Instead of saying, “I don’t have time,” try saying “It’s not a priority” and see how that lands. More often than not, it’s the absolute truth. I have time to make follow-up calls, I just don’t want to. But it’s definitely a priority. When I change my language and say, “It’s not a priority,” it gives me a ginormous kick in the rear that jolts me into the truth: There is nothing more that I have time for.

And try sharing this language shift with your support team, the folks whose No. 1 priority is to hold you accountable for your top impact-producing activities.

I recently received an email from a colleague who wanted to “catch up” on life and business. The simple act of shifting my automatic internal response from “I don’t have time” – which is typically inaccurately followed with “right now” – to “This is not a priority” gave me the clarity to actually stop and think about this relationship.

I can set my watch to the two to three times a year he shows up in my inbox with a request to “catch up,” ironically, usually when he is switching brokerage houses. Every meeting includes him asking me to pull out my credit card or hand him leads. With this new language, I stopped and asked myself, “Is this a priority for ME?”

The answer was no – truthfully, a hell no. That shifted my obligatory “He helped me out in the early years, I do owe him,” which is the truth. But that was 22 years ago. I have expressed gratitude over the years. I owe him nothing any longer. My response, which would typically consist of “I would love to but I don’t have time right now; how about …” was replaced with “I have pre-existing deadline-driven priorities that have my full focus and attention. When I am freed up, I will reach out. Hope all is well, take care.”

Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently. Try it out; pay attention next time you want to respond with “I don’t have time” and replace it with “It’s not a priority.”

It changes everything.

Deepak Chopra calls this “time sickness” when we give away our most-coveted resource, time, and verbally say yes when our insides are screaming no. This “time sickness” is the onramp to overwhelm, and ultimately, as we gain momentum, leads to stress, anxiety and resentment. Because we are cheating ourselves.

Give it a try; it helps to have a sticky note everywhere you find yourself committing without the power of the pause. I have a sticky note on my computer, in my car, on my bathroom mirror and in the billfold that houses my super, duper “smart” phone – the biggest offender of “sure.”

Give it a try for the next 10 requests for your time, whether they’re an hour or “just a minute.” Let us know how you make out. We would love to hear and offer any support.  Book a discovery call with us today!

Molly & Laney


employee playbook


Everything you need to turn around your people, processes, productivity and profitability is right here in this free e-Book.


Feel like your people—and their productivity—are a mess? Don’t worry, this book has your back! Download this book for free and follow our advice about how to empower your employees to step up and lead!

You have Successfully Subscribed!