“I don’t have time” appears to be one of the common answers I hear whenever I ask people about their professional or personal development activity.
Regardless of your reasons behind using the sentence, believe me when I say “I understand”. I have used it many times before.
What’s your main reason for using this sentence?
I used it as a way to present myself as a victim. But was that really the reason? What was I really saying?
The bottom line is the phrase is really impersonal even though there’s an “I” in it. It’s impersonal because it doesn’t express our thoughts honestly. Thus, I propose the following two (2) alternatives.
1 – I’m not willing to
Does the question “could you spare any change?” sound familiar? What do you do when the guy at the corner says those words to you?
I don’t know about you but I regularly lie. Whether I have change or not, my answer is always “No”. Now, is it true that I can’t spare any change or a dollar? Not really.
What do I really mean when I say “No”? It’s simple, I don’t want to give them money because I don’t trust them to use it wisely.
This story is similar to the “I don’t have time” situation. Behind all the valid reasons for using the phrase, what I really mean is I don’t want to do it.
Interestingly, people are very receptive when I say “I’m not willing to XXX.”
As an example, rather than lying to the homeless, crossing the street to avoid them, or ignoring them, I simply say I’m not willing to give you money is there anything else I could do for you? All of them have simply moved on to the next person.
Realize that “I’m not willing” is an empowering statement that simply says what you want to say without having to come up with the excuses as to why you don’t have time.
2 – I value other things more
Here’s an interesting observation. I have been in meeting in which several people said “I don’t have time for anything” and then I ran into them taking a smoke break ten minutes later. When did smoking become more important than work? I thought they didn’t have time for anything other than work!
Here are some of the things I have done at time where I have expressed not having time.
- Watched 6 hours of my favorite shows.
- Played video games for 2-3 hours.
- Had a deep conversation with a friend for 3 hours.
- Walked my dog for an hour.
- Exercised for 2 hours.
- Watch 2 hours of YouTube videos.
I’m sure you can relate.
My point is pretty simple: we make time for whatever we consider valuable. Thus, what stops us from simply being honest and say “we have other things on our agenda that we consider more important than your current request”?
The challenge for you today is to stop using “I don’t have time” and be a little more honest with yourself and others.