If you’re at all a component of the social world, I’ll take a wild gamble and guess at some point along the way you’ve heard the expression, “I didn’t have time!” You know, like when you kindly ask a family member or close friend to drop something off or pick something up for you. After they mutter the common phrase, you glance at them with wide, burning eyes and furrowed brows. “YOU DIDN’T HAVE TIME TO PUT MY OUTGOING MAIL IN THE MAILBOX? You didn’t have one extra minute in your day to run your bum to the mailbox for me? It takes one minute at the most. Oh, for three days in a row… Really? You can’t be serious.
Previously, I wouldn’t see an issue with using time as my excuse. Like, at all. In fact, time was my go-to excuse for nearly everything I didn’t do. Instead of simply saying, “I’m sorry, I forgot,” I collaborated a long excuse of everything I neglected to do that day because I, “didn’t have time.” Honestly, I was the worst at wasting time, then making myself believe I just didn’t have time. *sigh*
In the past, these four words rolled off my tongue frequently, believe me. However, after hearing the words mumbled multiple times in a day, from multiple people, in multiple settings, I began analyzing what the phrase implies indefinitely, to those who use it.
At one point, I questioned the validity of why I used time as an excuse. Is it easier to state that “I didn’t have time?” Would others be more understanding of that justification? Did I actually run OUT of time or did I not use my time wisely? Was their request too inconvenient, but I didn’t want to say that? So, breaking down the psychology behind the expression interested me, to say the least. So, here I am, explicitly defining why time is NOT an excuse.
An additive to the subject matter – I’m under the notion I can list “proficient in people watching” as a skill in my resume LOL. When I really need to study, I force myself into a small, enclosed graduate quarrel in the basement of Murphy Library, so I’m not distracted by all walks of life zooming past me. I guess I’m not an “expert” by any means, but I’ve done due diligence in studying individuals, human interactions, and… their rhetorical phrases of “time.”
Time is Simply a Measure. But, It’s a Valuable Measure.
Everyone, and I mean EVERY HUMAN BEING on the planet has the SAME continuous ticking clock. There’s no confusion about that. I’ve pondered one question for quite some time now: how is it possible some individuals consistently use the justification, “I didn’t have time,” when others consistently complete every task needed AND still have additional time for leisure?
The answer: your choices, your priorities, and the importance level of each. These measures determine the time remaining for leisure. Each task has a different time frame, which also depends upon each person’s abilities. Each person knows their given abilities and the average amount of time needed to complete something, so they’ll generally plan accordingly. Each and every human being is allotted the same amount of time, every day. Nonetheless, the ways in which we exert the intangible measure has infinite possibilities. Ask each person how much time they have per day, the answer is the same. Ask again how much time they spent sleeping, working, doing homework, shopping, etc. The answer will vary.
I Get It, Time Seems Insufficient.
The kids are probably sick, given the time of year it is, then they pass the sickness to you. You don’t feel like being productive, yet the dirty laundry is screaming your name and the dishes are stacked across the counter top. After rushing one kid to soccer, you chauffeur another to baseball. You stop by the post office, then pick up groceries shortly after. If supper isn’t ready when the rest of the clan arrives home with empty stomachs, you’ll be in trouble. By the end of the afternoon, you don’t even care if supper implies hamburger helper, as long as it makes your family happy.
I get it.
Maybe you’re a full-time student, you’re employed at two jobs, you’re studying constantly and attempting to maintain a social life. Your weekend is booked. Your mom has assigned tasks that won’t fit in your schedule.
I totally get it.
I don’t have more than one child or kids old enough for extracurriculars thus far in my life. I don’t have two jobs as a full-time undergraduate student, but life is still hard. If you move through life maintaining a cynical attitude, life is and will always be hard. However, time shouldn’t be the excuse for incomplete tasks or ones you threw to the side for later.
For example, lately I have been swamped with school work. We just bought a house and there’s literally twenty things on my to-do list to finish up before her first birthday party. Are they necessary to complete immediately? Not exactly. Am I procrastinating my school work to check off items on my “house to-do list”? Absolutely. If I sent an email to my professor explaining to her that my husband and I recently purchased a house and I couldn’t complete the assignment because “I didn’t have enough time”, would she give me an extension? Absolutely not. So, I have to allocate my time wisely. And so do you.
Your Time Depends on Your Choices.
I’m not indicating I never have days that are so hectic, I’m literally unable to eat. Those days are the worst. I totally believe you when you say, “This day has been so busy, I haven’t had time to do this or that.” Because, let’s face it, we ALL have those days. You DO have days where you cannot functionally make time to complete everything under the sun in a 24-hour period. And that’s fine!
My concern and annoyance develops when the excuse evolves into a habit. We probably all know that one person who has an excuse for everything. They could be found posting or scrolling through social media for hours on end, prior to recently explaining they, “Didn’t have time.”
