The REAL reason you don’t have enough time

Time Management - The REAL Reason you don't have enough timeOne of the things I hear a lot from people is that they feel that they don’t have enough time to get everything done.

They often feel that they are running to stand still. This often results in feeling stuck, frustrated and overwhelmed. 

There are many things that can contribute to this. Things such as procrastination, ineffective planning, lack of focus, mindset, habits, low personal effectiveness skills, and so on

But what I have noticed is that one of the biggest contributing factors to that feeling of not having enough time to get everything done is this:

People are trying to do more than is possible in the time they have.

It is not uncommon for people to be trying to work, be a domestic goddess, nurture relationships, volunteer for numerous clubs and boards, say yes to things even when they are already over busy, take on additional work and personal projects – the list goes on.

That is like trying to do more than one full time job each and every day.

So here is what I would like to suggest.

STOP. Yes, stop. I know this can feel impossible as I often hear “I don’t have time to stop”. But really, give yourself permission to stop, take a step back and take stock.

Ask yourself “Is my perceived lack of time the result of trying to do more each day than is possible or reasonable?”

Because here is the reality – often all those feelings of frustration, overwhelm and failure don’t come from not having enough time. They come from placing unrealistic expectations on ourselves of what we can physically fit into each day.

Try this experiment.

Get a piece of paper and make out a timetable like you used to have at school. Days across the top and hourly slots down the side. Fill in for next week all your priority stuff giving them set time slots. ALWAYS put your most important stuff in first.

Now, if you are trying to stuff more in than your timetable is showing you is realistic, you can see where you are actually creating that “I don’t have enough time” syndrome yourself. Run this experiment ongoing. It will help you to stop overscheduling and placing unrealistic expectations on yourself.

What strategies do you have for not overscheduling yourself?  Or do you regularly overschedule yourself? Please share your experiences and views below.

Related posts:

The Problem with Time Management

3 Myths of Multi Tasking

Are You Trying to be a Superhero?


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  • http://www.giveabrick.com/ Eleanor Edwards

    I love the idea of the time table Ali. Very practical :) What you say about expecting ourselves to do several full time jobs is right. I sometimes wonder if time might be better managed by setting official work hours. But then that takes away the joy of flexibility so your more fluid but still structured timetable comes into it's own. I like :)

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    Eleanor, glad you like the timetable idea. It is very effective. The timetable can be used without having to set official hours. The hours can be different from week to week or even day to day. My working hours are quite fluid. I adapt the timetable to keep me foucssed on what I can realistically do in the hours I have assigned. Also, by putting the most important things in first, it means they are always protected. Thanks for dropping by.

  • http://www.giveabrick.com/ Eleanor Edwards

    Fluid sounds good to me. I work around my husbands shifts which are very erratic but I've just asked him to print me out a copy of his rota when he gets back on Sunday so I can start to put plans in place 😉

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    Eleanor, that sounds like a great idea. I think the thing with all these tools is to take them and adapt them into something that works for you and your situation. Sounds like creating a “fluid timetable” could be the key for your situation. Have fun playing with it.

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    Eleanor, that sounds like a great idea. I think the thing with all these tools is to take them and adapt them into something that works for you and your situation. Sounds like creating a “fluid timetable” could be the key for your situation. Have fun playing with it.

  • Lisasam

    I have realized recently that I often create a work list that is impossible to complete in the allotted time and then I push myself and am disappointed when I don't complete it or frazzles when I do. I am working on easing back my lists and creating more time to focus on each task.
    Lisa
    http://www.singleparentsavings.wordpress.com

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    Hi Lisa, it is great that you made that realisation. Awareness is the first step to makiing change. The approach you are taking is more likely to lead to greater productivity and less feelings of being frazzled. Hope yuor new approach goes well for you.

  • http://designresumes.com/ juliewalraven

    Thanks for the post, Ali and for your commentors comments… I am working on scheduling in downtime now. Since I often work 15 – 17 hour days, I am now telling people who are friends just to give me notice and I will schedule a visit or lunch in. I can write anytime for the remote projects and there are more of those every day. I don't know that I overschedule as much as I overwrite my list. Fear of forgetting something makes me list much more than I can possibly do in a day even if I never leave here. I'll think on it…

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    Wow Julie, that is a lot of hours every day. Have you tried the school timetable experiment mentioned in the post? Really helps with what you are talking about here. Also, setting how many hours you would ideally like to work a day and a date you would like to achieve that by would help focus the mind on making that happen.
    Sounds like the fear you mentioned is driving your working hours. Something that might be helpful is rather than just having a long list, is schedule them into your diary like appointments on set days. That way, you won't be fearful it will be forgotten and it will reduce the daily overload.
    Appreciate you sharing your situation here. Hope you are able to reduce your hours soon.

  • http://designresumes.com/ juliewalraven

    Actually, Ali, I do use Outlook which works like that and I do use it for appointments and clients but I don't schedule in “my time” or really even writing time. I do love my work though and it is so multi-faceted, writing posts, other writing assignments, and then of course client projects. I have been playing the yard much lately between rain storms, though that is most likely on weekends. The reason I dropped the non-profit contracts like Wausau Whitewater was the lack of time.

    You are probably right that I am way overscheduling and should transfer out items for the future… prioritize the urgencies and Importants, but at the time I write the lists, it always seems more doable… Thanks for the thoughts… I am a work in progress.

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    Julie, your comment about being a work in progress is so important. We are all a work in progress and it is important to remember this and not to fall into the trap of beating ourselves up if we (or things) are less than ideal.

  • cheshiremum

    I am going to give the timetable a go – I keep my Monday morning's free to make a plan and prioritise but Baby G is still very little, 8.5mths and her morning nap time is getting shorter so I know I need to make a better childcare plan. Not sure whether we are brave enough for both Mr L and I to go self-employed til next year!

  • Ali Davies

    Hi Claire, planning is so important to success. Good luck with yours while your little one is changing. Do let me know how the timetble goes for you. Thanks for dropping by.

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    Hi Claire, planning is so important to success. Good luck with yours while your little one is changing. Do let me know how the timetble goes for you. Thanks for dropping by.

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    Hi Claire, planning is so important to success. Good luck with yours while your little one is changing. Do let me know how the timetble goes for you. Thanks for dropping by.

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  • Haralee

    Without small children or school age children,I think grouping time segments is workable. I don’t over schedule because I know things always take longer than expected so I a lot more time per activity or event.

  • http://smartliving365.com/ Kathy @ SMART LIving 365.com

    Hi Ali! I so agree that many people (like my husband) tend to overcommit their time and end over-scheduling themselves. I actually am pretty good at time management because I am a good planner. About the only time I get into trouble is when I say yes to someone when I should have said no. Your suggestion to always give priority to important stuff is VERY GOOD. Thanks for the reminders! ~Kathy

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    I think that is so common – saying yes when it would have been better to say no. But it is possible to great some effective ways of dealing with that in place proactively to reduce those times.