What “I don’t have time” really means and how we lie to ourselves, constantly.

“If there’s a will, there’s a way”.

Folks, lets go straight to the point: we all have the same amount of time per day, and that is, as a global agreement, 24 hours. Full stop.

The four magic words: I. Don’t. Have. Time. When put together they work as the main disappearing act of any (cheap) magician. We think it does the magic and introduce that impressive excuse (yes people, is an excuse) to free ourselves of anything.

The truth is that is a double-edged resource that we normally all tend to use but at the end of the day does more harm than good. Why? Lets use two simple common examples to illustrate:

  • Doing good: ‘I really don’t have time to go your dear aunt’s birthday as I’m stuck with work’. Boom. You’ve nailed it there champion! You’ve got to skip those boring family meetings.
  • Doing bad: ‘I wish I could have more time to spend with my family but I haven’t as my job takes 100% of it’. And your kids grow up without parents (or your partner without its soulmate, etc. , etc.).

As most of the ideas and thoughts I tend to play around with in my head the came from conversations, this one came from a discussion with a friend of mine, Jorge, after I used this magic words with him because I wasn’t going to hangout with him, for the thousand time Jorge, in a completely justified sad closing moment of the discussion told me: “Is not that people don’t have time, is that people don’t have the will”. That phrase stuck with me and I came to understand he was totally right. We tend to excuse our lack of motivation, of real interest or desire, with the issue of being ‘busy’ and in turn ‘not having time’. When we really want something, we always find the time.

So, my proposal to you, is double. First, try this week to be conscious about those moments when you say or think about something or someone and use the ‘I don’t have time’ excuse. You will be amazed by how many times we use it. For those of you “self-quantifiers” even mark each time it happens and use this data to improve in the future and see your evolution.

And second, do a list of those 10 things that are most important to you, like your family, friends, health, work, hobbies, whatever, ranking them from more to least important. Then, next to each put, approximately, how much time of your week (ps: a week has 168 hours; if you haven’t include common activities in your list like sleeping, try to subtract that time from the total) you spend on them and in another column how much time would you REALLY like to invest in them. Last, consciously during the week write down where you are investing your time now and compare it to where would you rather prefer to. This will help you to have a more precise idea of how you are using your most precious resource, time, and not just a feeling of it. In the future we will come back to this list and to a broader one (including vacations and much larger objectives) to analyse how to achieve them.

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