Why you never have time to do anything

27th June 2017

“I don’t have time.”

Perhaps the most common sentence in business.

But here’s a thought for you:

       Time is never about time. It is about priority.

For example, I’ve heard people say things like “we moved house six months ago. We haven’t had time to unpack all our removal crates yet. But I did play Call Of Duty for six hours this weekend.”

You see? There’s always time … for the things you prioritise.

And what do you prioritise?

Well, for most people, they prioritise the stuff in their diary. After all, if it’s in the diary, you do it. If it isn’t, you don’t.

So, these three words are inextricably linked:

  1. Time
  2. Priority
  3. Diary

And now for the depressing bit: sometimes, the things in our diary aren’t the things we want to be prioritising.

For example, you might want to visit an important customer. But you can’t because your diary is full of tedious internal meetings. And if someone asks you why you aren’t visiting customers, you’d reply “I don’t have time.”

But that’s not true. You do have time. But your diary (ok, you) chose to spend it doing something else.

So, to free-up lots of time, do this instead – ‘START’ and ‘STOP’:


  • Identify your priorities – as in, the things you want/need to do. Like, visiting customers, chatting with your team, completing that report you’ve been writing for weeks, meeting your boss, planning for meetings, following-up meetings …
  • Put these in your diary
  • For the things you should keep doing – like, seeing your team every week – set-up recurring weekly diary entries, so you keep doing them


  • Identify the things currently in your diary that aren’t a priority – pointless meetings, preparing reports that nobody reads…
  • Stop doing them – decline meetings etc
  • Or if you can’t stop them, at least reduce something – don’t go to every meeting, only go to the first half – anything that reduces it in your diary

In many ways, this time-priority-diary link is one of the most life-enriching things I ever learned.

Because it made me realise my diary is my fault. If it’s full of interesting stuff, that’s my fault. If it’s full of rubbish, that’s my fault too.

And guess what: once I realised this, I started changing my Diary Habits. And I started getting loads more done. And so, too, do my customers.

What about you?

Well, that’ll depend if freeing-up time is a priority for you. And, if it is…

Action point

… Book-out some time in your diary called “give myself more time.”

Then, during it, do the START and STOP

  • Identify what you should be doing instead; and get them in the diary
  • Find things you shouldn’t be doing, and remove/reduce them from your diary

Similarly, if you want to improve your communication skills, diarise some time called “improve my communication skills”. During it, identify ways you can transform your impact. A helpful resource for you would be my online video club – 143 short videos explaining how to master different aspects of communication. The left hand column on this link shows you what they’ll help you master…

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