Time. It’s the one thing we all wish we had more of, yet it constantly feels like it slips through our fingers, leaving us to exclaim, “I don’t have time!”

But what if I told you that thinking there’s not enough time to finish everything is a trap? And that, even in a fast-paced world that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and stressed, you have more control over your time than you think?

It’s true. And today, I’m going to tell you exactly how to stop saying, “I don’t have time.”

Ready to get started? Let’s go.

Why you don’t have enough time

When I worked on Wall Street, the phrase “I DON’T HAVE TIME! THERE’S NOT ENOUGH TIME!” might as well have been tattooed on my forehead.  

Time was my enemy!

If only I could somehow work 1,000 hours a week… then I’d REALLY get the results I wanted! I didn’t say it out loud, but that was my secret fantasy.

So I bragged to anyone who would listen: “Even though I work 80- and 90-hour weeks, I don’t have time to finish everything. If only I had 100 hours!”

Because when you think MORE TIME is the answer, then the only strategy becomes:  

Get more time by WORKING MORE and WORKING HARDER.  


But the problem was that it wasn’t working. And it’s probably not working for you either. I gained 70+ pounds. My chronic disease became unmanageable. I had to break off an engagement.

I was surrounded by evidence that my “work more to get more time” strategy was actually failing.  

What I didn’t realize at the time is that studies show that when you work more than 40 hours a week for more than two months, your measured productivity slows down to match the 40-hour-a-week level.  

So it turns out that all those extra hours and losing sleep weren’t increasing my productivity one bit, but they were destroying everything else in my life!  

I realized I had to replace my limiting belief that “I don’t have time” with something more powerful. Something that could get me out of the hole I was in.

And these are the 10 steps that helped me do it: 

1. Manage your energy 

The higher truth is that it’s not about managing your time. It’s about managing your ENERGY.

With the right energy, you can do more work in an hour than you can in a day.

We can do anything we want in life – but not everything. 

Today, whenever I find myself saying, “God, I don’t have time because there’s not enough of it,” I use the Right Action Principle.

It’s all about three things: The right thing, time, and level. 

Right action principle

Here are the three questions to ask when using the Right Action Principle.

1. Am I focusing on the right thing?

Part of getting your time back is prioritizing what really matters and figuring out if you’re focused on the right tasks. 

It’s not your job to get everything done – it’s your job to decide what should and shouldn’t get done.

2. Am I doing it in the right amount of time?

Timing is everything. Think about investing your time like investing in stocks. 

Invest too early and you waste resources. But invest too late and it becomes a moot point.

3. Am I doing it to the right level of completion?

You have to find the right balance of how much you invest in your work. 

Investing too much turns you into a perfectionist, which makes it hard to kick the can down the road. But investing too little leads to low-quality work.

Hear more about the Right Action Principle in this video: 

2. Manage your priorities

Managing your priorities is crucial for achieving more in less time AND reducing your stress. 

This is where an effective to-do list comes in handy. 

(Psst: We’ll show you how to create one in this guide.)

Start by listing everything you need to do and prioritizing what truly matters.

Part of managing your priorities is keeping everything organized – but our brains aren’t wired for it. That’s where online task managers come in. 

Tools like Todoist, Trello, and Asana help you visually manage your priorities, track tasks, and set deadlines. We’ve rounded up the best ones here and will help you pick the right one in this video:

Trust me, when we started using Asana, it changed our lives. We even built an entire course on how to use it!

3. Plan ahead 

When clients tell me, “I don’t have time to get everything done each week,” I always ask them the same thing: Have you tried planning your week ahead of time? 

Almost all of them say no. But planning ahead is a key strategy for maximizing your time.

That’s why we created the Winning the Week Formula. 

Planning your week

Here’s how it works.

Step one: Start with a weekly review and reflect on what went well and what didn’t. 

Step two: Set goals for the upcoming week and break the largest into smaller, more actionable tasks.

Step three: Prioritize those tasks with the “Champagne Moment” exercise. Which task would you be so happy to finish that you’d buy a bottle of champagne on the way home?

Step four: Calendarize your to-do list by blocking off specific times for those tasks.

Step five: Review everything you’ve accomplished and plan for the following week accordingly. 

Learn more about the formula in this guide.

4. Do something you enjoy

If you say, “I don’t have time,” more often than not, it might be because you don’t enjoy the things you are spending your time on. 

Sometimes to-do lists have to be filled with necessary but uninspiring tasks. But incorporating activities that keep you engaged and spark joy can make a significant difference.

Studies show that people who only do mundane chores at home are more likely to feel down than those who do the same chores alongside more enjoyable activities, like volunteering.

