This morning, I read an interesting blog post about time management that included the following line:
“We all have the same number of hours in the day as Beyonce.”
The author’s point is: We all have the same number of hours in the day as various human supernovas, so lack of time isn’t at the root of why we do some things and not others; the fact is we’ve chosen to prioritize different things.
This is all well and good—and true!— but it occurred to me that some of us fall back on “I don’t have time,” because we don’t know how to say, “What you care about is not what I care about so I’m going to go do something else.”
With this in mind, I put together three options you can use instead of “I don’t have time….” Options that offer you a range of wiggle room, depending on your listener/situation.
Option 1: “I’m making X—not Y— a priority right now.”
This one is the softest, as it leaves room for your hearer to question your priorities. If you feel a discussion is necessary or would be beneficial, by all means have at it. If, having explained your choice, others are still inclined to quibble, you can move along to:
Option 2: “My focus is on X right now.”
As you can see, taking Y out of the equation gives others less room to maneuver. With luck, at this point your listener(s) will choose to support you. Given the difficulty some people have in allowing others to be in charge of their own destiny, however, I offer:
Option 3: “I’m not available for X.”
This one works because, while we all understand intellectually that “No is a complete sentence,” many of us have difficulty being this abrupt. This option has the same effect on your hearer, but without giving you a brain cramp.
As to which option Beyonce might pick, only she knows what she would do…