Reframing "I don't have enough time"
We know. There are a lot of things to do. But. There’s not infinite time.
We’ve been talking to each other and so many people about the fact that there’s “not enough time” in the past couple of weeks. The conclusion in so many of these conversations has been that… maybe this feeling is just part of life. Should we let go of the illusion that it will get better when ____?
We hear people say these things all the time. We say these things!
It will be better when…
- I’m in college
- I’m out of college
- I’m done with the dissertation
- The kids are X age
- I have X amount of $
The reality is… life is full! What it is filled with changes, but in our experience, the feeling of “I have all these things I want to do” and “not enough time to do them” doesn’t really vanish.
If we can accept that the idea of having plenty of time to do all the things we want is a figment of our imagination, maybe we will get some of the feelings we’re searching for…
- Not being overwhelmed
- Feeling like we have space to think and be creative
- Not being in a rush
- Not looking towards the future for relief, but giving ourselves the permission to accept where we are right now
- Feeling like we do, indeed, have enough time. But we need to adjust our expectations.
Before we get to a list of tips to help you let go of this thought that you “don’t have enough time”, we want to link this idea to perfectionism. We’ve been talking about perfectionism a lot this month, and the idea that you NEED to get everything done can easily be linked to these perfectionistic tendencies. Think about it… have you said any of these unhelpful things to yourself lately?
- I have to do it all
- I have to do it a certain way
- I have to do it in a certain time
- I’m failing - I’m not going fast enough
- I’m failing at my to do list
Our minds are SO good at being the “gap”. We don’t ever sit down at night and think, “Wow! I got 5 things done!” Or “I got to spend some quality time with friends!” Or “I feel so rested because I took a break!”
Instead, we often say “I didn’t get so many things done.” Or, “There just isn’t enough time.”
What if we could adjust our expectations? What if we could get into a mainframe where we acknowledge the reality that there is no day in which the list will be complete?
Let’s dig into 5 tips to reframe the ridiculously unhelpful loop of “I don’t have enough time”.
⭐️ Ask yourself “what if this we’re easy?”
We heard Tim Ferris say this to someone once… “What if this were easy?” We’ve been using it lately to help us simplify tasks that we want to do. Because there is a huge variation of time things CAN take us. We could spend 17 days making one webpage, or a long time making a complex practice plan… but then we create more barriers for ourselves. So instead of saying “I don’t have time”, try saying “How can I make this easy enough so I do have time.” It won’t always work, but in our experience, more can be simplified than we sometimes admit.
⭐️ Remember that saying yes is saying no to something else
You’ve heard this before, but, it really is true. One way to reframe your relationship to “I don’t have enough time” is to acknowledge that you don’t have infinite amounts of it. Yes, it can be SO hard to say no! But, this is our public service announcement: you can say no and you need to say no!
⭐️ Observe what is taking energy and what is giving energy
This one is huge. Busy is different than exhausted or drained or burnt out. There is a great podcast on No Stupid Questions titled “Can You Learn to Love Hard Work?” Love this podcast - and in it Angela Duckworth talks about the fact that although her life as a professor is busy - it isn’t draining! She feels so energized after teaching. What things in your life make you feel energized after you do them? Do more of those. (Yes, life will always have things we don’t want to do, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be great at acknowledging what is really fun to do!)
⭐️ Accept that slow progress is still - indeed - progress!
This may be the magic ticket. Have something you really want to do that you feel like you don’t have time for? Wake up 5 min earlier and dedicate time to it! Wouldn’t you rather wake up in a year having made it a modest way than no way at all?
Often when we say “I don’t have enough time” we really mean… I don’t have enough time to do this particular thing exactly the way I want to in a limited timeframe.
So let’s redefine how we need to do the thing (what would make this easy) and let’s redefine the timeframe in which it needs to get done (I’ll do a tiny bit for the next 6 months). We didn’t miraculously create more time, but we miraculously reframed the idea that there isn’t enough time for it.
⭐️ Defer it
It's okay to decide to defer a task until later. Put it on a "I don't need to do this right now" list to ease your mind. Sometimes, giving yourself permission to NOT do the thing and keep writing it down can be very liberating.
⭐️ One last bonus tip… don’t look towards the future as the solution.
We’re just as guilty as anyone of this, and we mentioned it at the top of this post. But imagining there will be a day where miraculously this issue of not having enough time will be solved isn’t it. Instead, you’ve got to find ways to accept that we have to navigate this feeling and work with it. What’s most important now? How can I make progress without having to clear my schedule? How can I make this easier? And how can I adjust my expectations that I should be able to get everything done?! What if you said… “I have enough time.” How does that feel?!
We hope these tips help. If you ever want some 1:1 coaching on how to prioritize your time and adjust your mindset, we’re here for you. Talking this out with someone can be so useful.