Don't Have Enough Time? This Post Is For You!
I was deep in conversation with my best friend, TA.
“It’s really hard, TA. Lyric is into everything and oftentimes she only wants me. In the free time I do have, I feel really guilty if I’m not writing or working on my business. I feel like I just don’t have enough time to workout and meal plan.”
Not one to hold his tongue (because that’s just how he is and one of the many reasons why I love him), TA flat out said, “Tisha, it’s not that you don’t have time. It’s just that it’s not a priority to you. You told me that Oprah taught you that, remember?”
Ouch. There they were -- my own words coming back to give me a good awakening right when I needed them the most.
“I don’t have enough time.”
The excuse that has robbed the entire world of brilliance for centuries. The reason that has stopped people dead in their tracks from doing something beneficial to themselves and to mankind. The rationale that keeps us stuck and unhappy.
I can’t remember exactly when I heard Oprah teach me the reframe I’m about to share with you. I think I may have read it in a magazine. All I know is that her words have always stuck with me. She basically said, “It’s not that you don’t have the time. It’s just that it’s not a priority to you.”
When I read that, it made total sense to me. I felt empowered by it.
Instead of falling victim to Father Time and outside forces vying for my time, it really does feel more powerful to say, “Yeah, that’s not really a priority for me right now, so I’m not going to stress out on how to make that happen.”
It just lands differently.
Think about it: if you’re constantly running around to and fro like a chicken with its head cut off, you’re probably not showing up in your life powerfully and authentically. You’re rushed, frazzled and barely hanging on by a thread. That’s a complete disservice to your personal genius and to the people you really want to serve.
When TA said that to me, a light went off in my brain. By reframing the way I was describing the situation, I was able to see where my true priorities lie. When I said out loud to myself, “It’s not that I don’t have the time. It’s just that working out and eating healthy aren’t a priority to me right now,” I realized that I was really trying to put my health and personal wellbeing on the last rung of the ladder.
That’s not what I teach my students and my clients.
Self-care is always a top priority. I preach that all day long until I’m blue in the face. Yet here I was, by virtue of my conversation with TA, saying, “It’s not a priority to me.”
Just saying it out loud made me realize how messed up I was viewing the whole situation. It gave me much needed clarity and set me straight really quickly.
HB, I completely get it. You are a one person powerhouse. You run meetings, your household, your finances, your passions, your life. It can feel really overwhelming. I love that meme with the caption, “Me trying to excel at work, maintain a social life, drink enough water, exercise, text everybody back, stay sane, survive & be happy.”
That’s exactly how it feels. I can’t tell you how many times I have stayed in bed with my mind spinning with everything I need to accomplish (yet not actually getting up because it just feels like too much).
If this is you, I want you to know that you are not alone. We are all struggling with the juggling, boo. I want you to know that you are totally capable of rocking your time management skills and truly putting your priorities first in your life and your career.
Here is my three step process for transforming your relationship with your priorities and creating much needed time in your schedule to focus on those priorities:
1. Conduct a one-week time audit.
Did you know that you are a manager? Yes, you. Every week you are given 168 hours of time to manage as you see fit. Can you honestly tell me how you are spending those 168 hours?
For the next week, I want you to track your activities with specificity.
Yes, you go to work from 9 AM to 6 PM Monday thru Friday. What did you do during that time? Did you scroll Facebook for 10 minutes as you waited for your 10 AM meeting? Did you swing by Chic-Fil-A on your lunch break and then eat it at your desk?
When you came home from work, did you plop yourself down on the couch and binge watch Schitts Creek? Take a shower and then proceed to scroll Instagram in bed as you tried to fall asleep? Was it 2 AM before you shut your eyes? Did you have to push Snooze several times when your alarm went off at 6 AM? Did you mutter, “Oh, shit” under your breath as you realized you didn’t have any clean clothes to wear yet again because you didn’t do your laundry?
On Saturday, did you sleep late, head to a boozy brunch with your besties and then head home for another Netflixacoma? Did you spend Sunday, lounging in bed all day but still falling asleep at 2 AM?
It’s important to really get clear on how you’re spending your time because oftentimes we rush around thinking we don’t have time when the reality is we are just mismanaging the time that we do have. It’s only by doing this exercise that you can start to see how much Netflix really consumes your life.
If you have a smartphone, you can also track how much time you spend weekly on your phone and which apps get the most attention. For me, it’s Pinterest and Instagram. When I saw 10+ hours on social media, my jaw dropped. That’s 10+ hours that I could be allocating to reading, working out, meal prepping, etc.
When you see where your time actually goes, you can then start freeing up time for what really matters.
Which brings me to #2,
2. Name your priorities.
What is really important to you? Maybe you’re super career oriented or you love being a stay at home parent? Maybe you value learning new skills or maybe you love nothing more than reading poetry on your lanai? Or perhaps “me time” is your daily hot yoga class where you literally feel like you’re sweating out every problem, worry, or anxiety you have? Or you care deeply about the environment so you’re learning how to compost and reduce your carbon footprint?
Think about what matters deeply to you and write it down in your own handwriting. Oftentimes, we go thru life feeling like something is off and we just can’t put our finger on it. That’s because we aren’t in alignment with what matters to us because we haven’t taken the time to get crystal clear on what those priorities are.
