If you want to get back on the right path toward real prioritization, the first thing you have to do is remove “I don’t have time” from your vocabulary.
Procrastination Or Something Else?
If you’re like me, you often find yourself not getting stuff done. Not just the things you need to do – like washing the dishes, cleaning your clothes, picking the kids up from school – but the stuff you want to do. As a result, much of the time you feel like you’re not accomplishing anything.
That’s a very disheartening feeling – that feeling of “going nowhere”. I very much know how that feels.
Some would say “oh, you’re being lazy” or “oh, you’re just procrastinating”. Or “oh, hey, you should really come pick up your kids”. I’m not saying there is absolutely no truth to the idea that you may be a little lazy or you may be fond of procrastinating but, by and large, I really don’t think that’s the main problem.
The main problem, I believe, is that these days we genuinely have so much to do just to get through the day that we unconsciously freak out and lose all concept of how to prioritize. And when we do that, we condense all of this chaos into one phrase —
— “I don’t have time”.
Convincing Yourself You Don’t Have Time
It starts innocently enough. You’ve got a bunch of things on your plate already and then – oh, shit! You were planning to record that vocal track to your song (guilty). And then you were going to call your friend who is getting married soon (also guilty). And… where are the kids again?!
And let’s not even get started on talking about bills. And fixing things around the house (like that doggy door that, by this point, is so messed up and useless that you discovered a bear cub napping on your couch this morning).
It’s too much! So much so that you are immobilized by everything you have in front of you. Including the bear cub.
So what do you do? Rather than try and prioritize (because, again, it’s too much), you simply say “I don’t have time.”
And it feels good, doesn’t it? Even if just for a second. You’ve let go of some of that adulting responsibility and now there doesn’t seem to be so much to have to do. Sure, there are still things to do, and you will do them, but by and large you’ve just eradicated roughly two-thirds or more of your duties.
Fantastic! The bear cub can stay. The kids have nap time cots at daycare – they’ll be fine overnight.
But, see, that’s the thing. You may feel like you’ve prioritized and are getting things done, but you really haven’t. All of those things you said you don’t have time for… you actually do have to do them.
You can’t leave the kids at daycare. And, I mean, seriously… just try chilling out next to that bear cub.
What’s really happening is that by saying you “don’t have time”, you are actually beginning to convince your brain that whatever it is that you are putting off or putting aside isn’t as important as something else. Sure, that’s part of what prioritization is. But the problem with “I don’t have time” is that, before long, you’ve actually convinced yourself that these other things are not important, to the point that you just don’t do them at all.
If you hear it long enough – even if you’re the one saying it… to yourself – you’ll eventually believe it.
So what can you do about that?
Remove “I Don’t Have Time” From Your Vocabulary
If you want to get back on the right path toward real prioritization, the first thing you have to do is remove “I don’t have time” from your vocabulary. Much like “but” and “I don’t know“, “I don’t have time” is a poison that can warp your brain. It can convince you that you’ve found an easier way to get through the day when in reality all it’s really doing is causing you to remove entire responsibilities from your life.
There may be a responsibility or two that you’re putting on yourself, that you can delegate to someone else. But that’s still an act of true, thoughtful, prioritization. The reality is that we all have a plethora of responsibilities to handle. And while that gigantic pile of things you have to do can be rather daunting, you can’t escape them. Any strategy that removes them entirely is not long-lasting, and can never bear fruit. It will come back to haunt you.
Or bite you in the ass. Like that bear cub.
Where have you found yourself saying “I don’t have time”? How do you think your day, and your responsibilities, might change if you remove that phrase from your vocabulary? Where has “I don’t have time” come back to bite you? What things have you specifically put off using it?