I was talking with one of my clients the other day, and as I asked how he was doing, he replied with an ironic smile, “Never enough time, Patrick.”
“Never enough time.” This cliché rolls off the tongue too quickly when we describe the state of overwhelm.
But what we say matters. What we say can often condition our thinking, our mindset, even our self-image. We need to be careful. Clichés can become the furniture of our thinking.
Is the problem really not enough time?
Let’s reframe this. Look at it as a supply and demand problem. We have 24 hours in a day. Nothing will change that. Supply is fixed.
Which one of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 6:27)
Of course, we could race through that 24 hours faster. We could cover more ground. We like to call that productivity.
Sure, we could do that. And probably we could remove a lot of pauses along the way. But we are likely to get diminishing returns the harder we work. Also, in a state of chronic urgency, we can make sacrifices we later regret; that is, if we live that long.
No, fundamentally it is a demand problem. We find ourselves accepting too many commitments into our day, our week, our month, our lives. We over-commit. We don’t want to make choices about our purpose, our priority. We don’t want to place boundaries around our time.
What about reducing that demand?
Well, that would take courage. That would mean making some choices, saying some powerful no’s to people we want to please. It would mean admitting that we have been more driven than free.
It’s easier to keep saying, “I never have enough time” and hope that things will get better.
Meanwhile, some of us are finding freedom in our daily lives. We make hard choices. We are prepared to say no to people we would otherwise like to please.
And we find it’s worth it.
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