We all have pet peeves - those little things that bug us that others may not even notice. Maybe it’s people that don’t merge in traffic when they are supposed to. Maybe it’s your kids leaving their shoes around the house. For me, it’s a pretty simple one – it makes me crazy when somebody tells me they don’t have time to do something.
Now, let me be clear. I know many people in both my personal and professional life that have jam-packed calendars. These folks are very, very busy, so I definitely understand why they sometimes say they don’t have time. Heck, I know I’ve been guilty of saying the same thing before when my own calendar gets packed. I definitely empathize with people who are busy. But the reason the comment frustrates me when I make it or when others make it is because it takes away the person’s responsibility to make a choice in how they spend their time. When I’ve told people “I’m sorry, I just can’t fit it in right now,” what I’m really saying is that I have other things that I think are more important to do. And that’s a key distinction.
When I recognize and accept that I am the one making choices about what goes on my calendar and how I spend my time, I take more responsibility for making the right choices. I’m more thoughtful about which things really need to go on my calendar immediately, which things can wait until later and which things do not need to go on it at all. When I accept responsibility for my time, I start evaluating different opportunities and choose the ones that align with my goals, the goals of my organization and the goals of my family.
Ultimately, we all have 24 hours in a day. We have to spend at least some of that time eating and sleeping, but it is our choice how we fill the remainder of those 24 hours. And when I step back and realize that, it’s both sobering and empowering. I can’t make excuses that I don’t have time because I do have time. It’s my time and I need to take responsibility for how I use it.