Organizational Effectiveness: “I Don’t Have Time to …”
168 is an important and immutable number. It’s one that we all share, the number of hours in a week. No one gets more, no one gets less. (Unless it’s your last week on earth or you were born on a Tuesday.)
Most of you can, in great measure, control part if not most of your day. Even if you work 10-hour days, that leaves 14 hours to maneuver. Yes, you need to sleep and eat, but even that can be moved to some degree. The fact is that most of what we do is by choice, so when we say, “I don’t have time to …” what we are really saying is, “I don’t choose to.” Many reading this are in leadership roles that allow much flexibility. More, perhaps, than you are using.
I don’t choose to squander time on Facebook, play pickleball or write poetry. I have little interest in any of those (though I hear pickleball is a blast!). I don’t say, “I don’t have time to write poetry.”
Most of us, however, sometimes say, “I don’t have time to cook, exercise, read, study, play with my kids, have one-on-ones with my employees, build a budget, develop and write down a clear strategy, or think about the future.” Stuff like that. Things that we are pretty sure we should do but have not allocated time to do. Things we feel guilty about.
I run into this with most everyone I coach. And my response is, “Yes you do, you’ve just chosen not to.” I don’t mean to be obnoxious, but I do mean to be direct and to ask them to see it for what it is. It is a choice.
Some of the busiest people I know exercise. Some of them cook. Some of the busiest leaders I know rarely miss a one-on-one with their teammates. They find time to read and think. To do so, they say “No” to many other things.
My clients often find it liberating to start to think this way. The ones who embrace this rarely kid themselves anymore by saying “I don’t have time to…”, they just acknowledge that they don’t value it and are not going to do it.
I’ve met (and was one myself for many years) lots of executives that believe that they “must” work 60- or 70-hour weeks. After decades of observing this, I realize that much of this time doesn’t add much value and that they should go home and play with their kids.
Stop kidding yourself about what you don’t have time to do. Your teammates would benefit from a one-on-one, your kids would like to play with you, and you’ll live longer if you get to the gym.
What different choices do you need to make?
coaches CEOs to higher levels of success. He is a former CEO and has led teams as large as 7,000 people. Todd is the author of, Never Kick a Cow Chip On A Hot Day: Real Lessons for Real CEOs and Those Who Want To Be (Morgan James Publishing).