“I didn’t have time” and other ways to ruin your life.

“I didn’t have time” and other ways to ruin your life.

The larger a business gets the more inefficient it gets if left to its own devices. And the alarming fact is that the inefficiency is frequently and purposefully caused by human beings. 

Today I am pondering how humans create their own inefficiency over time. Many years ago someone told me “if the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll keep you busy”. The statement likens being busy, to being a bad person. You get the same results from both. And I could not agree more. 

Nothing in life can distract you from living an abundant life more than being a bad person, or being too busy. Both human conditions are great ways to ruin your life. 

As business owners, we can become quite proficient at not employing bad people (see my blog on ways to avoid employing bad employees here), but how equipped are we with identifying people that are too busy to build our businesses and in turn an abundant life for themselves?

Chances are you have many of these “busy” actors in your business and they’re slowly applying more and more pressure to the oxygen line of the living organism that is your business.

Not employing them in the first place is a great idea, but more importantly, how do you fix them once you find them under your leadership (the busy ones, I mean).

Over the years I have collected some excuses for bad time management that these bad actors use and I am going to share the top 7 gems.

Top 7 “busy people” excuses:

  1. I didn’t have time 
  2. There wasn’t enough time 
  3. I just have too many priorities
  4. I work in a very dynamic environment where you can’t really plan
  5. I don’t sit in front of a PC, I am always out in the field doing things
  6. You don’t understand, it’s different in our industry
  7. I get thousands of emails a day and I just can’t get through them.

You might even be reading this list and think “I make some of those excuses myself”.  If so this is going to help you too. Remember, if you’re too busy you’re having the same effect on your life as being a bad person. 

Let’s see how we can fix this. But before I do, allow me to lay down some truths about time and priorities:

  1. There are only 24 hours a day and more or less 8-12 hours of these are really meant for productive work (there are exceptions). There are also 7 days in a week and despite some attempts to lengthen or shorten this (read an article about Finlands 4 day week), we have always gravitated back to this perfect number.
  2. You can’t create time or get more of it. So saying I did not have enough is a senseless discussion. It’s a finite resource and this should never be a surprise to us (unless we can stop the earth from turning on its axis, or stop the sun from turning – whichever you believe in)
  3. All of life is dynamic and it has always been this way. Past generations all experienced similar volatility albeit with vastly different contexts. 
  4. Information is coming at us at a thousand miles an hour, but so is the growth in tools that help us to be more productive. 
  5. All environments of business create similar amounts of stress on the human race. It’s a function of being innovative and industrious beings and not as a result of the context (you can work yourself to death in any business or industry)
  6. Everyone has 1000’s of emails coming to them. And not necessarily because colleagues or customers or managers are emailing them, but rather from being subscribed and bombarded by clever marketing tactics from other businesses.

And if these are the truths then we have to be able to admit that we have been lying to ourselves, about how we manage time, all along.

We need to be talking about how we spend the finite time we have on a weekly basis, not talking about how little we have. When we force ourselves to accept that we only have finite time, only then can we develop sensible strategies on how to deal with the ever-changing environment that is business.

The facts are you’re not overworked, you have not run out of time and you don’t have too many emails. You are however taking on too much responsibility in on the day (maybe because you feel valuable when you do), you don’t purposefully plan to get the urgent and important done and you don’t have any email handling strategy in place.

As with any behavior issues that we deal with, we have to first admit that we have a problem before we can start looking for an answer.

My realisation about these things happened some 10 years ago when my PA asked me to employ another PA to handle the seemingly impossible task of getting to everything I thought was necessary to get done.

It was all my mistake and was caused by a total lack of knowledge on how to approach a dynamic day in business.

Have a look at those excuses again and ask yourself, how many of your employees give you these excuses and how will you fix them.

Tomorrow I will share my strategy that I used to get rid of my own excuses.

Have a great day!

P.S. Ouch! Technologies, one of my companies, specialises in the implementation of electronic systems to help you manage the time and attendance of your employees. Managing a diary or a calendar starts with teaching employees how to live a disciplined life. Contact them now to learn how they can help you establish that discipline.

Have a structured day!


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