Why “I Don’t Have Time” is a Big Fat Lie

“I just don’t have enough time.”

We’ve all said it before.

We say “I don’t have time” when life gets busy or when we don’t want to feel guilty about skipping something:

  • If we don’t have enough time to work out, it’s easier for us to be okay with wheezing after a flight of stairs.
  • If we don’t have enough time to prepare healthy meals, it’s easier to accept our next unhealthy meal through a drive-thru window.
  • If we don’t have enough time to clean the house, it’s easier to accept living in filth.
  • If we don’t have time to apply for new jobs and make new connections, it’s easier to accept staying in a dead-end job.

By the end of today, “I don’t have time” will be erased from your vocabulary, Schwarzenegger-style!

It’s not a priority…

Lego Staying Up Late to Watch TV, wasting time and productivity

If you asked this Lego guy, he’d tell you that he’s so busy that he doesn’t have time to shave.  Liar!

Starting today, you are no longer allowed to utter the words: “I don’t have time.”

Instead, you will say, “It’s not a priority.”

I learned this tactic from this Wall-Street Journal article, and it has been monumental in changing my frame of mind.

Watch how quickly your perspective shifts when looking at life’s challenges this way:

  • “I’d love to work out, I just don’t have time” becomes “exercising isn’t a priority.”
  • “I’d love to eat healthier, but I don’t have time to cook” becomes “eating healthy isn’t a priority.”
  • “I don’t have time to travel” becomes “traveling isn’t a priority.

Suddenly, the excuse of time becomes an incredibly weak argumentCrap.

Stings a bit, huh?

The real truth

changed priorities sign

I can see you begging and pleading right now.

“Steve, these things ARE a priority, but there aren’t just enough hours in the day.”

As J.D. Roth, founder of Get Rich Slowly, simply stated during his talk at the World Domination Summit:

  “It’s not what we say is a priority, but what we actually DO that’s a priority.”

J.D. shared how he used to tell his friend, “oh I LOVE reading, I just don’t have time for it.” In reality, JD was just putting everything else in front of reading: watching TV, staying up late surfing the internet, and so on.  Once he realized how he was prioritizing his life, he started analyzing where his precious time was going.

How you choose to spend your time defines your priorities.  I spent all of 2011 telling myself that I wanted to learn a new language, but I never seem to find the time.  It wasn’t because I didn’t have enough time, it’s because I never made learning a new language a priority!  After lying to myself for a year, I just ordered a Portuguese phrase book from Amazon.com.

No seriously, I bought it just now, halfway through writing this article.

What are your priorities?

"Very important" sign on bench

We have 168 hours in a week.

Time is our most precious resource.

Your priorities, whether you say so or not, are where you choose to spend those hours.  Make the most of them!  It’s amazing how much time you can find when you minimize the things that aren’t important to make room for the things that are.

Where do you spend your time?  Just like keeping a food journal can be eye-opening, try tracking your time over the next few days in 30-minute blocks. How much time do you spend on the computer, watching TV, etc?  I bet you’ll be surprised.

Suddenly…wild productivity appears!  

  • The 10 hours of TV each week become less important.
  • The late nights on Facebook and WoW become more apparent.
  • The unproductive hours spent sitting at your desk, “working” without actually WORKING become clear.

It’s not what you say that’s important to you, it’s what you DO that’s important to you.  

I know you can get a great workout in 20 minutes, so I refuse to accept ANYBODY telling me that they don’t have time to work out.

I challenge you, starting today, to erase the phrase “I don’t have time” from your vocabulary.  Instead, say “it’s not a priority.”

And then decide what you actually want your priorities to be.  

Leave a comment with ONE thing you’ve been saying is a priority but hasn’t really been, and ONE step you’re going to take today to make that thing a real priority.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some Portuguese to learn.

Tchau!

-Steve

###

photo: changed priorities sign, old clock on building, scruffy lego dude, very important bench

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  • Erin

    Great perspective. The freedom and the power to say “no, that isn’t a priority for me” is useful and helpful. It’s too easy to get stuck in thinking we have to want to do everything and then do nothing because we “don’t have time.”

  • Leason

    GREAT article. starting tonight I’m first going to make a list of my “priorities” and act on them instead of using having no time as an excuse.
    will keep you guys posted with my list and the progress I’ve made.

  • JennyW2118

    Organize my child’s photographs on my computer and get them printed!! I will go to Walgreens today after work and get a batch printed :)

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  • Stacey

    Planning meals, I say that it is a priority but I always find a way to make it more difficult than it should be. I will pay more attention to the amount of time I sit and waste “thinking” and make blocked times to allow for weekly menu planning.

  • Terri

    I’m new to paleo (6 weeks in) and just started getting your emails. I followed this link today and am so glad I did. I have made cooking properly a priority, but keep letting other “priorities” get in the way of my physical activity. I immediately found a timer to set to keep myself off the computer for hours at a time. Thanks for this kick in the butt.

  • Christopher Anderson

    ONE thing: Creating YouTube content. ONE step: Film.

    I can’t eliminate all the problemsobstacles BEFORE I begin. I need to begin NOW, push through, and fixsurmount them as I discover them.

  • supersahm

    Not everyone has the time for an EFFECTIVE workout… I’m a mother of 5— ages 8,7,3,2,and 1… My 2 year old is autistic with horrible sleep patterns that we haven’t been able to break yet… my husband works 14 hr days, 6 days a week… I’m a sahm, and I’m busy… i cook, clean, run errands, drop kids off and pick kids up, help with homework, and cook and clean some more… my husband is exhausted by the time he gets home, so him staying up until 2-3 am is not an option… i get 4 hours asleep if I’m lucky… i workout on Sundays, and try to move around during the day whether it’s going for walks, playing with my kids outside, or dancing around the house with my little ones, but i know that these activities won’t help me lose weight… Not everyone is lazy… yes, going to the gym takes a backseat to my family’s well being— even as i type this, I’m holding my 1 yr old, trtrying to break a 102 fever… don’t assume to know someone’s story….