chronomania

It’s expected that chronomania will find a favorable breeding ground in the digital world. According to Estapé, we’re constantly exposed to alerts from the digital environment. It might be the notification of a message received, posts on social media, or a video that’s sent to our cellphones. This bombardment of external stimuli means we’re in a constant state of alertness. Our alert system starts up and stops us from relaxing, claims Etapé.

While there are many positive elements provided by the digital environment, we must control the relationship we maintain with it. After all, only we have the ability to stop for the sake of our own health. Etapé suggests that we should slow down so we don’t get sick.

Mobile with many notifications

How to avoid chronomania

It’s clear that productivity and time efficiency can become an obsession. However, how is it possible to combat this current that drags us along with the tide. Here are a few tips that you can try to apply in your daily routine.

  • Don’t saturate your schedule. As much as possible, try to reduce your task schedule. In this way, you’ll be able to complete what you need to do in a calm manner. In addition, you’ll be far more aware of what you’re doing and you won’t feel overwhelmed by lack of time.

  • Look for a position that you’d enjoy. This can be tricky, but if you can find work that pleases you, your standard of living will also rise. This will make you feel good and allow you to focus your attention on the positive in what you do.

  • Leave yourself some free time with no plans. It’s highly recommended to leave a blank space in your agenda. A portion of time that you leave unplanned and entirely dedicated to you.

  • Enjoy the process more than the result. If you don’t enjoy the process, you may not even be able to enjoy the result. Everyone likes to do things well and this brings you some benefit. However, enjoying the process should be your only obligation.

These are simple measures that can improve your quality of life. Implementing them will make you feel that time isn’t running away with you. You’ll stop spending your days operating on automatic pilot. Instead, you’ll only pay attention to the most important tasks. Those that aren’t so urgent can be put on the back-burner for a while.

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.