What “I Just Don’t Have Enough Time” Really Means

When employees say they just don't have enough time, dig deeper to discover what's really going on.

When employees say they just don't have enough time, dig deeper to discover what's really going on.

You own a business. Naturally, there are a lot of activities that have to be performed if your business is going to make money. As most of us are not able to do everything necessary to run a business, we enlist the help of others. You train people and assign tasks for them to perform. If that was all that you had to do to run a business, everyone who accomplished the hiring, training, and assigning would be rich, and have all kinds of spare time. No time, you say? Then read on.

A Real Business Challenge

Greg is a lawyer and has a small staff: two paralegals and two associate attorneys. He laments that he has to finish all of the various projects that he gets from clients. Over time he talks with a member of his staff about why they did not complete the project. They say, “I just don’t have time.” Greg is on the fast track to burnout. His weekends are full of work finishing projects to meet the deadlines. His weeks are full of finishing projects to meet deadlines.

Pat is an accountant and she has a staff of accountants and secretaries. Pat trains her accountants and explains that they work on deadlines: quarterly tax plans, tax returns, and accounting audit projects. Pat asks about the projects and their status. She hears that everything is “fine.” Pat stops there and goes on her way. The problem is that Pat spends her nights and weekends finishing up work she assigned to others. When she asks her employee why the job was not finished she is told, “Because I just do not have enough time.”

Steve owns a home delivery service. Every week his team has to get deliveries to his customers’ homes. He also has someone to manage the office and another person to execute his marketing. Steve has to wear many hats in his business. He may be loading trucks, working on accounting issues, marketing, and handling customer complaints. Steve has hired people to take care of all of these tasks but when they don’t get done he is told, “I just do not have enough time.”

Meet The Challenge Head On

The “not enough time” problem is endemic. Every one of my consulting clients runs into this at one time or another. Frankly, this is usually given as the reason that person is thinking about selling their business or just shutting it down. Week in and week out, year in and year out, this is an exhausting challenge if it is not met head on.

Accepting the story “I just don’t have enough time” is one big reason why inept and incompetent people are able to stay at the jobs for so long. Truth is, not everyone is capable of performing the jobs for which they were hired. If a person is incompetent, they just do not have what it takes to do their job. The “I don’t have enough time” is their go-to when the boss seeks to hold them accountable.

I do not recall ever hearing someone tell me, “I am not smart enough, hard working enough, or talented enough to perform by job.” They usually say that they just don’t have enough time. I have never heard an employee cutting themselves out of their own job because they just don’t have what it takes. It is up to the business owner to make these decisions, tough decisions for the good of the company and everyone who draws a salary there.

What Successful People Have Time For

The truth is that we have time for what we have in our attention. Successful people plan what they are going to put their attention on, and usually when they will do it. They stick to the plan.

It might look like wake up, plan the top five things that have to get accomplished, then work out. Into the business and accomplish the five things first. Then look for the next most important five things and list them. Accomplish the next three out of the five and then head home. At home, devote time to their families, perhaps dinner together and conversation. After dinner, some socializing or a family activity. Later, perhaps an hour of self-improvement, reading to up their games. Finally, bed and a good nights’ sleep.

These people plan where their attention is going to go, and stick to it. They accomplish their goals, re-set their goals, and gracefully reap the benefits of good health, healthy businesses, healthy families and personal growth. They usually make it look easy.

How To Handle Employees Who “Just Don’t Have Time”

When an employee tells you “they just don’t have time” don’t just shake your head and walk away. Start your inquiry there. Ask, “What does that mean?” Really dig down and find out what they mean when they say they don’t have time.

Perhaps they are struggling with a personal issue. Perhaps they need you to provide them with a new piece of equipment and that will solve their time problems. Perhaps, they are inefficient in planning their time. Or worse yet, perhaps they are goofing off or spending their time surfing the internet when they should be doing their work. You may find that when they say that they don’t have time, what they truly mean is that they do not have time for you or your business.

Do not let “I don’t have enough time” end the inquiry. That is where the inquiry begins!

Brian Vincent has over 30 years of experience as a business law attorney and has worked extensively with business owners to protect and defend their interests. In addition, he coaches people to become more flexible and effective in responding to business and personal challenges. To learn more, contact Brian online or at (616) 608-4440.