The Top 12 Time Management Lies We Tell Ourselves


When it comes to time, we are all guilty of telling ourselves little white lies.

Sometimes we tell big whoppers, too.

I don’t have enough time… I’ll get to it later… maybe someday…

What are you saying to yourself?

Deceiving Ourselves

It’s easy to lie to ourselves. We feel it is harmless because we think it only affects us. (Which is not true…) And after all, it’s pretty easy to forgive oneself.

But, these deceptions, both small and large, have impacts that control our lives.

Perhaps, the biggest self lie ever told is, “I don’t have time.”

Followed closely by, “I can’t do that.”

What lies are you telling?

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

When you are trying to get things done, when you are trying to reach your goals, take a hard look at the things you are telling yourself.

Many times, we are self-limiting based on statements that are simply not true.

Here are the Top 12 Time Management Lies That We Tell Ourselves:

  1. I don’t have time. - Yes, you do have time. The same in the day as everyone else. You have just chosen to spend it elsewhere.
  2. I have to do this. - The next time you say this, ask yourself, “What would happen if I didn’t do this?” Many of the things we take for granted as “must do” are only required because we let them be.
  3. I am going to exercise more. - I want to get into shape, but I don’t have time. (See #1) You do have time to workout, you don’t have the will.
  4. I am going to do it… - Stop saying. Start doing. There is a big difference between saying you are going to do something, and actually doing it. Action always beats empty words.
  5. When I have more time… - You have all the time you are going to have. You are not going to “have more” later. Truth be told, you don’t even know how much you have left. Just do it now.
  6. When things settle down… - There is no normal life. Just life. Life is not going to suddenly calm down in the future so that you can do something new. Some of the best work is done under pressure and while things are busiest.
  7. I’ll do it tomorrow… - Today is the day. Not tomorrow. Or the day after that. Stop putting off things until tomorrow. Let today be the day.
  8. I am not lucky… – If that is what you believe, then it will be so. However, you make your own luck. And the secret is, that the harder you work, the luckier you get. (True.) Don’t wait for luck to come your way, go out and find it.
  9. I can’t do that… - If you haven’t tried, then how do you know? We are all stronger than we think. Only by stretching yourself will you find that your boundaries are much larger you think.
  10. I am going to change… – Most people don’t change. They get older, maybe a little bigger. But, most do not change. Change is hard. So, don’t take it lightly when you “say” you are going to change. It takes concentrated effort and much discipline.
  11. I can get this done in an hour… – We often underestimate the time that tasks take. Have you ever pulled an all-nighter on a project that you thought we only take a few hours?
  12. That deadline isn’t important… – Many of us are numb to deadlines, thinking that they are not important. However, even if there is not an apparent consequence, there is always lost time and missed opportunities.

Telling the Truth

The next time you hear some of these statements, question their accuracy.

Instead, be straightforward about what you will do and what you can accomplish.

Be truthful about your actions.

And of course, be honest with yourself.

Question: What time management lies are you guilty of telling yourself?

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://bilelloryan.tumblr.com/ Ryan Bilello

    “That deadline isn’t important” is the one I am most guilty of as of late. My 

  • http://awayfind.com/ Kristen Youngman

    Hi Craig, great article. I really like #2. I often try to take on too many things I’d like to do, thinking this is the only time I’ll have this opportunity, only to have other commitments suffer. Interestingly, asking yourself “What would happen if I didn’t do this?” is one that my company, AwayFind, often asks regarding checking email all day. “What would happen if you didn’t check your email every 5 minutes?” In the name of time management and productivity, we try to show people how much of their day is really eaten up by the 5 seconds they think it takes to check email. I saw in your profile that you are dedicated finding the simplest way to be most efficient. What email approaches to you implement for yourself?

    • http://www.timemanagementninja.com/ Craig Jarrow

      Kristen, good stuff!

      Yes… I think email is a problem for many individuals and companies. It is the logjam in many organizations.

      I am a big fan of AwayFind and use it on my iPhone. :) 

      We should connect sometime. Would love to feature AwayFind on TMN. I did recognize it in a recent Webinar entitled, “The Top 10 Time Management Technologies That You Aren’t Using… But Should Be.” :)

  • AnneEgros

    Hi Craig, Very good list ! My favorite  #5:  When I have more time… - You have all the time you are going to have. You are not going to “have more” later.  So true !

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  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    Great list. I would add “It is someone elses fault I don’t have the time because…..(insert all sorts of excuses!!). We need to take total responsibility for our time even when we think the issue is of someone elses doing.  

    • http://www.timemanagementninja.com/ Craig Jarrow

      Ali… oh… I like that one.

      Too often people blame their procrastination on the action (or lack) of others!

      No excuses! :)

  • http://www.lomaymi.com/ Luis O Maymí

    I like #3 because I hear it A LOT. I had heard the “I don’t have time”, but also “I’m too tired to exercise”.  I do a really intense workout and I can honestly say that exercising  gives you more energy to work on other things.

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  • Adittya78

    Thank you for encoregment……truth that do it now or never.

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