I teach somewhere in the ballpark of 15 classes a week (if I’m helping with class coverage that number is easily closer to 20), in addition to writing and publishing a weekly blog, creating and sending out monthly content for intenSati, prepping and planning my own lessons and creating playlists, facilitating teacher trainings – on top of being a mom. I love my life and I love what I get to wake up and do each day, but there are times where it all seems “too much”, where I just want to work on my book, take a nap or decompress by reading a book and there simply isn’t time.
I’m too busy.
I don’t have time.
There aren’t enough hours in the day.
According to a Gallup survey, 48% of Americans today say they don’t have enough time. Doesn’t seem surprising since our to-do lists keep growing alongside a finite amount of time in any given day. Time is limited and if your life is like anyone else in this world, attempting to move a project forward, run a company, manage your family’s schedule – or maybe all three – you lead a busy life.
…but it is simply that we are “too busy” or are we making an excuse for time?
Up until recently I would have argued that there are not enough hours in the day and that I am highly effective at prioritizing my day. And while there is truth to both of those sentiments – I do a lot in any given day or week and I am good at prioritizing what I’m doing or have to get done – the reality is what I’m choosing to dedicate time to speaks volumes.
It’s not a question of how busy you are. It’s a matter of how important something is to you.
In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Laura Vanderkam, a leading expert in time management and productivity, says we’re not as busy as we think we are:
“Instead of saying, ‘I don’t have time’, try saying, ‘it’s not a priority’, and see how that feels. Often that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets. I just don’t want to. But other things are harder. Try it: ‘I’m not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it’s not a priority.’ ‘I don’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.’ If these phrases don’t sit well, that’s the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently.”
We say “I don’t have time” when life gets busy or when we don’t want to feel guilty about skipping something.
If we don’t have time to work out, it’s easy to accept that our clothes are tighter.
If we don’t have enough time to prepare a healthy meal at home, it’s easier to accept our next unhealthy, take-out option.
If we don’t have enough time to clean the house, it’s easier to accept the piles of clothing strewn across the floor.
If we don’t have time to apply for the new job and make connections, it’s easier to stay in a dead-end, unfulfilling job.
If we don’t have time to hang out with important people in our life, it’s easier to accept when things don’t work out or we’re simply not as close to those individuals.
It’s easier to say, “I don’t have time” instead of admitting, “I’m simply not prioritizing this”.
Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently
What this really means, if we’re being honest, is that we’re accountable – at least partly – to the time we don’t think we have.
Telling ourselves we’re too busy to take a lunch break given our workload or because no one else is taking one falls apart under cross-examination because unless you are physically chained to your desk (which warrants an entirely different conversation), you can walk outside for some fresh air. And, if you sit with it a bit more, will your boss really fire you, demote you or even reprimand you for being gone for 20 minutes? I don’t know your boss, but I’m guessing not.
The same principle applies to all facets of our life.
What would happen if the laundry never got put away neatly? Would your kids be scarred for life? Doubtful.
What would happen if you didn’t spend hours creating choreography and mapping out playlists? Would people stop coming to your classes? Unlikely.
What would happen if you didn’t respond to every text and email that flooded your inbox in a certain timeframe? Is anyone going to die waiting for a response? Unless you’re in the medical field, probably not.
If we can establish that the world wouldn’t end or implode if you take a break from “doing the things” and being “too busy”, then what you’re left with is the fear of sitting with the discomfort that’s holding you back.
When we can realize “busy” isn’t a synonym for worthiness and that our time is a choice and a reflection of what matters, we open the door to saying yes to the things that light us up – we open the door to designing a life that energizes us, inspires us, and gives us a deeper sense of purpose.
When I started replacing “I don’t have time” for “it’s not a priority”, the real truth stung… a lot.
I don’t have time to write my book (you know, because of alllllll the stuff I’m doing) // Writing my book isn’t a priority.
I don’t have time to sleep or nap // Taking care of myself isn’t a priority.
I don’t have time to eat the way I want to eat throughout my day // Changing my mindset around food and my body isn’t a priority.
I don’t have time to read one book a month like I use to // Fueling myself and filling my soul cup isn’t a priority.
I don’t have time to hang out with friends // Meaningful connections aren’t a priority for me.
Suddenly the excuse of time becomes a weak argument and the reality of the situation stings.
It’s not what we say is a priority, but what we actually do that’s a priority.
It was a huge ah-ha moment for me – one that actually had me stop twice while writing this blog – because, wait for it – I took naps. Yes. I put down the pen and paper and slept. I actually let myself rest. It’s a small step but an important one to take, one that reminds me that it’s what I’m choosing to do that matters most.
This week I’m reevaluating what’s really important in my life and I’m finding ways to create time for those things.
What’s one thing you’ve been saying is a priority, but really hasn’t been? And what’s one step you’re going to take today to make it a real priority? Let me know in the comments below 🙂