One of the most common comments I hear in coaching conversations is “I don’t have time” or “when I get time”. We’ve all said it at some point. It’s a habit. It’s easy to convince ourselves it’s about time we don’t have.
I’ve been pondering this all week. What if it’s more about your choice of priorities and focus? Time isn’t in control of your choices. You are in charge of how you use your time. So in a way it’s about ownership of what you say is important to you. It’s about how much effort and focus you put into what’s going to make the difference. You know that in a crisis you make time for what’s most important. You’ll say you don’t have any other choice. Yet you do, its just that the context for taking action has changed. So what if, rather than say you don’t have time, you pause to contemplate the context in which you’re making that statement. Often it’s that you are caught up in the day to day rush of doing, doing, doing, the immediate tasks.
I’ve spoken with two clients in the past week who could see the longer-term benefits of investing effort in improving the systems they work with. One is even sitting with the knowledge that their computer system (in which they’ve invested considerably) has many functions that they aren’t yet using. If only, he said, we had time to work out what it could do for us. It’s so easy to fool ourselves into thinking the immediate tasks keep us from investing effort in longer-term improvements and changes. I spoke to another client who estimated that it would take him only 30 minutes to make a change to a work process that over time could save hours of inefficiency and emotional frustration to boot. In both cases, we coached through the mindset shifts and the next layers of conversation needed to create the changes that would pay off in the longer term. It really was only about how they were looking at their situation.
One of my own examples was when working on my last book, I kept saying to my editor that I hadn’t made time to create the list of references and sources. I’d made up in my head that it would take me ages. It will take you 20 minutes Aileen, he said, if you just sit down and do it. In fact it took me 12 minutes to write it up. I laughed at how much effort I’d been wasting making up the excuses for why I wasn’t getting it done. I learned from this. My new book has taken me less than three months to get to draft manuscript – compared with three years for my last one! I feel so much better about it too.
It reminded me of the old video from Steven Covey on how the big rocks in life are the most important ones to make time for (to remind yourself it’s here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zV3gMTOEWt8).
Your turn: What idea, intention or possible change are you quietly aware would make a big difference to your life or work in the longer term, yet you keep telling yourself or your team there’s not enough time for it? What will it take to make it happen? What if you’re only focus was that one thing? I know from experience that it will take much less time than you think it will – yet the pay off will give you more time and energy for weeks or months – maybe years – to come. #Live Fully #Lead Boldly