I Don’t Have Time

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Blog BattleSEP is currently having a blog battle between some of the employees. This weeks challenge is the title – I Don’t Have Time.

I have, on occasion, been asked where I find the time for playing with all of these cool languages and frameworks. Or presenting. Or teaching an internal class.

Funny how no one ever says, “Where do you find the time to watch America’s Got Talent?

When someone says the don’t have the time they are actually saying, “That’s not important to me.”

About a year ago, I started studying for a .NET certification upgrade. Since SEP is a Microsoft Gold Partner, they made it worth my while to maintain my certification. It wasn’t easy. I spent at least a couple hours on most nights studying for about three months. The opportunity cost was I could have spent that time with my wife. I would have spent that time playing with frameworks, software, etc, but I would have done it while watching TV with her as she wrote lesson plans, graded papers, or made crafts. Or helping run the house. Fortunately, she had buy-in on this endeavor since that much time impacted her life as well.

I don’t go fishing. I don’t watch the local sports team with friends. Software is my hobby. I used to play role-playing games with my coworkers. I used to draw a webcomic. While I still enjoy those things and occasionally still draw and game, I have other things I would rather be doing most of the time.

When I explained this, I was told when I have kids I’ll understand that doesn’t fly.

Surprise! My wife and I now have an infant daughter. Here’s the deal as I see it now.

It is still a matter of setting your priorities. Figure out what those are and align your life to them.

Shortly after we returned to work we realized that just about all we were doing was either cleaning the house or taking care of our daughter. Or in her case prepping her class of first graders. So we’ve made a simple deal. We need to find time for one another to do the things that make us who we are. She has blocked out time to bake and make cards. I have found time to attend a user group, read, draw, and even blog on occasion. We shop together and find time to eat out. These take time. I could take Sophie grocery shopping, leaving my wife time to lounge on the patio with coffee and a book, But it’s time we are willing to spend because it is time spent together. And she hates coffee.

The other thing about our doing those things they are either scheduled or can be done in snatches.

Some things are still not happening. I don’t get much of a chance to play music since I’d rather spend my time elsewhere. I don’t attend Code and Coffee because I’m driving Sophie at that time in the morning. But I’m not whining about those losses. I have chosen. I have edited down my life to handle a bigger priority. I love the time I spend with my little girl, and I’d rather spend time with her than many other things I also enjoy.

Let me walk through some time sucks and cases why you might choose to spend that time.

I work 60 hours a week or have a long commute. Some employers are the only way to get health benefits for children and spouses with preexisting conditions. To make enough to raise a child with a stay at home parent, you may have to trade a ‘fun job’ for a better paying job at the expense that you yourself spend with your children. Self employment sometimes trades the flexibility and autonomy for time.

My kids have so many activities. You enjoy spending time helping your kids find friends and activities they are passionate about. You may even enjoy participating along side.

I have to fix up my fixer-upper house. You traded home cost for your time. You enjoy rebuilding the house and making it your own.

I have meetings with some organization. You find participation with this group fulfilling. Or you see networking opportunities that are important.

There is no secret to finding time. You can’t fit 25 hours in to a day. You sleep less or do less. I would avoid sleeping less. I have an infant daughter and I know where that leads.

So, let me challenge you. Next time you find yourself saying, “I don’t have time.” Ask yourself if it’s because life happens to you, leaving you with no choices. Or admit that you have other priorities and it’s just not as important. Then find peace with that.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Mike Brown  •  Oct 25, 2012 @1:33 am

    Very good points all around. I think “I don’t have time to work 40 hours and spend more time honing my craft” is a cop out. It’s just not important to you. And that’s fine, just don’t complain about being dead-ended in your career supporting some Delphi Application written back in 85 because career growth wasn’t a priority for you.

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