Say ‘It’s Not A Priority’, Not ‘I Don’t Have Time’

Say ‘It’s Not A Priority’, Not ‘I Don’t Have Time’

We lead busy lives and use our limited time as an excuse to procrastinate and avoid getting things done, but often claiming we don’t have time is a lie. It’s a lie we tell others and ourselves. It helps us believe we’ll never get anything done, and this is a problem. Fortunately, the solution might be as simple as changing your language.

Photo by Oleksii Abramov (Shutterstock).

Wall Street Journal writer Laura Vanderkam explains:

Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels. Often, that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don’t want to. But other things are harder. Try it: “I’m not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it’s not a priority.” “I don’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.” If these phrases don’t sit well, that’s the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently.

It’s a simple idea and a great one. Our language is often used to provide a polite answer when the truth might be hard to hear. Sometimes we even subject ourselves to more polite language and end up in situations like this one. How you use your time is very important. It’s a limited resource and shouldn’t be wasted. Don’t risk putting it to poor use by failing to be honest with yourself and others about your priorities in life. Alter your language and you may just discover what’s most important.

Are You As Busy As You Think? [Wall Street Journal via Swissmiss]


  • Hi IT Guy, could you please have a look at my problem?
    Sorry Other Guy, I don’t have time.
    But it’s important
    I’m sorry, but I’m already tied up doing something else even more important, otherwise I totally would.
    Oh that’s sad. Is there someone else who might have time?


    Hi IT Guy, could you please have a look at my problem?
    It’s not a priority
    But it’s important
    I understand that it’s important to you, but it’s not a priority for me
    Who’s your manager?

    Have to say, I’m not really sold on this idea.

Log in to comment on this story!