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Finding Time


How often have we heard the line “sorry, I just don’t have the time” in reply to suggesting an activity to a friend or asking for help? Perhaps you have said this yourself to other people. While it could be genuinely true for many, the harsh reality is that it’s not usually entirely the case.

If we get this response, we usually give the person the benefit of the doubt - after all who are we to question how much time they really have? But at the back of our mind, we often wonder if we have just been given a quick and easy excuse. The only reason we do doubt it is because we have most likely given this excuse ourselves at some point. What does it really mean?

  • I genuinely have a lot to do and can’t realistically fit it in: For many of us, we take on far too much and although we would like to help or do something with someone, we feel stressed when there is a lot on our plate already.
  • I have more important things to do, than do that with you: This sounds harsh but sometimes other, more important priorities, can take over at any particular time.
  • I don’t have anything to do, but I don’t want to do that anyway: It’s cold, but sometimes a person is not in the mood, is tired or what you have suggested doesn’t appeal to them. Perhaps in that moment, they were looking forward to hanging out on the couch with a good book and a glass of wine but feel a bit mean admitting that they would prefer that to hanging out with you.
  • I don’t have anything to do but I don’t want to explain why I can’t do that: Sometimes it is easier to tell a white lie than have to explain why you don’t want to do something with someone. Maybe you are not in the mood or you actually don’t like hanging out with that person much. It is usually a quick instinctive reaction to get out of it easily with no awkward questions.

    Even though the underlying reasons behind the response can seem harsh, we can all admit we have used some of them in our relationships.

    WHEN someone tells you they do not have time, about 90% of the time it is most likely a lie. But this is not shocking because we all know it. Yet, we usually let it pass without question when someone says it to us. However, instead of dismissing this common lie, perhaps we should consider what this really means for our friendships and relationships with others.

  • You are a low priority: Is this really the basis of a good relationship with someone if they continually imply you are not a high priority in their life? Relationships take effort on both sides, so if you are both using this excuse, then it may be a time to question it.
  • You are not getting the respect you deserve: We are all worthy of good relationships with friends, family and loved ones and we deserve respect. Ask yourself why you are not getting that. Do they really value you as an important person in their life?
  • They can’t be truthful with you: A real friend will tell you they have other plans and won’t want to lie to you. They will go to some lengths to make it up to you, arrange another time, because they want to spend time with you. If they feel they have to lie, then there could be an underlying problem.

    THIS use of an excuse is well known. We are all guilty of using it. But what does it say about ourselves, our integrity and outlook on relationships in our life? Deep down we each know the meaning behind why it is used- whether we hear it from others or use it ourselves. But just because we don’t openly admit what it really means, doesn’t mean it is not having an impact.It gives an unsaid impression of you that builds up over time and can damage close relationships or break close bonds.

    What thoughts do people perhaps have when they hear from you that you just don’t have time?

    • You are so bad at organizing what you are doing that you can’t use your time well.
    • What an arrogant person you are that you don’t even tell me the real reason you are saying no.
    • This person clearly does not respect our relationship, and now I am starting to lose respect for them.

Make the Time, or Tell the Truth

In the end, it is about priorities. Everyone has 24 hours each day-but it is more about our mindset and how we chose to organize our time. We all have the choice to either make time for something or not. The ideal is to ditch the excuses and be honest. Explain why you don’t have time, because although this make come across as harsh, it is no less harsh than than the impact of people wondering what the real reason is, and diminishing respect on both sides.

  • Tell them it is not your priority: It is difficult to say but being honest is the best long term result. Our time is a limited resource and there is no point in pretending we have unlimited time. It may come across as harsh but honesty does not leave the other person thinking they have been dismissed with a feeble excuse.
  • Tell them the reason: The best thing is to explain why in order to lessen the harsh reality. This will cause the person to understand your position a bit better and have less negative effect on your relationship in the long run.
  • Arrange an Alternative: Always try to carve out another time to make them a priority.

If you want to create or preserve a relationship, it is important show them they can be a priority to you, just not right now. Try to immediately propose an alternate time and date.

Remember the excuse of “I don’t have enough time” is more damaging than you realize. If you find yourself using it a lot, you may wish to question your values toward friends.

Start being honest. It could save your integrity and connection with the important people in your life.


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