Skip to content

What’s your excuse? “I don’t have time …”

Today I tweeted:

#Jobseekers: If you don’t make yourself a priority, no one else will. Won’t “find” & can’t “make” time. DEDICATE time to reach your goals.

"Whatever Clock" from

after a caller shared with me they: hated their current job, needed a resume to launch a new search, but “didn’t have time” to work on a new resume or search for a new position. (“Couldn’t they just send me what they had, and I’d make it pretty?” We won’t go into all the things wrong with that approach here. And no, the caller did not become my client. Sometimes, no matter what I do, they don’t understand the value derived from taking time to derive their value.)

The caller wanted to make a change, but when it came time to invest time and energy, they weren’t willing to evaluate how they allocated their time or make minor adjustments in their time allocation to attain a goal. They proudly announced they didn’t have time … as if they’d only been given 20 hours per day, while the rest of us fortunate souls received 24.

Anyway, about a year ago, I made a conscious decision to remove, “I don’t have time” and “I can’t afford …” from my vocabulary. That’s not to say, I was miraculously granted all the time and money in the world, but I stopped using nebulous, “out of my control” reasons (excuses) for not doing or purchasing things and decided to accept the responsibility for my decision, as if I made them myself … which … (wait for it) … I did.

I don’t have time …

How often do you say, I don’t have time for this or that? Frankly, for the most part, it’s not you don’t have time; you (me, we) CHOOSE NOT to allocate or dedicate time to the activity in question. Saying “I don’t have time” makes it much easier to say no, excuse yourself for not tackling a challenging task, or explain away not starting a new, exciting, yet daunting project. Everyone nods knowingly and not much explanation is needed. It’s vague and lets you off the hook, as if some magical, mystical, external force is the universe if preventing you from:

Cleaning that closet
Writing a blog post
Taking donations to charity
Starting a remodel project
Going out to dinner with friends
Spending time with family
Initiating a new business initiative
Launching a job search (See how I brought that back around?)

Start accepting responsibility for your decisions. It usually is not some force in the universe preventing your from doing things; it is you, and you alone.

By the way: When “I don’t have time” crosses my mind, I remind myself I had time to:

Take a nap
Check into Frasier 137 times on Get Glue
Cruise Facebook and Pinterest for hours
Follow countless links and read many, many interesting articles and posts via my Twitter stream
Peruse comments sections on some of those articles and posts
Spend a few hours porch-sitting with my neighbor

That’s not to say, a little downtime isn’t good (read: required) for the soul. But, reset your thinking, enlist some support, if needed. Turn off the TV or your computer for a little while. Taking 15 minutes here or 30 minutes there from the “fun and mindless” activities and dedicating that time to a more difficult project delivers some amazing results.

This isn’t just my opinion., a wildly-popular, global website teaches “you can do anything 15 minutes at a time.” The Twitter Job Search Guide is subtitled Find a job and advance your career in just 15 minutes a day. And Social Networking for Career Success outlines the many tools and tactics you can use, to support long-term career success, a little at a time. (Shameless promo: I contributed to each book.)

The next time you’re going to utter the words, “I don’t have time,” stop and think, do you not have time because it’s too much effort, too much trouble, too difficult, too big, or something you really don’t want to do. If it’s something you really don’t want to do, say, “Thank you for thinking of me, but no thank you.” If it’s “too anything …” look at the level of importance the task holds to your overall goals. If it’s important, you won’t have to worry about finding or making time, you’ll dedicate it. If it’s not that important to you, release it. It’s not that you don’t have time; you choose not to invest time in that venture at this time.

The next five years (five minutes, five hours, five days) will pass regardless what you choose to do. Some people use that time to advance their career to new and glorious heights. Others sit and lament the lack of time.  We all have 24-hours each day. Figure out how you want to spend them.

Next time, we’ll talk about “I can’t afford …

(PS – Have I perfected the “no excuse” approach to time allocation? Absolutely not, but I’m getting there. That’s why I blogged about it. I figured if I needed a gentle reminder, someone else probably did too.)

Copy the code below to your web site.


  1. Hi Dawn,

    I don’t have time for this comment but…

    Seriously, great post. It’s easy to say “I don’t have time” and even believe it but many of those people have time to: Take a nap
    Check into Frasier 137 times on Get Glue
    Cruise Facebook and Pinterest for hours
    Follow countless links and read many, many interesting articles and posts via my Twitter stream
    Peruse comments sections on some of those articles and posts
    Spend a few hours porch-sitting with my neighbor

    It’s about priorities and getting mentally stuck in the importance of minutae. Sometimes, as you pointed out, also avoiding a challenge. I’ve struck unwarranted “I’m sorry” from my vocabulary and “I can’t” , now I want to do it with “time.” Cherry

    • Dawn says:

      Hi Cherry –

      I don’t have time to respond to this, but … 🙂

      Thank you for chiming in. Ironically, I thought about “I can’t” as part of this “What’s your excuse?” series. Thanks for cementing that thought. Watch for it.

      Funny. I too struck “I’m sorry” from my vocabulary years ago. I may regret something happened and I may apologize for that event, but that “something” didn’t make me a bad person, as I’m sorry implies. (Living in the south, “sorry” usually takes on the {} definition of: wretched, poor, useless, or pitiful — of which I am none of the above.)

      Thanks for contributing such wonderful insights to the conversation. Stop in again!

  2. DawnBugni says:

    So true, so true, Dawn. Funny how believing “we don’t have the time” is really a cover for realizing “we don’t know what to do or how.” You have such a wonderful way of throwing a big pail of water on us without getting anything but our sorry excuses wet! Well done, ~Dawn

Leave a Reply