Finding Time, Having Time or Making Time?

“I want to work out, but I just can’t find the time to exercise.” How often have you heard that or something similar? Perhaps you’ve said it yourself. Another version might be, “I don’t have the time to exercise.” These expressions can be true in a sense, but, more often, they’re ways we use to excuse ourselves from making a needed change.

It’s not just our personal lives. People are telling me something similar at work, where I am charged with managing many issues that cross department and business unit boundaries. Bringing individuals together and getting them to focus beyond their narrow interests isn’t easy.   Pretty often I hear something like, “Pete, this issue is very important to me, but I can’t spare the time right now.” Or maybe, “Let’s set up a meeting” but no convenient time can ever be found in their schedules.

There’s an internal discordance in these situations and the way they’re described; I want to – but I can’t, It’s important – but I can’t. And certain passivity is also implied. It’s not that “I choose not to,” but rather that “I can’t,” that is, I am prevented from taking action by an external constraint. There just is no way I can do that because there is no time.

Yesterday, I got this, “I care deeply, but can’t help, no time” message from a coworker about something – something I consider very important – and it’s bothering me. I’m tired of it, and I don’t think I can just ignore this phenomenon any more. What is the truth?

So I’m going to start (as nicely as I am able) to call people out on this, myself included. (see this post and this post ) If you say it’s important, but can’t find the time, perhaps, as Joe Wilson indecorously put it, “You lie!” and it’s really not an important issue to you. Have you considered that you may be deceiving yourself? People do, and pretty commonly. Or, maybe you’re just looking for a good excuse to use in public

Truly, time is not the problem. Many people who can’t find the time to exercise watch a lot of TV; Americans watch about 3 to 5 hours a day on average. Work isn’t “all work” either. Any honest business leader will admit that a lot of time is wasted by managers and staff each week. Not necessarily on purpose, but that’s my point – are we using our time intentionally?

It’s time to be intentional, personally and professionally. Is it important? Do you want to? If the answer is no, be honest and say so. I can handle hearing, “Pete your problem just isn’t that important.” At least then I’ll know where you stand on the matter, and I can move ahead without waiting for help that isn’t coming.

If the answer is yes, end the passivity. Don’t try to find the time. Don’t look to see if you have the time. Instead, choose to make the time.