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What do you really mean when you say, “I don’t have time”?
What message are we sending to the person asking for help when we say, “I don’t have time”? The person receiving this response often feels not valued, lied to, and hurt. But, more importantly, we start to lose that person’s trust!
We need to look inward and figure out why we feel the urge to say this. For example, here is a couple of reasons why we may feel compelled to say “I don’t have time”:
- There is a lack of time management skills
- There are competing priorities
- There are unfocused goals or no goals at all
The secret is that we cannot manage time completely. We have 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. We all have the same amount of time no matter where we live, what we do, or how we live. With that said, we can do better with how we go about planning our day.
Keeping an overwhelming calendar, to-do lists, and over-committing isn’t the answer. Instead, we should strive to be open to change. That way, we can pursue balance over productivity first. Setting realistic goals with our priorities listed at the top is essential.
In the south, we say “Bless his little heart,” expressed after a person has made a mistake or doesn’t know any better to soften the blow. “I don’t have time” is another way to ease the disappointment because we don’t know how to say no.
If you find yourself saying, “I don’t have time,” I want you to stop and pause. Think about why you said that or were about to say. Now think about what you should say. After this step, take 10 minutes and do the following:
1. Identify your priorities for the day.
2. Mark off what you have accomplished and still need to do
3. Do the same for the next day
Practice alternative ways to decline or defer when asked to help with something when you feel the urge to say, “I don’t have time.
If this is difficult for you, spend some time brainstorming different tactics you can use that could help you better manage your tasks and expectations for the day. You can start by asking yourself:
- Do you multitask? (Fun fact: Some suggest that we lose 20-40% of our time when trying to multitask.)
- How do you manage your calendar(s)?
- Are there things you could delegate, defer, delete, or do (4 D’s)?
- How do you prioritize your tasks and activities for the day?
- Are you getting enough sleep, a balanced diet, and exercise?
Give yourself the flexibility to try new ways to prioritize better, complete your goals, and plan on the next steps.
There is no one way to manage all the things that come our way, but it is not expected that we do. Learning how to manage yourself is not simple, but it’s worth it for the sake of yourself and the ones around you.
As a colleague once said to me, you will have to make time for it once something becomes a priority. The stakes are too high not to.
Connect, Communicate, and Collaborate. That is the 3C way.
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