I’ve been trying for a long time to get the phrase “I didn’t have time” out of my speech and replace it with (some variation of) “I didn’t make this a priority”. It forces me to be more honest with myself about what I did with my time.

When someone says “I didn’t have time” they’re probably saying one of the following:

  • “I didn’t make this a priority”
  • “This was on my list but other tasks took more time than expected”
  • “Something unexpected came up that changed my priorities”
  • “I over promised what could be accomplished with the resources I had available”
  • “I have no intention of ever making this a priority”

So why not just say the thing you actually mean? Partially because it means potential reprisal from the person you’re talking to (“What do you mean this isn’t a priority?!”) and partially because you’re lying to yourself. You’re a good person, right? You do what you say you’ll do. You just didn’t have enough time!

It’s not my fault! Time just got away from me!

The real problem is when you’re reflecting on your day, week, year, or life, and you think “I didn’t get that thing done because I just didn’t have time,” when in reality you just never made it a priority.

  • Why aren’t you in shape?
    • No time to exercise!
  • Why didn’t you write that novel?
    • No time to write!
  • Why don’t you [anything]?
    • NO. TIME.

When you admit that things aren’t a priority it helps you recognize what is actually important to you. If you’re making things a priority that aren’t important to you then you need to make a change. If you watch tv for hours every night before bed instead of starting a business but you’re happy with that, then just admit that starting a business isn’t really a priority to you and stop acting like it is. On the other hand if you lay in bed every night and think you wasted your time you need to figure out why you aren’t prioritizing the things that are important to you.

Maybe those things are not important to you. Or maybe you need to work on your discipline and change your priorities. I think people are happier when they’re honest with others, and with themselves; I know I am.