Zen Habits writes:
We live our lives around the clock. We wake up at a certain time, work on a schedule and base our performance on the amount of time it takes us to do things. More things done in less time = good. More time needed? Deadline not met? Unacceptable.
But it’s not just the clock that gives us anxiety; it’s basing our worth on how productive we are. We have this false belief that if we just finish everything on our to do lists, we’ll be done. After that, we can finally be happy, right? Unfortunately, that time never comes.
I think the root problem is not with a wish to be productive, but more to do with the fundamental disconnect between planning projects and executing them. If you took the script of how a project actually unfolded, and sent it back in time to when the project was being planned, most people would look at it and say disagree: “it won’t really happen that way”. Planning seems to invariably hope for the best (the happy path) and more accurate dates seem to feel invariably pessimistic with a lot of padding. This, I think, is the disconnect with deadlines and where the anxiety comes from.