If Not Now, Then When? It’s Time to Burn Your Excuses

by Jason Fitzgerald

Isn’t it funny how some runners have time to run, spend time with their families, pursue their career, and even (gasp) have a social life?

Time Flies

Time management is a fascinating topic. The case studies of postdoc students who can write multiple books, peer-reviewed papers, and defend a PhD thesis (all within a normal work-schedule) are what we should study and try to emulate in our own daily lives.

The sad truth is that most people run around like over-caffeinated chickens with their heads cut off. We bemoan our never-ending task list, commitments, and the pressure to work more and more hours.

But are you really as busy as you think? Do your excuses hold water when put up to real scrutiny?

According to a case study in the Wall Street Journal, the answer is no.

If you believe results from the American Time Use Survey, done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and other studies, plenty of Americans have faulty impressions of how they spend time in our “too-rushed-to-breathe” world…

I soon realized I’d been lying to myself about where the time was going. What I thought was a 60-hour workweek wasn’t even close. I would have guessed I spent hours doing dishes when in fact I spent minutes. I spent long stretches of time lost on the Internet or puttering around the house, unsure exactly what I was doing.

So if our excuses for being busy aren’t as valid as we once thought – how do we make time for things that are important to us?

I used to be so interested in this topic that I would spend hours reading productivity blogs and books every week. Making the most of my day and becoming super productive became a small obsession.

Then I realized that reading about productivity wasn’t helping me be productive. You can’t learn how to ride a bike by reading about it in a book – you actually have to get on a bike!

Making Time vs. Finding Time

Time is a non-renewable resource that must be treated as the most valuable currency available. You can always make more money – but you’ll never “make” more time. Once an afternoon of watching a rerun of that old movie (that you’ve already seen) is gone you can’t get it back.

I propose that we strike the phrase “make time” from our vocabulary and never use it again. Using it gives us a false sense that time can actually be created when it actually can just be used differently. We can find more time by eliminating distractions but we can never make more of it.

Like the article quoted above suggests, instead of saying “I don’t have time” you should say “It’s not a priority” instead. This small change in language can dramatically alter your perception of what’s truly important.

“I can’t do my long run because my marathon isn’t a priority”

“I’ll figure out my training later – my running isn’t a priority”

“I’ll spend hundreds on drinks this month, but I can’t invest in my running – that’s not a priority”

These make me feel uncomfortable – even though I’m guilty of them occasionally. All of us waste time and make poor decisions when we know what we should be doing. That can be running instead of watching TV. Or investing in a running program instead of buying yet another bottle of wine this week.

And many of our excuses are so simple to remedy – like “I don’t know what to do” or “But I always seem to get hurt when…” Getting out of your rut (like Rob did) requires a new mindset.

Stop reading so much running porn. Start taking action.

The Psychology of Excuses

The Time is Now

When we make excuses it’s usually out of fear or being lazy. We fear buying something because it won’t work. We fear a big workout because it will make us feel uncomfortable. Or we don’t commit to a running goal because that would mean actually doing hard work.

What we mean when we make these excuses is that we’re afraid of change or too lazy to change.

The only way to take control of our lives and accomplish what we’re passionate about is to burn our list of excuses. Start with this list of convincing and unique excuses.

There’s no reason you can’t do great things. You have the time – now you just need the drive and motivation to get it done.

I can’t go running for you. You have to do the work yourself. Like I tell the runners in my 1-on-1 coaching program, “I can give you the training and direction you need, but you have to do all the hard work!”

For 30 ways to find more time in your life – at work, on the computer, and at home – Zen Habits has a definitive list of time-saving tips for every conceivable scenario.

The Time is Now

The old saying goes, “There’s no perfect time to have kids.” You just have to go for it.

The same is true for almost everything:

Register for that race you’ve been thinking about.

Read the book that’s been sitting on your nightstand for months.

Join a community of runners that will support you.

The best time to start something was yesterday. The second best time is right now. <– Like that? Click here to tweet it!

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David H.

One of the greatest motivators for me when my wife and I had our son nearly 4 years ago was a friend of mine basically telling me I wouldn’t have time to train for a race in that first year. Four months later I ran a half marathon. I learned then that if I’m going to continue running, I just have to carve out my time to make it happen. I have my running time, my work time (at an ad agency where people LOVE to work), my family time, my side business time … and I still feel like I have time to do other stuff.

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