Newsflash, HB: we all have different priorities -- different things matter deeply to us.
For example, I value autonomy and freedom (it must be the Sagittarius in me). That may not be the top top priority for you. Perhaps for you, it’s safety and reliability. These differing priorities may guide us to make different decisions -- decisions that are authentic to who we are and what we really value. I may feel just fine renting an apartment (because, in a year, I can get up and go) and you may want to purchase a home (because you want the feeling of forever).
It’s important to consider how our initial priorities are formed. A funny thing can happen as we grow up -- we take on other people’s priorities. Whether it’s our parents, our friends, our culture, we take on what others deem to be important and maybe haven’t stopped to think about what is truly important to us.
For example, if your parents always talked about the importance of a college education, you may think that getting a college education is the only way to “make it” in the world. You may feel a lot of guilt and shame for not getting your Bachelor’s and you may beat yourself up daily because you didn’t measure up to their level of success.
The reality is that a college education is not necessarily a prerequisite for success, especially in today’s world where we have access to all sorts of resources and technology. There are so many successful entrepreneurs who didn’t go to college and have changed the way we live our lives.
What really matters in this example is that you assess what is important to you -- perhaps you don’t want to shell out money for a degree. Maybe you’d rather invest that money in real estate and hire capable employees to fulfill the strategic and operational processes that make a real estate business run.
There are literally a gazillion ways to do something and we tend to get stuck in viewing the world in “this or that” mentality. It causes a lot of stress, shame and self-bashing, when it really doesn’t need to.
3. Let go of anything that doesn’t align.
Once you have stated your priorities, it becomes easier to use them as a guide for your life.
There are literally an infinite amount of options and it can be really hard to determine which way to go. When you know what your priorities are, decision making becomes easier because you always view each decision through the lens of your priorities.
Now that you’ve conducted your one week time audit and you’ve stated what is important to you, do a comparison. Does the way you spend your time reflect what it is important to you?
If there is a mismatch between your time management and your priorities, don’t beat yourself up. We’ve all been there. Now that you are aware, you can do something about it.
From now on, your new time management best practice is to say NO to anything that doesn’t align with your priorities.
“How would this look in my life, LaTisha?”
I’m glad you asked, HB.
Let’s say you are invited to chair the Spring Gala committee. It’s a huge time commitment and you’d pretty much be spending all of your waking hours organizing, planning and directing a volunteer staff of 100 people.
However, one of your priorities is self-care and rest. You can already feel your temples throbbing from the stress of having to send a million e-mails to the caterer about the food options. You’re already exhausted and you haven’t even said YES to the request.
Guess what your answer is, boo. Your answer is NO. Hard pass. Why? It does NOT align with your priorities, so the answer is NO. It isn’t truly important to you. Will the ladies be upset? Sure, but if they’re your friends, they’ll understand. If not, they aren’t a priority, either (because another one of your priorities is genuine relationships aka no more people pleasing).
Here’s the deal: an empty well serves no water. If you keep saying YES to things to make others happy or to fill an empty void in your life, you will eventually hit a wall. Whether it’s adrenal fatigue or panic attacks, your body will probably start to tell you, “Hey, this isn’t working. We gotta make a change.”
Don’t let it get to this point.
You now know what’s important to you. You’ve identified that GO, GO, GO is a NO, NO, NO for you. Honor that. Honor your priorities. Let them guide your life.
This may mean turning down a six figure job that’s gonna eventually burn you out with stress. Or saying no to margaritas at Ninfa’s because you are focused on sobriety. Or declining being in your cousin’s wedding because you’ve already been in five weddings this year and you’re spent (physically and monetarily).
Having a hard time getting the words out? Feel free to throw me under the bus. “My virtual Life Coach has told me that if it doesn’t align with my priorities, I must say NO. So the answer is NO.” That’s it. The time has come for you to get comfortable with saying NO. Because everytime you say NO to something that’s not a priority, you’re really saying YES to yourself. (I don’t know about you, but I want to say YES to myself more.)
Don’t get it twisted: I’m not giving you a hall pass to shirk your responsibilities. I am NOT saying, “Oh, the job you currently work at isn’t a priority to you. Quit.”
If you’ve identified that financial freedom and taking care of your family are priorities to you, part of that is showing up at your job, doing your best and making your money. If you’re really unhappy at work, that means that you use your free time to figure out your next steps (either finding a job that lights you up or creating a company that will or whatever it is that your brilliant mind comes up with), instead of posting up on the couch and surfing Hulu.
HB, you’ve got one precious life and what a shame it would be to get to the end of it and regret all of the times you put your real priorities last, all because you put people pleasing and others’ priorities first. You were made to experience an authentic life, one that is true to you and that is of your own choosing.
You are worthy of living life of your on your own terms. Get clear on how you’ve been spending your time. Name your priorities. If your time management and your priorities are not lining up, let go of anything that is out of alignment with what is really important to you.
Now it’s your turn. Comment below and let me know the results of your time audit and declaration of priorities. What really surprised you? How are you now taking action? What are you saying NO to?
I’m cheering for you. Like you’re channeling your inner toddler and everything is now NO, NO, NO.
This article is for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.