We HAVE the Time… We Just Don’t MAKE it

posted by Andrea | 08/5/2014

we have the time

One of my weird pet peeves is when people complain about not ‘having’ enough time for various activities and obligations.

For example:

I don’t HAVE enough time to keep my house clean.

I don’t HAVE enough time to exercise or eat right.

I don’t HAVE enough time to meal plan and stock my freezer.

I don’t HAVE enough time to use coupons.

I don’t HAVE enough time to read, or craft, or sew, or scrapbook.

I don’t HAVE enough time to hang out with friends and family.

I don’t HAVE enough time to _______________ (you fill in the blank).

I realize that because of my personality and my profession, the use of the word “have” in these situations is probably more annoying to me than to most people — in fact, some of you might be reading this and wondering why on earth I could possibly be annoyed with any of the statements above, or the use of the word “have”.

Here’s why:

Every single person on earth has the exact same amount of time every single day. We ALL get 24 hours to do whatever we need and want to do each day.

What we make of that time is up to US.

When we feel like we don’t HAVE time for something, it’s almost always because we have not chosen to MAKE the time to do it.

24 hours

Now before you start saying “but….” let me explain a little more :)

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We are all busy. I know that.

Dave and I are very busy people, and I know many of you are much busier than we are. However, just looking back on my busy life and Dave’s busy life, I can confidently say that in almost every situation, WE have some say over what we do and do not make time for.

We can decide if we want to make time for another house project or if it’s just too stressful and we’d rather wait until later.

We can decide if we want to make time for keeping the house clean or if we’d rather work on a hobby, go out with friends, or take a nap.

We can decide if we want to make more time for sleeping or get a little less sleep and make more time for working, hobbies, house projects, or whatever.

I can choose to make more time to grow my blog and build my social media presence, or just let it “coast” for a few months while I make more time for family and fun.

I can also choose to send my kids to daycare which would make A LOT more time for me to get stuff done around the house.

We can choose to make more time for family and friends, or stay home and make more time for house work, house projects, working, or just spending time with our own family.

We can make time to get involved in lots of church, school, and community activities, or we could decide that it’s just not worth it with little kids and make time for more fun at home.

We can choose to make time for cooking from scratch or we can choose to go out to eat in order to make time for other activities.

We can make time for fun vacations or choose to use that time (and money) for home projects, to start a new hobby, grow a business, etc.

Even when it come’s to Dave’s school schedule (which doesn’t offer time off outside of normal school breaks) he still has some say over what he will and will not make time for. If there is a very important activity happening during a school day, he can decide if he wants to make sub plans and hire a sub or if it’s just not worth the hassle so he’d rather skip the event.

I could go on and on — but I think you get the idea.

priorities

Every day, we make hundreds of decisions as to what we will and will not make time for.

We will all make different decisions at different times and in different seasons of life. The difference is not bad — it’s just priorities.

Dave and I usually prefer to stay home, get the kids in bed early, and make time to finish up a house project and catch up on work, while one of my sisters and her husband (no kids) will almost always prefer to go out with friends. Before kids, Dave and I probably would have gone out — but now, with kids, it’s easier to stay in.

Dave and I prefer to make more time for our kids and less time for church and community activities — while other families we know (with older kids) are SUPER involved with church and community — and that’s also how they spend their time together as a family.

I make time to keep my house clean and the laundry under control, but that means I’m choosing not to make time for something else.

Dave makes time to go running at night, but that means he’s not making time for another activity he might also enjoy.

Yes, there are days when my to-do list goes mostly undone, but that’s usually because Simon was extra fussy, Nora needed more attention, or I was just too tired. I made the decision to ignore my do-to list — knowing full well that it would mean more work for me later in the week.

Yes, there are times when I would love do something, but it just doesn’t work out because it’s not worth it for me to make the time. Maybe it conflicts with something else I was already committed to doing, maybe I can’t find childcare, maybe it costs too much money, or maybe I’m just too tired to do one more thing. Whatever the reason, I still have the ability to MAKE that choice — it’s not being forced upon me.

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Whenever I start thinking “I don’t HAVE time for ______” I try to stop and think about any way that I could MAKE time for it.

Could I move my schedule around?

Could I find someone to watch our kids?

Could I skip something else to free up more time?

If not, then I choose not to make time for that activity.

Thinking this way makes me feel less frustrated and more empowered.

It changes my outlook on my day from feeling busy and stressed to instead, feeling happy and thankful that I am able to make choices as to how I spend my time.