It’s also been found that people who are passionate about their work and engaged in meaningful tasks felt less stressed than those who weren’t.

So, whether it’s a hobby or a new project at work, make time to do something you enjoy. You’ll feel more accomplished and less overwhelmed.

5. Find a sense of control 

Most people who fall into the trap of “I don’t have time” feel like they’re racing against the clock because of outside pressures.

But it’s not about feeling busy. It’s about feeling out of control. 

So, instead of a reactive approach to time, take an active one.

Reactive vs. Active approach to time

Scheduling, managing, and structuring your days makes you feel more in control of your time.

Start by planning your day in advance, the way we talked about earlier! Write a to-do list and optimize it by breaking tasks into more manageable chunks where you can.

We’ll teach you to pre-plan your days here:

6. Understand the value of your time 

I know they say, “Time is money,” but the truth is that your time is worth far more than that. In fact, the richer you get, the less time you feel like you have.

Time is your most precious resource – once you lose it, you can’t get it back. And when you realize that, you can change your life by turning each choice you make into a more conscious one.

Time is your most precious resource quote

Those choices allow you to prioritize and focus on what brings you joy while creating a more balanced approach to work and leisure. When you value your time, you’re not just managing minutes – you’re creating a life that’s truly yours.

Sure, you might still be busy, but there’s a purpose to that busyness and you’ll end up saying, “I don’t have time” a lot less. 

7. Wake up earlier

When I get up early, I’m able to ease into my day, gather my thoughts, and make a plan with fewer distractions. It starts my day on the right foot.

Plus, taking advantage of those extra hours is a great way to banish the “I don’t have time” narrative you’ve got playing on repeat in your head. 

Why? Because people are more focused and productive in the morning. So start tackling tasks before the rest of the world wakes up!

But don’t sacrifice your sleep.

Without enough sleep, you become sluggish, tasks get harder to finish, your immune system weakens, and your cognitive function declines. That leaves you with the feeling of, “I don’t have time to finish this task because my body isn’t up to the challenge.”

8. Cut down on social media and Netflix 

On average, people spend nearly two and a half hours on social media and just over an hour streaming shows on Netflix every day.

Time spent on social media and streaming

Sources: GWI and Statista

So, next time you think, “I don’t have time,” think about how much time you’ve spent scrolling or streaming. It’s probably more than you realize.

Don’t believe me? Try tracking your time to get a better understanding of where your time is actually going. Chances are, it’ll stun you.

A client once told me, “I don’t have time to hang out with my husband.” When she tracked her time, she found that she spent 11 hours each week reading and watching the news!

I’ll teach you how to track time this video:

9. Say “no”

Chances are, you’re stuck believing “I don’t have time” because you say yes to everything that comes your way. But that leads to an overloaded schedule and ignored priorities.

Saying no helps you set boundaries and focus on what matters most to you.

So start evaluating opportunities more critically. Ask yourself if they truly align with your goals, values, and current commitments. If they don’t, politely decline. 

Saying no isn’t selfish. It means you’re being intentional with your time.

And don’t forget that “No” is a complete sentence – don’t feel pressured to explain your choices!

Quote: No is a complete sentence

10. Get help 

When your to-do list gets so long that you start thinking, “I don’t have time to do it all,” remember that there’s no shame in asking for help! 

Sometimes, that means outsourcing or delegating to create space for yourself to focus on tasks that are more in line with your priorities.

People assume outsourcing is only for super-busy professionals. But it can help you with dozens of tasks, whether they’re work-related or personal tasks!

Tasks to outsource

Learn how we outsource in this video:

Don’t forget that your partner is there for you, too. Saying, “I don’t have time, can you please help me?” will strengthen your partnership and create a more supportive environment.

If you find it hard to ask for help, remember that collaboration strengthens relationships and enhances productivity. 

Plus, you’re not Superman! It’s okay to admit you can’t do everything on your own. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness.

What’s next? 

There you have it! Proof that breaking free from the “I don’t have time” trap is well within reach.

When you make intentional choices with your time that align with your goals and values, you can start living a more balanced and fulfilling life.

But don’t underestimate the power of planning ahead.

Remember the Winning the Week Method we talked about earlier? We’ve created a worksheet that will help you feel less overwhelmed in just five simple steps.

Get it for FREE here:

Read more:

How to Stop Being Lazy

My Schedule Sucks And There’s NOTHING I Can Do About It

Combating Overwhelm in Simple Steps

Demir & Carey Bentley

Demir and Carey Bentley are the founders of Lifehack Method, WSJ & USA Today bestselling authors, and executive productivity coaches. They've helped thousands of people avoid burnout and soar to their highest level of productivity. Read more about them here.