Word Swaps: “I Don’t Have Time To…”


How many hours does Martha Stewart have in a day?

How many hours does Michelle Duggar have in a day?

How many hours does Serena Williams have in a day?

How many hours does Ang Suu Kyi have in a day?

How many hours do you have in a day?  Yup, 24.  Same as everyone else who has ever lived.

Today’s challenge is a powerful word swap that I learned from my boot camp coach.  She doesn’t tolerate when someone says, “I don’t have time to exercise.”  You have to phrase it, “Exercise is not a priority for me.”  Ouch.  That puts the responsibility on…ME.

It’s true!  We all have the same amount of hours in the day.  Some of us have 19 children to wrangle.  Some of us dedicate huge blocks of time to athletic training.  Some of us sacrifice sleep to fight for social justice.  Some of us have businesses we built from nothing.  Some of us have immaculate homes.  We allocate time to whatever we make a priority.

Claiming “I don’t have time” can be helpful when I use it as an excuse to say no to something I don’t want to do.  I don’t have time to clean the baseboards.  Cleaning baseboards is not a priority.  Yeah, I’m OK with that.  But when it comes to something that I want to do but I’m not doing, using “not a priority” over “I don’t have time” makes me refocus on how I am spending my time.  For years, I said, “I don’t have time to write.”  Now I blog every day and I love it.  I made it a priority.  I quit running when I was pregnant with Carlos and I miss it.  If I keep telling myself I don’t have time to run, I’ll keep avoiding it.  But if I have to say, “Running isn’t a priority for me,” and that feels like an untruth, I better make time.  If I can say it and it feels true, I can let go of the idea that I want to be running right now.

Try it today!  Think of something that you’ve written off because you don’t have time.  Now rephrase it as “that’s not a priority” and see how it feels.  If it feels true, good for you!  If it doesn’t feel true, make it a priority!

Laura VanderKam seems to be the  source of the “it’s not a priority” language.  Her book 168 Hours:  You Have More Time Than You Think is on my Kindle.  Now I just have to make it a priority…

6 thoughts on “Word Swaps: “I Don’t Have Time To…”

  1. Susan Nemetz

    Oh Ashley. You are making me be accountable, but you are so right. Thank you for sharing your thoughts so eloquently. I enjoy reading your blog and yes I make it a priority.


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