Maybe it’s not the choice I would have made 3 years ago, or last week, or tomorrow, or in 6 months, but it’s the choice I’m making today based on everything else going on in my life at that moment.

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So the next time you’re feeling frustrated that you don’t HAVE enough time for everything on your to-do list, stop and think about different ways you might be able to MAKE the time.

If you decide you can’t MAKE the time, those projects might not be very important to you and you might benefit from dropping the tasks completely (ask me how I know!)

What are you choosing to MAKE time for?

photo source 1, 2, 3

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34 comments

  1. Jennifer

    08/05/2014

    I notice for myself that when I reach the point of saying, ‘I could make time for this, do I want to?’, that’s when I realise where my priorities actually lie, because now I have to make a decision. When I’m stuck in a rut of moaning, ‘I just don’t have time’, it’s a way of avoiding the decision and it actually avoids a real confrontation with what I want to spend my time on.

    As you say, sometimes when I sit down to decide what to make time for, I realise that some of the things on my ‘wish list’ are actually things I don’t value that much in comparison with other things. Like – I wish I could reorganise under the bed, but in fact it’s not that big a deal in comparison with other jobs. Not that I wouldn’t want to do it if I could, but compared to other projects I honestly don’t care that much about it. It doesn’t deserve any ‘prime time’ in my day – it’s a spare-time kind of project. But if all I did was moan about how much time I didn’t ‘have’, I’d never reach the point of admitting this. So I think that seeing our time as something we control also brings a degree of clarity about what we actually value, which is a useful and healthy thing.

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  2. Jennifer

    08/05/2014

    My standard question to myself, whenever my life feels out of control (which is about 99.9% of the time) is “What is the best use of my time RIGHT NOW?” Sometimes the best use of my time is loading the dishwasher because that gives me a sense of accomplishment. Sometimes the best use of my time is to take a nap because nurturing myself is critical at that point. I find that when I ask myself that question and answer it honestly, I am rarely disappointed in the outcome.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, I would agree with you — with the questions and the fact that I’m rarely disappointed in the outcome IF I’m honest with answering those questions!

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  3. Tonya

    08/05/2014

    Andrea, thank you so much for this post! It could not come at a better time. As a Mom to two boys (5 & 2) and working full time, I often feel pulled in many directions. Sometimes we do just need to look to make time for what is important now. Thanks again!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Tonya! You sound very busy — but also like you are making time for everything that’s important (which can seem like such a challenge some times!)

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  4. ShellyL

    08/05/2014

    Great article. I definitely need to take some of this advice. Patiently waiting on the mudroom post. :)

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Shelly,
    The mudroom post should be coming next week. It’s been “almost” finished for weeks now and we were just waiting for one piece of the puzzle (which should be arriving tomorrow)!

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  5. Liz

    08/05/2014

    The same rule can be applied to money.

    You have to decide what your priority is first….then figure out a way to make it possible.

    In our family, we decided education was a priority. For us that meant sending our daughter to private school instead of the failing local public school. Lots of our friends said they wish they could afford to do the same. They could. They choose not to. And because we do, we have to cut money in other non-priority areas…like going out to eat, fancy vacations, designer clothes and a new car every couple years.

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    Andrea Reply:

    YES YES YES! Thanks Liz. I was so close to mentioning this at the end of the post — but then I thought it was too much for one post. The whole “I can’t afford that” thing is an entirely different post that may or may not ever be written :)

    Obviously, we all have different income levels, but as someone who hardly made any money for the first 3+ years in her own business with a Christian School Teacher husband — I know that it is possible to “afford” a lot of things with not a lot of money (and not going into debt)!

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    lydia @ five4fivemeals Reply:

    I hear that a lot about being a SAHM (I actually own a small business so it’s the best of both worlds). However, we don’t do any of the things you mentioned and I am not sure we could still afford to send our kids to the pricey private school in our area.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for your thoughts Lydia!
    I understand where you are coming from, and have a feeling many readers would relate to your comment too. I think what Liz is trying to say (at least what I’m hearing) is that if you felt strongly enough that your children absolutely needed to attend the private school in your area (or felt strongly about any monetary expense), you could most likely figure out a way to swing it — even if that meant taking drastic measures like selling your home to live in a tiny apartment or motorhome.

    Obviously, selling your home might not be the best decision for your family :) but if that financial decision was that important to you, there is usually a way to make it work.

    And honestly, I think my parents would have sold their house if they needed the money to send us to a Christian school… it was just THAT important to them. Thankfully, they didn’t need to do that, but they did make a lot of sacrifices to give us a Christian education.

