With all the difference of opinions and perspectives in the world, we have come upon something nearly everyone can agree upon: There is just not enough time. Not enough time is a feeling most of us live and deal with — some of us better than others.
Our clients seem to not have enough time. Our family members and friends never seem to have enough time. Anxiety around not enough time seems to be growing worse, or perhaps I am just more sensitive to it these days. I find myself trying to squeeze a few more tasks into each day while giving myself little pep talks about the virtues of efficiency.
Subtracting accomplishments from my list is very rewarding as I give myself high fives at the end of the day. Alas, the tenacious little tasks mysteriously multiply overnight, instantaneously repopulating my list of action items.
What's with this pandemic of not enough time? Have we humans always been in a race with the clock? Was there more time before the clock was invented? Were we racing the sun once upon a time? I'll leave that mystery to the scientists and sociologists to solve.
As we coach leaders and business owners to more effectively deal with this challenge, we attempt to identify common causes for not enough time to help them get to the root of the problem. Getting to the root cause of any problem renders a more sustainable solution. Common causes of not enough time include:
- Telling others what they want to hear. Over promising.
- Neglecting to effectively prioritize tasks once they hit our to-do list.
- Working in an environment where everything seems urgent and not questioning whether that is actually the case before making a commitment.
- Taking action before we are clear on what, when and why. This leads to having to do things over or wasting time on trivia.
- Busy getting behind in other peoples' work. Still doing tasks that others could do just as well or better. Reluctance to delegate. Not investing enough time and attention in developing others.
- Getting caught up in workplace drama.
- Distractions. Others may be distracting you. You may be distracting yourself. Internet searches can easily hijack time as we find ourselves going from search to surf mode.
- Hanging on to favorite tasks after being promoted to manager or leader. Not seeing that assigning these tasks can be developmental for others.
- Reluctance to ask for help.
- Not arranging like tasks together.
- Thinking that you can work harder and catch up rather than challenging yourself to work smarter.
- Not knowing when to say when.
- Addicted to work.
This list is certainly not meant to be all-inclusive for such a widespread and serious workplace condition. If you identified one or more of these time robbers, perhaps you can also see ways to break the pattern.
This continuous feeling of not enough time is no joke. If left unattended, it can be a serious drain on our health and vitality. Minimally, it can lead to a condition we refer to as burnout.
We all have the same amount of time in each day. We do not know how many days we will be granted. It's pretty hard to disagree with either of these facts.
And it is true that we will all run out of time. That's one more thing we can pretty much agree on. So perhaps we all have more in common than we realize. Why then do we expect the finite to be infinite? It's not. The urgent and important work here is to figure out what matters most and do it. Think bucket list.