What I AM implying is this: every morning when you lift your head off your pillow, you have the freedom of choice. You have the choice to rise and shine or remain in bed. You have the choice to place tasks in chronological order, in terms of importance to you. The choices you make formulate the components of your day – it’s up to you to decide how you’ll make the day successful (or whatever success means to you).
You’ll have bumps in the road, obstacles standing in your way, and people attempting to transfer their negative energy to you. It’s all in your hands. Even during uncontrollable circumstances, your attitude and the way you present yourself is ultimately your choice. Time is dependent on your choices (most of the time). It shouldn’t be the excuse for everything… All 365 days of the year.
Sure, each person’s availability of time depends upon the day, but I’ll inform you with the repetitive truth. The ways in which you spend your time is based upon your choices, priorities, motivation, and discipline – or the lack thereof. I could easily be checking something else off my to-do list for the day – working out, grocery shopping, studying, etc. I’m prioritizing the events within my day as we speak – and you are, too.
Tips for Better Time Management
- Use a planner – seriously, just look at your planner everyday. Write things down. Enough said. Thank me later.
- Keep your goals in mind – sounds pretty self-explanatory, but actually very complex. Make sure you have your goals in mind when you feel yourself procrastinating. I promise it will motivate you to stay on track. I often think, alright, I’m going to sit down and watch a movie or binge and Netflix it up. Then I think of what I want to accomplish by the end of the day, or week, or month. Nopeee, I’m not going to fuel my procrastination.
- (Somewhat) Plan your day – No, I don’t mean write down a list of times and things you MUST have done by that time, but give yourself a time frame for completing something. Make sure you’re being realistic. Don’t tell yourself you’re going to prep your weeks worth of meals within 30 minutes – not.going.to.happen.
- Complete hard tasks FIRST – Nothing feels better than getting the hardest task done and out of the way. You will be so relieved and stress-free after.
- Limit time spent on social media – I know, I know. I’m crazy, right? Blogging is all about marketing yourself via any and all social media sites. And although I do exactly that, I also limit the time I spend surfing social media on my phone especially. Time seems to fly by when I’m on my phone, which is exactly why I have been trying really hard to limit it.
- FOCUS! – Do not try to multitask everything on your to-do list, all at once! It just takes even longer and will stress you out. For example, when cleaning your house, clean by room. Do not try to walk through every room picking random stuff up, then walking across the house to put it away, then sweeping here, dusting there. You will lose track of where you’re at in the cleaning process. This goes for most tasks when managing your time. Start at completing one task before starting another, it will be so much easier to say focused.
Some Days, You Just Need to Forget About Time.
When referring to prioritizing your day, if your main priority is to watch the new episode of your favorite TV series – indulge in your Netflix game! Some days, I make the decision to be unproductive or simply play with my daughter (my favorite part of every day). I’m not implying you should be productive every day, whatsoever. If you forgot to do something, say that! You shouldn’t feel guilty about relaxing for the day, either. We all need a little time to spend being unproductive – it keeps us sane. Plus, those relaxation days are well-deserved after being productive multiple days in a row.
So, what’s the Confusion?
When speaking in terms of time, you are not a special circumstance (that sounds way more harsh than I mean it to be). It’s really not that you didn’t have time. You didn’t use your time reasonably. Maybe you lost track of time. Really, that’s all it is. Don’t feel ashamed. It happens; it’s bound to happen. Regardless, time never stops. Spend your time and effort to the best of your abilities.
What you don’t have time for is completing everything in one day, or one week, or whatever the case may be. You can’t do everything at once. You can’t cross everything off your bucket list in one day (unless you created one that’s completely feasible to do so – go for it!). Otherwise, you’re only one person. That’s not to diminish your life goals of changing the world in reference to you being just one person, but more to enlighten you with the fact that it’s OK to admit you cannot finish everything you’ve set out to in a 24-hour period. Did you hear me? IT’S OK! But, you do have a mental list of priorities… and you do have time. Get the high priority tasks out of the way FIRST. You’ll thank yourself later when you’re relaxing rather than rushing to complete everything at 10 o’clock at night. (Trust me on this one – way too good at forgetting about everything until last minute.)
You don’t have time to wait for opportunity to find you. Chase your goals and dreams. Stop waiting for them to find you. It won’t happen. Life is too short. You can’t waste your time wondering “what if.” I wrote this in a caption on one of my Instagram photos this week – you do not have time to dwell on minuscule things. Focus on what really matters and WHO really matters. Find beauty in the small things, the stuff that makes you hopeful and inspired. Invest your time into that.
The world seems to spin incredibly fast. Time is more valuable than money. When you invest your time in something or someone, you’re giving something you can’t get back. Money comes and goes. You’ll spend money, then earn it back when you go to work the next day. You can’t snap your fingers and rewind your day. You can’t fast forward. So treasure your days. Treasure your life. And just remember, you DO have time.
“There’s only one thing more precious than our time and that’s who we spend it on.” – Leo Christopher