The phrase “I don’t have time” nearly destroyed my life.
In my early 20s I was a DJ, music producer, and startup founder. Zero focus. Spray and pray. My whole life involved working to the bone. The daily to-do list was full of as many tasks as possible.
If you asked what my life goals were, I couldn’t tell you. “Do everything then die?” Whenever someone wanted me for a few minutes I never had time.
I lived a zero-minutes-free kind of life. People later told me I was rude. Ex-girlfriends explained a lack of attention as the primary reason for our inevitable breakups.
If you say “I don’t have time” it has a powerful meaning you must understand.
“I don’t have time” equals “this is not a priority”
This week I spoke to a writer. They wanted to do a course of mine. The phrase slipped out in a direct message.
I said, “Is writing a priority?”
“Yes it’s what I’ve wanted to do my entire life.”
For years they sat at home dreaming about writing. They never did it. They let their calendar fill up with useless junk. The problem is they had their priorities wrong. You don’t organize your schedule based on tasks. No.
You organize your schedule, which leads to the life you want, based on your priorities. I’m not immune from this lack of time disease, so I’ve reverse-engineered the process.
My biggest priorities go into my calendar first. All the small, unimportant stuff gets scheduled afterwards.
Be honest with yourself for once. Instead of “I don’t have time” say “it’s not a priority” or “this isn’t one of my goals.”
How you allocate time determines your real goals — not your fake goals that make you feel good but will never happen.
“I don’t have time” can mean “I’m not ready”
If you continue to ‘wait until you’re ready’ you’ll be waiting for the rest of your life — Aaron Will
Fear creeps in when we’re about to make a decision that shapes our life in an important way. We’re never ready to take action, especially if it’s a brand new goal and we have no freaking idea.
The time is now.
If you have a goal then there’s no point waiting until tomorrow. You could be dead then. A car could crash into your house and kill you. Or a grizzly bear could eat you for a morning snack.
Feel the fear and do it anyway.
Be prepared to start with zero knowledge. Be prepared to back yourself. Be prepared to give it a go and dare to see what you can actually do. Otherwise, your talents remain idle and your potential has a limiter on it. If left for long enough, a lack of giving it a go will destroy your motivation levels.
When do we ever have time?
The internet destroyed our time.
Apps are designed to make their business model our priority. We all have a phone, let’s not pretend we don’t. And, yes, we try to use aeroplane mode, but even The Dalai Lama can’t resist a red notification from Twitter.
Your daily time allocation can easily be filled. If you don’t fill it then someone will do it for you — boss, kids, partner, friends, family.
Saying you don’t have time is a lazy excuse.
Time runs out. It’s the one resource we can never get back. You’ve gotta be more serious about how you talk about the time you have left.
For the record, I don’t know a man or woman who says they have time. If you’re going to lie to yourself then you’ve got to be better than that.
It’s a sign of bad time management
You should know your goals. Goals act as a filter. Therefore, if you know your goals then there are two answers:
- I have time because this is a goal.
- I don’t have time because this isn’t a goal.
Saying you don’t have time is saying you don’t have goals. It’s useful to admit that if it’s the case. At least it’s a starting point to begin to create goals.
Last year I started changing how I said no. An ask like “can you be on a podcast?” went from “I don’t have time” to “podcasts are not a priority for me so, no thank you.”
Saying no based on your goals is far easier than saying no based on an empty excuse any person trained in persuasion can see through.
Build your dream or build someone else’s dream
I discovered that people who don’t have time often let their bosses at work overrun their schedules. They do have some time but their boss makes sure they’ve got enough work to fill up their schedule and have it bleed into their before and after hours freedom.
You can build your boss’s dream and keep saying no, or you can build your dream and say no to your boss often than you do.
The choice is yours.
But when someone else owns your dream, they can destroy it in a split second and there’s nothing you can do. So if that happens, then you don’t get to complain.
The simple way to reinvent your time
You’re not going to wake up tomorrow and suddenly be better with time. That’s a p*rn fantasy.
What worked for me was to identify my life goals and then turn them into 15-minute habits.
You have time to do anything for 15 minutes. When you start with a tiny step like this, it’s easier to get started and unlock momentum. Once you have momentum it will start to change your mind about your priorities.
You’ll become more disciplined at controlling your schedule because what you’ll miss out on if you don’t is now visible, and too precious to let go of.
Stop saying you don’t have time. It’s stupid.
Reinvent your schedule, one 15-minute habit at a time.