“Having enough time” begins with knowing when to say when
“I don’t have enough time to get everything done!” As someone who has taught in universities, supervised teams, organized events, and parented a teenager, I have heard this too many times to count. Full disclosure, I have used those words myself.
But “not enough time” is really not the problem. The real issue is unrealistic expectations. Unrealistic expectations are the termites to an effective schedule and productive life.
Unrealistic expectations begin little lies that get embedded in our thinking. They seem harmless enough, but they impact our capacity to filter out what’s clogging up our productivity. More seriously, these unrealistic expectations impact what we believe about ourselves in profound ways. Let’s talk about the lies that can lock you into a cycle of frenetic madness – and the unrealistic expectation of each lie upon your life.
1. I can’t say “no.” If someone asks you to do something, whether it’s a small errand or a huge project, do you agree because you struggle with telling someone “no”?
Unrealistic expectation: The “yes” that is right in front of me is more important than anything else in the universe for this moment, so I am saying “no” to everything else in the universe for this moment because it is what is in front of me.
Truth: Your struggle is not saying “no,” but rather in saying “no” to the wrong thing(s) for that specific moment.
2. People should be able to reach me anytime. If your phone rings, do you automatically answer it, no matter what you’re doing or what time it is? Can you intentionally let it go to voicemail when you are in the middle of something focused? How quickly do you open an email or IM when you hear a notification?
Unrealistic expectation: Anything others want from me is more important than my planned use of this moment.
Truth: Unless the nature of your job requires you to answer the phone or message above all other priorities, others do not choose when you respond to a call, IM, or email. You do. Forfeiting that right to others blurs an important boundary.
3. I don’t want to be a burden. Are you trying to do all the heavy lifting in your life without any meaningful help? Do you assume others (including family members) can’t or won’t step up to help if you share your need?
Unrealistic expectation: I am the helper/fixer – I am not the one who asks for help. I am only being responsible if I do everything myself.
Truth: You are wired for community. If you are not allowing and even asking others to help you carry weight in key areas of your life, you are doing too much.
4. I have to be involved in all these things. If others expect you to be involved in something, do you always assume you must be directly involved? If something is important or meaningful to someone you care about, does this mean you must add it to your priorities – even if your plate is already overflowing?
Unrealistic expectation: I’ll let others down if I don’t do everything that’s important to them, no matter how much I’m already doing. Things that are important to me don’t compete with things that are important to others.
Truth: Things can be important without you needing to be the one who does them. You can show that you value to what’s important to others by helping them brainstorm for other ways to get it done.
Delegate. Ask for help. Your own capacity, needs, and priorities have as much value as those of others. When everyone is being honest, collaborative, and intentional about what they can do, there will be enough time to do every important thing.
Stay tuned next week to read Part 2!
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