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    Luba Rokpelnis Reply:

    Andrea, I totally agree with you. When I started attending a Christian school, my family had moved to the US three years ago and literally started over (we brought zero money with us). It was important enough for my parents that we did without new cars, vacations, going out to eat (even fast food), and many other things some people consider “necessities.” Oh, and four years after living in the US, they also bought a house. :)

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  6. Laura

    08/05/2014

    I think my problem is, I don’t have time to do it all. I would like to do it all, but it is not possible to do it all. Oh well tomorrow I get another 24 hours to try to do it all and have it all:)

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    Andrea Reply:

    Hey Laura — don’t beat yourself up. It’s literally impossible to “do it all”. I think the important thing for ME to realize is that I can usually do all of what is important for me right now. For example, Dave and my priorities are family, work (school and blogging) and house projects.

    This might sound awful to some people but we don’t do vacations, we don’t do many extra church or community activities right now, and we don’t see our friends nearly as often as we used to. We know that we can’t have it all, all the time — but with careful planning and being honest about our current priorities, we can have all of what is important to us right now.

    Does that make sense?

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  7. Summer

    08/05/2014

    I totally agree Liz! And Andrea!

    We all HAVE time and money for what we choose! We all make choices based on our priorities and our goals, personalities and our lifestyles. If you make 25k a year and have a cell phone, cable tv, internet and a new car, etc, likely you are overspending on your budget. People have such unrealistic views of their OWN lives! If people would look at their OWN budget and time allotments, instead of their neighbors, their friends, the media, etc — they WOULD make choices for their own lives.

    It grinds me too to listen to ‘I don’t have time or money for…” We have a very restrictive budget and the same with our free time. We choose how we spend both very carefully. It’s called proactively planning over reacting. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

    Awesome post Andrea, as usual! And that felt great to vent! LOL

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  8. Raquel

    08/05/2014

    This..THIS. Love it. I often feel this way. I am on a weight loss journey and people ask me about finding time to workout and I always say I make it a priority. There are times (either early in the morning or late at night) when I can always get it in at home even if I cannot make it to the gym. It’s that important to me and I also need to workout for my health. I think a lot of things we claim we don’t have the time to do, we really don’t want to do such as working out, home cooking, cleaning, etc. We use lack of time as an excuse.

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  9. Verity

    08/05/2014

    With both time and money, I try to express this concept to my kids.

    With Money: When they ask for an item at the store, I NEVER say “We don’t have money for this.” I instead say, “We are going to buy something else” or “We don’t need this”or “this is not a good price.

    With Time: I tell them we are choosing to do something else today instead of _____.

    In either area – the concept is the same. We are not victims. We make our own choices.

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  10. Melissa

    08/05/2014

    Thanks for a very timely reminder.

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  11. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    08/05/2014

    I agree, Andrea. I don’t think that taking responsibility for things like our time, our money, our mistakes, our bad habits, etc. is very popular in this day and age. You are absolutely, right, however. We all have the same amount of time in the day. No matter how busy we are, we still have some choice over how we will spend what extra time we do have. It is a matter of prioritizing what is important to us at the time. Great reminder that we need to use it wisely!

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  12. Eveline

    08/05/2014

    I. totaly. agree! Nothing more to say about it… as we say here in the Netherlands: je slaat de spijker op de kop! (hitting the nail in the head)
    Best regards!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha – we say the same thing here (in English!)

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  13. Andrea

    08/05/2014

    The only one I would add, though perceived as unkind to some perhaps, is “I/we just don’t want to!”; even if free time, money and energy are available all at the same time. :)

    Excellent post. I love that you tell it exactly as it is!

    Keep up these good truth-telling posts!

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  14. Roxanne

    08/05/2014

    There are days I feel overwhelmed at trying to figure out what needs to be accomplished for the day. Anyone peeking into my life, probably would wonder what in the world I had to be overwhelmed about . You have given me ( once again ) something to think about. Tomorrow I will look at my “needs to be accomplished list” differently. The choice is mine on how I choose to use my time.

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  15. Katherine

    08/05/2014

    Have you heard of or read “168 Hours” by Laura Vanderkam? I loved it, and it really drives home this point.

    After reading the book I did a time log (an exercise in the book) for three days, tracking how I spent all of my time. Pretty eye-opening! Things that I thought took soooo long (because of how emotionally and physically tiring they are) were actually minimal in terms of time. It was a fascinating exercise and I really loved the book for pushing me to consider where my time goes every day.

