Instead of Saying “I Don’t Have Time,” Say “It’s Not a Priority”

Have you ever come to the end of the day and felt you didn’t accomplish anything that you intended to, or that your stack of work has gotten even higher than when you started?

Time management is an important skill for any leader.

Have you ever heard the excuse “I don’t have the time”…or have YOU ever used the excuse “I don’t have the time”?

Changing your vocabulary is a step in the right direction.

This is one of those sly ways of trying to make people view you differently or to make it seem as if you are busy or avoid doing things that must get done.

Why didn’t you finish that report/why is it so bad….I didn’t have time.

Why weren’t you able to meet up with your student ministry leaders….I didn’t have time.

Why weren’t you able to construct a better sermon…I didn’t have time.

Why weren’t you able to go to your kids soccer game…I didn’t have time.

Time management is a difficult thing to master, but by changing your language you can identify the areas in your life that you can cut out or recognize the areas that need to receive your attention.

Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels. Often, that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don’t want to. But other things are harder. Try it: “I’m not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it’s not a priority.” “I don’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.” If these phrases don’t sit well, that’s the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently.

Fascinating Wall Street Journal Article on being busy.

If your life is like anyone else in this world attempting to move a project forward, lead a ministry, manage your family or maybe all three….you lead a busy life.

Time is limited, but how we spend it reveals what are the priorities in our life.

Stop lying to those around you and yourself.

There is a solution and its simple.

Solution=Change your vocabulary.

This may not be the end all of solutions, but it is a great place to start.

This however requires HONESTY.

If you are not willing to be honest that you just spent the last two hours on Facebook at work, nothing will change.

If you continue saying to your spouse that she is important but you stay at the office till 2am, nothing will change.

Language is important!  I don’t think I realized how important it was until I moved to a country where I could not communicate with people at the same level I had been doing in America.

We avoid this because we could see it as tactless, or we enjoy looking “busy”.

By honestly assigning our time and accurately depicting our schedule, it allows you and the person your communicating with to have a clear understanding of reality.

By clearly revealing where your priorities are you can adjust your schedule appropriately and begin spending time to make certain people, tasks, and teams your priority.


What benefits can you see that would happen if you changed your vocabulary from “I don’t have time” to “It’s not a priority”?


15 thoughts on “Instead of Saying “I Don’t Have Time,” Say “It’s Not a Priority”

  • You’ve hit on a great pet peeve of mine. So many people say that they don’t have time, but I can guarantee you they would find time if a million dollars were on the line.

    • Loren,
      Thanks for the honesty. Without a doubt people would make time for that and that becomes a great thermometer for where our priorities are.

  • David, great post. I’ve taken out of my vernacular, “I dont have time”. I now say, “I didn’t make the time”. It keeps me accountable for what I do or don’t do, but it also helps me set priorities for the day. God Bless.

    • Juan,
      Great stuff. That change of language you used quickly helps you get a better perspective on how you manage your time. Keep it up, and keep that great stuff coming from your blog! blessings to you too my man.

    • Stephen,
      Thanks for the encouragement man, and I AGREE- def. makes us reconsider how we use those words to some one if in the back of our minds we think of those 2 hours we wasted on twitter 🙂 Thanks for the post on the waffle house Good stuff 🙂

  • I love this idea, David. We all know that we make time for the things that are most important to us, but I don’t think we really ever make the connection with how we actually spend our time. Being honest like this really will show us what our true priorities are right now, and what we need to change in our lives. I’m looking forward to doing this in my own life.

    • Jason,
      Great point man, it quickly reveals “true priorities” and sometimes we don’t always like what we see. Thanks for checking in and I love your blog and your heart for missions! I look forward to reading more 🙂

  • David, I like this post and appreciate the importance of word choice (and thoughts). Words have amazing power and give light. Look at the first words mentioned in the Bible “Let there be light!”. This post is a great reminder for me in the midst of an overwhelming schedule. Thanks!

    • skip!
      Thanks man, I really appreciate it and I think there might be another blog post in there. I think you’re right, it doesn’t get much better than those words that God spoke to create the world. Talk about powerful words 🙂

  • I have found a person takes time to do the things they value and want to do. If you really want a new job then they take the time to do the things that will allow them to get one. For many years I have have focus on the most important areas of my life. When I need to tell others I can’t do something I make sure they know my areas of focus. Great reminder and post.

    • Dan,
      I can imagine that you are a busy man keeping up with all the blogs you are connected to as well as consistently putting out great content on yours as well as a family, church leadership, and I am sure many other responsibilities. Great point on letting people know why you are saying no rather than them speculating or feeling hurt about being turned down. thanks dan!

  • Our actions certainly do speak volumes don’t they? Words are cheap, our actions define our priorities as you stated. I reposted once this week and have quite a bit lately, I’ve done that not just because I’m busy, but because I told my wife that I would. It shows her in action that she and my family is the priority.

    To be honest, I’m one of those people who always seem to bite off more than they can chew and never stop until I’ve finished whatever it was that I endeavored to do. This is a needed reminder for me. Thanks David.

    • Floyd,
      I love that. I think that would qualify as a great reason to repost 🙂 Keep prioritizing her and being that man of God. look forward to seeing more great reposts in the near future!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: