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The I Don't Have Time Illusion

Updated on July 1, 2016

If your favorite phrase is ‘I don’t have time’, you are not alone. This is the single phrase that is the most common favorite phrase of millions all over the globe.

So the good news is, you are not alone.

Here is the bad news, you don’t know where your time is going. Yes, if you work 60 hours a week and you don’t have time for anything else – even on weekends – this means a large portion of your time is missing.

Let’s do some mathematics.

Number of hours in a week: 168

Number of hours you work: 60

Number of hours you are left with: 108

Number of hours you sleep in a week (assuming you sleep 8 hours a day): 56

Missing hours: 52

So you have 52 hours every week that you have no idea of how and where you spend them.

We have a mystery here.

The Problem

In reality, when you say I don’t have time, it means it is not on your priority list. We have this habit of replacing ‘it is not a priority’ with ‘I don’t have time’. This is where things get tough.

Idea is to stop saying I don’t have time and it will change your perspective. Instead, you should say, it is not a priority.

But just replacing the phrase won’t help much unless you do something practical to get out of this illusion.


Prepare a Time Log

One of the easiest ways to get rid of this illusion is to track your time. Just as you track food when you are on a diet, you should track every single minute of your day.

This is easy.

Plan your day. Use a calendar, a diary, an app (like Evernote) or your email to take notes. Set reminders that prompt you what you have to do and when exactly you have to do it.

There are two ways to plan your day and to be more productive with 168 hours every week.

  1. Plan your next day before going to the bed. When you go to bed, spare half an hour and list down all the important things that you have to do the following day. Take notes and set reminders.
  2. Plan your day every morning before starting your day. As soon as you wake up, plan your entire day.

Change Your Perspective

While tracking time is a good idea but it won’t work effectively unless you change your perspective. Instead of assuming that you are too busy throughout the day, shift your focus towards setting priorities and being productive.

Avoid saying I don’t have time.

This is a bit hard to do because you have to excuse people, friends, and colleagues by simply telling them that it is not a priority.

“I cannot go to the gym today because it is not a priority.”

“I cannot watch the movie as it is not my priority.”

Whenever it is not a priority doesn’t fit well, you need to think and decide.

“I will not take you to dinner today Honey because it is not a priority.”


We all get the same 168 hours every week yet there are people who do wonders while there are others who hardly make it to their desk every morning.

You now know the reality, don’t you?


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