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    Andrea Reply:

    no, I have not heard of this book but it sounds fascinating! I’ll have to look it up at the library!

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  16. Debby

    08/05/2014

    I have a friend that ask me all the time how I have time to do all the projects that I do and follow several of my favorite blogs(insert your blog here Andrea :-) ) Yet I work full time, have two busy teenage daughters, and just finished a major kitchen reno. It’s all about time management. One of my favorite sayings is “You can have it all, just not all at once.” It’s all about priorities at different times of your life.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I have LOTS of people who ask me those questions all the time… either that or they’ll say something like, “well you only have 2 kids and your husband is home all summer” or “I choose to spend quality time with my family over cleaning the house”

    It doesn’t bother me too much when they say those things because I know they just have different priorities — however I don’t like that they imply I might not be spending quality time with my family :)

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    Jennifer Reply:

    In response to those “quality time” comments you get, it’s also a question of what makes the time “quality time”. I am not a great housekeeper and don’t get too wrapped up in cleaning, but at the same time I can’t enjoy time playing with my son on a dirty floor; I can’t enjoy a meal or playing a game with my family at a cluttered or dirty table or in such surroundings. So, I clean. I clean to make our home and time together more comfortable, enjoyable and relaxing. My 2 1/2 yr old follows me around with his own little sweeper and dust pan or water spray bottle and a rag and we laugh, dance to music, and have fun cleaning. We spend a little quality time making our home more conducive to greater quality time–hope that makes sense in the way that I want it to. Also, cleaning doesn’t have to take that much time. I think a lot of people don’t want to do it and use the time excuse. I don’t want to do it, but I want it done, so I do it as quickly as I can and try to make it fun.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes exactly Jennifer! I definitely agree with your “quality time” thoughts. there are lots of things I don’t necessarily love doing, but I do them anyway because they make the rest of our home and life run smoother and be more enjoyable.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  17. Rosie

    08/06/2014

    This is so true! I really loved this post. I work full time and so does my husband. People say to me all the time, ” I don’t know how you do it all, keep the house clean and cook from scratch meals all the time”. It’s called planning and prepping ahead. I plan out our weekly meals and in the summer, we use the grill and the broiler to get our dinners on the table in about 20-30 minutes. We also put loads of clothes in at night, run the dryer in the morning ,and pick up after ourselves and clean the kitchen right away. For the things I don’t do: We get a local high school kid to mow the lawn, someone comes to deep clean my floors and bathrooms once a month (we do the upkeep) – outdoor work is not crucial and we hate doing it! I’d rather spend my time cooking and quality time at night with my husband. Chores get fit in (clean up occurs right after dinner), we will go for a walk, and we also hate DIY home projects (we’d rather save up and buy something we love with a coupon. Our priorities right now are healthful food from scratch (think grilled veggies and some form of meat,), quality time with family and friends, and a strong marriage. We have also limited church activities and travel right now because of how busy we are. We got a planner out earlier this summer, wrote down what was important, then selected dates to make it happen, and so far, it has! We’ve been able to do a lot more when we write it down, and plan ahead. Thank you for this post! Same applies to money too.

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  18. Elise @frugalfarmwife.com

    08/06/2014

    This is a great reminder of something I think we all know, but often forget.

    I very clearly remember the day I figured out that I had the same block of time as everyone else in the world, and that I could either continue in my never ending quest to have a spotless house, or give it up, and actually do something that will have future impact with my time.

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  19. Sandy

    08/07/2014

    This type of post is my favorite. The wisdom you share is very motivating to me because it reminds me that I have choices about how I spend my time, and that productivity is much more satisfying than procrastination and wasting time. Those have been struggles for me. Since I have been implementing your ideas, things are improving in my home which in turn positively impacts life in general!

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  20. Jennifer C

    08/09/2014

    I also highly recommend the Laura Vanderkam book “168 Hours” — it really made me look at my time differently. She also has a book called “All the Money in the World” that made me look at money in a different way as well.

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  21. Tya

    08/13/2014

    I make time for my family. I have 3 children: 8, 6, 4 and they will never be these ages again; so we decided that it’s important for us to cherish every minute. We moved 2,000 miles a year ago and have already visited many places that even our native neighbors haven’t. We enjoy learning and adventuring together.

    We also read and encourage reading as much as possible. We visit the library almost weekly, read before naps and most bedtime, and we enjoy audio books in the car while going on our adventures.

    I also make time for homeade food. Organic produce is especially plentiful here and inspires me to make colorful meals. I find it financially worthwhile and a healthier choice for our family.

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