“but I don’t have time” — Time-stealers and Choices.

Once upon a time, there was a fork in the road… only no one saw it was there.

“I wish I could ___, but I don’t have the time.”  Do you ever catch yourself saying this?  This came up several times in the past week or so and I meant to blog about it sooner… but I “didn’t have enough time.”  Truth is, I was extremely busy preparing for my husband’s graduation and party, but I did find time to play a few games on Facebook.  I made the choice, whether purposeful or not, to do things other than write a blog post.   I needed mindless, and that’s what I got.  Now I need to be productive, so here I am.

I find myself saying “I wish I had time to ___” more times than I care to admit.  But last week, I ended up reading blogs and getting into conversations about choices.  And what we all came to agree upon was that “not having time” had nothing to do with the finite hours of the day, but in our choices in how to manage our time and what we choose to prioritize ahead of those things we “don’t have time for.”  It’s also about the time-stealers that we don’t see coming and often underestimate.

Have you ever taken an accounting of the time choices you made in a day?  It might surprise you to see where you are putting in your time.  Toggl is a great site I found with a free time tracker.  It’s so easy to lose time when you jump online.  How many times have you gone online to check something specific and been side-tracked by emails, games, checking friends status updates, etc. only to find that an hour later you still haven’t pulled the information you intended to gather in the first place? As a WAHM (work-at-home mom), these time-stealers can make or break us.  How many potential customers could you have called instead of tending your online farm?  How many emails could you have drafted in the time it took for you to locate something because your work area was disorganized?  Or how many books could you have read with your child instead of randomly reading status updates?  I’m far from judging those who do those things, because I do them too.  But, I think we all need to be aware that everything we do is a choice of that activity at the expense of another.  We need to be more aware of our choices and be purposeful in what we choose to do.

So the next time you catch yourself saying “I wish I had time to ___,”  stop and think about what you could take off your current priority list so that you now have time to do what you really want to do.  Maybe that online farm or cafe aren’t quite at the top of your priority list when you sit down and write it out… and if they are, then that is your rightful choice.

What did you “not have time for” in the past week?  What did you spend time on that could have been skipped?  My challenge to you is to think about this every time you say that you don’t have time.  It’s my challenge to myself as well.


25 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Susan Berland
    May 16, 2011 @ 21:53:34

    Have you been hiding in my closet spying on me? 🙂 You (and I) are so not alone in this. It really is as though I wrote this. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed that I do nothing and have time for nothing. Other times, I am so easily distracted, just as you say, by email or status updates and then I totally forget what I came to the computer for in the first place! I’ve instituted a “work at home” day even though I’m a work at home person. That is a day designated to working on all that “stuff” that never seems to get done because I’m out on appointments or meeting people for coffee or whatever. When I don’t allow myself to get distracted, I’m amazed at how much I can get done!

    Susan Berland
    A Picture’s Worth


    • jonesrandf
      May 16, 2011 @ 22:11:24

      I think we’ll find that there are a lot of people in the same boat, or at least used to be. Even just the time spent writing this blog post. I try to limit my “work” time to 15 hours per week. I hate strict schedules and have tried to avoid them so that I can follow my daughter’s lead, but I’m finding that doesn’t work as well as I’m trying to grow my business. And it’s not that those distractions aren’t sometimes necessary, because I know I need the mental break, but the time does get away from me easily.


  2. Molly Perry
    May 17, 2011 @ 04:50:11

    As a WAHM, I find that it is so easy to get distracted by things around the house and losing my focus while on the computer. There are never ending tasks while at home–the laundry, pets, etc… Often while on the computer, I end up doing other things (shopping, checking emails, etc..), instead of staying on task. Luckily, I’m still able to get most of my stuff done. However, summer looms with kids at home!


    • jonesrandf
      May 17, 2011 @ 17:18:03

      Those never-ending home tasks do take a lot of time. I always feel like I should be doing something I’m not. If I’m working on the business, I feel bad that I’m not cleaning the house, etc. I’ve been doing “Fly Lady Bingo” on FB. I play 6×15 games where you list 6 tasks and spend 15 minutes each on them, random order as called by whomever is running that game. It’s helped me get control over a lot of my housework and I’m surprised at how much can actually get done in 15 minutes, whereas I might have put it off because it looked overwhelming. I’ll also put work tasks in there so that I balance it all out.


  3. Judy Stone-Goldman
    May 17, 2011 @ 07:39:00

    Oh my gosh, I so know this! I struggle with this constantly, with my day bleeding into things I didn’t quite intend for the amount of time they take. I wrote about this early in the year (when I was thinking about my goals for the year) and I can see I have not made the progress I would have hoped for. I’m quite interested in the time tracker you mentioned, so I’ll check that out.

    I do find that if I write my commitments down in the morning I am more likely to stick with them and less likely to find my time disintegrating. But it’s a constant process to keep myself in the groove of using time wisely!

    Thanks, and welcome to Blogger Monday!

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer
    “My cat owns me, my clutter stymies me, my writing frees me. Word maven loves—and learns from—ordinary life.”


