I don't have enough time.

I don't have enough time.

Not!

It's really beginning to irritate me when someone complains, "I don't have enough time." Why? Well, you have the same amount of time as you always have. Often, saying you don't have enough time means, "I don't have enough time for you."

Since the amount of clock time you have is fixed, in fact it's a rare constant in this topsy-turvy world, saying you don't have enough is simply a statement of your priorities. It's short for, "I don't have enough time for X."

A friend of mine is going through a divorce, a move, looking for a job, watching after two kids, and tending some messy, third-world, hardly-know-em houseguests. When she said she didn't have enough time to continue with our group, she was saying that more immediate needs were being forced upon her. Time wasn't the issue so much as fate having dealt her a rotten hand to play. Twenty-four hours a day of relationship and moving and job anxiety is a bitch. Jamming forty-eight hours of misery into every day is obviously not the solution.

A colleague and I are wrangling because I suggested her work was less than useful in getting a report done. The reply came back that in her "not so spare time." she had gotten the ball rolling. On one level, I'm angry that I wasted my time decoding what she'd written. On another, the "not-so-spare time" comment carries with it the hint that her time is worth more than mine. Or than somebody's. Aside from that, it confuses effort with results.

Hearing someone complaining not having time is about as pleasant as hearing about their flu symptoms or the time they laughed so hard they blew milk out their nose. Better to tell it like it is. For example,

    "I am having a tough time sorting out my priorities."

    "I have so much time that I can waste some complaining about the tough time I'm having sorting out my priorities."

    "You're using your time on such pitiful activities that it's worth your while to listen to me drone on about the inevitable. How about the economy, eh?"

    "When I can't get my life in order, I blame external factors like time instead of shouldering responsibility for the choices I have made."

I'd tell you more but the dogs are hungry, I haven't finished doing my taxes, and the house needs vacuuming.


Posted by Jay Cross at April 9, 2002 03:24 PM | TrackBack
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