What We Really Mean When We Say, “I Don’t Have Time”

By February 13, 2020 No Comments

“I don’t have time.” 

It’s one of the best excuses we have. 

We talk about time like it’s something out of our control. And we all have serious responsibilities like work and children that make the I don’t have time, line sounds pretty legit sometimes. But the longer we choose to act like most of our time is out of our control, the lazier we seem to get. Here’s the thing though, your time is your choice and acting like it isn’t is usually just a way to make ourselves feel better for spending it the way we have.

What we really mean when we say, “I don’t have time,” could be a lot of things:

I haven’t made time.

I don’t know how to make time.

I don’t want to make time.

I’m not willing to sacrifice any of my priorities in order to make room for this one.

If we put it simply; the way we spend our time is a reflection of our priorities. If something is important to you, you will find a way to fit it into your schedule.

I get it: we’re all busy. How are we supposed to “make time” for ourselves when there are dishes to be washed, humans to be fed, and sleep to be slept?

It’s not easy and often requires a sacrifice of some sort, but here are 5 ways you can make more time for yourself — aside from the usual watch less TV, wake up early ones. 

  1. Plan ahead.

This can mean a lot of things. Pack a bag. Bring your lunch. Do something today that you need to do over the weekend to free yourself up over the weekend.

Planning ahead is an easy way to maximize the use of your time. Sometimes, simply saving the drive-time it takes to go home and come back or wait in line at the drive-thru is all you need to give yourself those 30 extra minutes today.

Every night, even when I REALLY don’t want to, I set aside 10-15 minutes to pack food for the next day. Not only has this made a huge, lasting, positive impact on my schedule during the day. But it has also impacted my health and my wallet nicely as well.

  1. Plan around things.

Planning around something is when you start with whatever it is you want to have time to do and then work backwards.

Trying to find time to get to a CrossFit class after work but before dinner? Think about how much time you’d need, which things you need to move around, and go from there. Want to sign up for a Tuesday night soccer team that plays during your usual dinner time? Re-prioritize. Put the practice in your planner and work around it.

Planning around the thing you want to have time for means you’re going to make time for this it, not just try to fit it into your existing schedule. The key here is that you are rearranging the use of your time! Be sure you aren’t trying to constantly add new pieces to the puzzle without first removing other ones if needed.

  1. Ask for help.

This really should be #1, because so often, this frees up more of our time than we ever could have imagined. Asking for help is not only hard for us, but we also undervalue the return on this investment.

Asking for help might look like asking your kids or partner to do some of the chores you normally do after work so you can take a bath or ride your bike instead. It might be that you hire a trainer so you can be sure you’re getting in and out of the gym in a certain amount of time. It might be asking another parent to split the carpool duties or having your partner do dinner every Wednesday night so you can at least have those evenings “free.”

Sometimes, asking for help is just asking for help. And usually when those around us hear how busy you feel, they volunteer their time to help you cook, clean, pick up the kids, or at least hold you accountable to the things you say you want to be doing.

  1. Commit to less.

This one is a no-brainer as well.

Many times, making more time for yourself  just means saying “no” to things you’re used to saying “yes” to and potentially de-committing to current obligations. It is, again, a matter of priorities. If it’s truly important to you to find time to begin a yoga practice, then you just might have to say “no” to Saturday brunch plans sometimes.

You also don’t need to say “yes” to everything for those around you to love you. So often we worry about letting those around us down that we over-commit and run ourselves ragged. Remember that it’s absolutely fine and totally necessary to say “no” sometimes.

  1. Stop negotiating.

We could save ourselves several dozen minutes a day if we just got rid of the internal negotiations we have with ourselves about where to eat, whether or not we “feel like” working out, or if we “want” to go to hit snooze for the 5th time.

Quit negotiating, it’s really just procrastinating anyway. You’re either in, or you’re out. Once you decide to do something — like really decide — you will see how much easier it is to actually “have time” to do it. Sometimes, simply inserting a bit of rigidity into your schedule and saying,This is what I’m doing today, can increase your productivity.

A word of caution though; all of these things CAN backfire. When you’re trying to actively make more time for things, try to stay a little flexible because it probably won’t be easy at first. And sometimes even just putting forth the effort will help you in the future.

All of this being said, I’m childless and fortunate enough to work a job with a flexible schedule and I still find myself feeling like I don’t have enough time some days. Shout out to the ones doing it all with kids, a spouse, a full-time job and still saying yes to volunteering and making brownies for the bake sale.

Whatever you want to do with your time is up to you, but remember: it’s always a choice.




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