  4. Jen Sako
    May 17, 2011 @ 08:07:09

    Gosh, I’ve got so many little time wasters. The biggest hogs, I’ve given up for a week to see if I really need to visit so often. I find that I don’t really miss them. I still struggle with time management, so I really do try to pay attention!


  5. Laurie Hurley
    May 17, 2011 @ 09:00:47

    Well, I set my timer for 30 minutes when I am online – was trained that way in the Social Networking Coaching Club and that helps tremendously with the online vacuum that can suck you right in! I schedule everything on my Outlook calendar, too. Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly a time-waster, along with the best of them – like going to Target for one thing and browing the entire store, aisle by aisle – or calling a girlfriend to remind her about our date for coffee and talking for 45 minutes about stuff we were going to talk about in person! I think sometimes our minds need to relax especially being a WAHM – so I don’t come down too hard on myself for these dailiences. I’m a Virgo – we are naturally organized, hahahaha!


  6. Rachel Blaufeld
    May 17, 2011 @ 09:44:26

    Fabulous points Brenda! I try every day to be better at time management and create windows for everything that I want to do. I don’t think that it is a matter of whether we have time, but rather a matter of whether we want to do it or not. I am committed to doing everything that I want, but if it feels like an obligation — I am not as committed.
    Thanks for the great insight – we should all enjoy reading a few more books to our kids and a few less updates – Rachel


  7. Louise Edington
    May 17, 2011 @ 15:07:51

    Funny – second ‘wish’ blog I have read this afternoon. ‘I wish I had time for’ really means ‘I haven’t made time for’ – it shows procrastination or finding that thing not important enough. I try not to say it but of course I do – along with the shoulds at times. Thanks for a great post Brenda!
    Louise Edington
    Fearless For Freedom


  8. jonesrandf
    May 17, 2011 @ 17:22:32

    Laurie — I’ve had to ban myself from Target just for that reason. I had set a goal that I’d go three times in a row and only get what was on the list. Still haven’t managed to do that :-/

    Rachel — I’m working on creating windows, but I’m not the best at it. I wonder if anyone feels truly balanced between all of the things they want to do. I remember asking Tori Spelling how she does it because she seems to have it all together (have you seen the snacks she’ll make for her kids’ school?), but she laughed and said she has far from figured out the balance either. I guess my goal is to have the appearance of having it all figured out.


  9. Pat Zahn
    May 17, 2011 @ 22:19:59

    You know, I believe, without exception, that we find the time for the things we want to do. I’m a huge procrastinator – it started when I was young, I can recall a couple of all-night-the-night-before science project marathons and I swore “never again!” Of course, it has repeated itself at various times in my life. Since I know deadlines create action for me, I create them for the things I need to get done but don’t necessarily want to.


  10. Brandy Mychals
    May 18, 2011 @ 04:27:59

    I’ve learned how to focus because I needed to…was a great procrastinator in the past and I definitely prefer to only do what “I want to do”. It helps to be working in a business that I love that allows a lot of creativity. Now I find the time to do the things I want to do…although I don’t always get it right, it is much better!


  11. Rita Brennan Freay
    May 18, 2011 @ 07:51:05

    I am with most of your commenters……I want to do what I want to do and I am a procrastinator at times (depending on how important it is…to me!). I make lists, was trained by the best (my mom) on list making…and hated it at the time but find myself living by it now. I do lose myself online at times…doing more than the 30 min. 2x a day as I learned from the other best in SNCC with Ann Evanston…but its ok…as long as I make it up on the other end….and my work gets done. As a WAHM there’s lot to do and many distractions! It does amaze me that we never forego what we enjoy and want to do….its the other stuff that we aren’t focused on or enjoy that gets put on the back burner. Focus and lists…..do it for me…and even with those I get sucked into SoMe and the internet…..because I allow it to happen…and I’m enjoying it…lol! If it were boring or painful I wouldn’t do it:) Thanks for making us look at ourselves and call attention to our habbits and how it may be affecting us…personally and our businesses!

    Rita Brennan Freay


  12. Debbie Goldberg
    May 19, 2011 @ 11:00:17

    Hi Brenda – Glad you’ve joined us at Blogger Monday! I love how your blog looks – did you know that your twitter feed is not working to the right?

    I loved your phrase – “sometimes we need mindless.” That is so true. I keep a list to help keep me on point. I’ve tried the time tracker – it’s fascinating, but then I ended up not having time to keep track of me! Haha…



    • jonesrandf
      May 19, 2011 @ 11:51:25

      Thank you Debbie! I did notice and then got sidetracked by a child and forgot about it. And now I’m running off so we’re not late for dance, so here’s hoping I remember when we get home, lol. I think I set it up before I changed my twitter name. Took me a while to figure out that’s why it was no longer working on my phone.

      I did the same thing with the tracker… kept forgetting to switch tasks or start/stop the timer. Oops!


