A lot of us use the common excuse “I don’t have time” in a myriad of ways. It can be a polite form of rejection. A personal lament when we are overwhelmed. An excuse not to start something new or chase a dream.
There is only one problem. It isn’t true. Ever.
It seems true. It feels true. But it isn’t. After all, there are only so many hours in a day. We have so many commitments and obligations. Yet, this little lie is really about convenience more than truth. It is about ease. It is a line we have made up to excuse what is really going on.
All the Time
The reality is we all have the same number of hours. There is a finite amount of minutes to our day. And while it is true we cannot do everything in a day, there are very few limits to what we can do over a week or month or year.
What I mean is, any individual task is possible. All it takes, and this is the key, is letting something else go. Making room for it. We have the time. The question is really whether this thing is important enough to use the time in the way suggested.
Think about when you accidentally double-book a time-slot. Which do you do? Probably the one you agreed to first or the one that is most important. Either way, if the other thing was really important, you will “make” time for it.
We like the idea of sounding busy and overwhelmed. We think it makes us sound important.
The truth is, we have all the time in the world. No more and no less.
Filling the Time
We fill our time with what matters to us. No exceptions. Even the things you don’t want to do, you are doing them because you want to. You feel you have to or you are worried what someone will think or are afraid your boss will dock your pay. You are choosing whatever you are doing over whatever you could be doing. Sure there would be a consequences to changing your schedule, setting boundaries, and making different choices. But the reality is there are consequences to your current schedule and choices about using your time.
We often refer to navigating priorities as “time management”. But you cannot really manage time, you can only use it. We fill our time with what matters to us. There is no other reason a human does anything other than perceived value.
If chasing your dream was more valuable than your current job, you’d quit and go for it. If a steady paycheck is most important to you, you’ll stay.
We use the excuse about time because we do not want to face the reality (or share it with others) of what is really going on. The thing we are presented with does not matter to us as much as other things. It is a question of value not resource.
It is, after all, much more polite to use the time excuse than to say, “ohhh, I’d love to, but that just doesn’t matter to me as much as the other things I have in mind for that day”. It is harsh, but the latter is the truth.
You should find a more polite way to say this to people, but the bigger issue is in the perspective you have about your own time. You talk about rest but “don’t have the time for it”. You talk about surprising your wife but are “too busy” to make plans. We feel trapped and encumbered by our own choices as if they are external weights. We own them. We can change them. Believe it or not, you have the time.