  13. Yvonne Elm Hall
    May 19, 2011 @ 11:21:19

    How is it that you got in my head and my life and we’ve never met??? I live what you are saying. But then I am YOU — I too am a WAHM. And since I’m going through SNCC with Louise Edington I often get comments on my facebook updates or reply tweets that totally call me out on those choices that I’m making in stead of doing my SNCC homework and getting through my course as quickly as possible. She knows the reminder is what I need and so do I (that’s part of why she’s an awesome coach!) She knows I have Shiny Object Syndrome.
    As a WAHM of several businesses as well as volunteer positions I often jump on to find out one thing and end up online for hours!!! and then like you said not having made those client follow up phone calls. And I’m often “recreating” my time sheet for my freelance PR invoice by seeing what emails I’ve sent for that position. SO … toggl looks like a great tool and I’m eager to check it out (but not until I get another section of SNCC done;)
    Thanks so much for making me evaluate my choices today while also making me understand that I’m not alone! Gotta meet you soon;)
    Yvonne Hall


    • Louise Edington
      May 19, 2011 @ 11:25:23

      Haha – and I get it cos I have shiny object syndrome too 😉


    • Rita Brennan Freay
      May 19, 2011 @ 11:52:29

      Hehehe and I have to admit Louise’s light hearted comments to you are a reminder to me too (when I see them)…so I am thankful to her (and you) as well!!! She rocks! It is SO easy to get sucked in (just happened to me now…lol!)….gotta run the timer is about to ring!


    • jonesrandf
      May 21, 2011 @ 11:38:26

      So glad we connected on FB and excited that you’re local to me 🙂 I love “Shiny Object Syndrome.” Reminds me of the movie Up and “Squirrel!!” I have that to. I have it when I clean too. Cleaning one room, take something to put it away and end up cleaning that room only to remember later I wasn’t finished with the first. I’ve found Fly Lady Bingo on FB and it keeps me on track since I’m working on specific things for 10-15 minutes. I’ll still catch myself ready to go off task, but can reign myself back in. I need to get better at it with my business as well.


  14. Donna McCord
    May 19, 2011 @ 13:15:25

    This hits home with me for sure! The “I don’t have time” words come out of my mouth just about every day! Wednesdays are my day at home to get caught up on housework, laundry, grocery shopping, gardening, paying bills, plus I have two scheduled appointments every Wednesday, too. Yesterday, when my husband got home from work, I apologized that “I didn’t get to the grocery store today — just didn’t have enough time.” When I look at that more closely, it is not that I couldn’t have done it, I just chose to spend my time doing other things instead. Important things, valuable to me things, but I could have made the choice to go to the grocery store if I had really put it at the top of my priority list! This happens all the time, and it is uncomfortable, but worthwhile, to look at what is really going on when we say “I don’t have enough time…” Thank you for putting into writing what I have actually thought about before but chose not to actually admit!


    • jonesrandf
      May 21, 2011 @ 11:43:37

      I do that with grocery shopping all of the time. It’s not easy with my three-year-old so it’s not at the top of my priority list. Actually most “chores” rank there, which is why they’re considered chores. I try to live life spontaneously and not miss fun opportunities for my daughter since that’s why I’m a stay at home mommy, but I need to get better about picking and choosing so that the other things in life get done, like those items on your Wednesday list. So glad it’s not just me.


  15. Maridel Bowes
    May 19, 2011 @ 13:25:00

    I’ve been having this conversation with myself this week, so happy to continue it with you! I actually realized that I was “not having time” for some of the business of my life, as well as for my work because I would become so engrossed in social media–not even in a frivolous way, but just enjoying the experience of expanding and deepening. So this week, I’ve prioritized differently and though I miss being on social media as much, it feels like I’m beginning to strike a better balance. Next I need to use the timer function on my cell phone and actually see how much time I am spending. I really, really enjoyed this post and your lighthearted way of striking an important chord in all of us.


  16. Robbie Schlosser
    May 20, 2011 @ 19:33:37

    Hi Brenda,

    Thanks for your wonderful article, and welcome to Blogger Monday. Well, here it is late Friday afternoon, and I’m finally commenting on your blog. All week, I just didn’t have time, you know.

    Even before I read your post, I’m stunned by your blog’s background. What a gorgeous display!

    After all these years, I’ve finally managed to discipline myself to get things done on time. For example tardiness used to be a big problem til I posted a sign on my wall: “If you can’t arrive on time, be early!”

    These days my biggest problem is the occasional temptation to kill 30 minutes searching YouTube for videos of Groucho Marx or W.C. Fields. I rationalize this by saying I’ll practice remembering the jokes, to strengthen my memory. Yeah, right.



  17. jonesrandf
    May 21, 2011 @ 11:48:17

    @Maridel — Thank you. I too love being on social media, but need to get better about the amount of time and the quality of the activities.

    @Robbie — Thank you so much. I loved this background as soon as I saw it. I wanted something that matched what I was hoping to create this blog to be. And I love that quote. I’m one of those people who is notoriously early, and much of my family/friends are not. I’m always sure to have a book to read or something to work on as I can usually guarantee I’ll have some extra time. I think it’s ok to kill those 30 minutes occasionally as we all still need mindless activity and fun to stay sane 🙂


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