My standard ‘father-response’ to the oft-heard complaint from children/teenagers that they just “don’t have time” to do whatever is expected of them – homework, clean their rooms, participate in some fun, family event – was the rather unsympathetic instruction to:
This being based on the understanding that “don’t have time” doesn’t actually mean “don’t have time” most of the time.
The real meaning varies, but it’s never about the number of hours or minutes available for the task that hasn’t yet been attempted, and may not be without fatherly chastisement:
“Don’t have time” = Actually, I have a lot of other tasks to tackle, and this thing is just not a priority.
“Don’t have time” = I’m really focused on something else right now, and it seems easier not to switch, even if the other thing is important.
“Don’t have time” = I’m avoiding beginning this thing because I expect it to be unpleasant or difficult.
And there’s the very common:
“Don’t have time” = Wow man, can’t you see how stressed I am??? I don’t know how you could even THINK of asking me to do this thing, too, in addition to everything else I have on my plate just now! What, are you crazy??
The truth of the above is easily verified, with the help of an extreme example.
Picture a single mom, working several jobs, cooking meals, helping with homework, and so on. She dreams of learning Italian, but doesn’t have a minute to herself, from the moment the baby wakes her at some unholy hour of the morning, to the time she collapses into an unmade bed late at night, the piles of ironing still not completed.
And yet… She takes the bus to work, or drives, but in any case, could be listening to Italian, don’t you think?
The lunch break is only 30 minutes, but there’s nowhere to go and her colleagues are unfriendly, so she mostly scrolls through social media while eating her sandwiches. She could be reading something in Italian, of course.
With the second job, the ‘evening’ lasts just an hour or so. But it’s late already, so the kids are slumped on the couch in front of the TV, or glued to their smartphones. Family chat time this is not. Which means Mom might as well be sat at the kitchen table with her Italian book or app…
Or, what about the other end of the spectrum? The older person, no dependant children, perhaps no longer works any sort of job, has enough money to not have to worry about paying the rent or putting food on the table, and yet… they still “don’t have time!”
I hear this a lot from pensioners, and to an extent suffer from it myself, being half self-employed, half unemployed.
My day just gets filled up with stuff to do! There are dishes to wash, meals to cook, shopping to do, the minimum half-hour of cardiovascular exercise so my body doesn’t seize up totally, emails to answer, relatives to Skype, bills to pay, kids and wife wanting help with stuff, it goes on and on!
Up at eight, bed at eleven, so in theory fifteen hours in between, no office to commute to, and yet I “don’t have time!”
Tips for myself:
- Review your priorities. Is whatever’s keeping you busy right now really more important?
- Be willing to work on different things over the course of a day.
- Switch activities regularly, so getting a break from Task 1 while making progress on Task 2.
- Plan when you’re going to do things, and stick to it.
- Don’t put off starting things because they might seem hard or unpleasant.
- Avoid being over-ambitious – failing to do everything on your list demotivates – better a shorter list, and a flush of success!
- But above all, don’t complain you “don’t have time”.
There’s always time.
Until there isn’t.
One thing I often struggle to find time to do is to listen to the thrice-weekly bulletins of ‘easy’ Italian news that our team publishes (for free!) at EasyItalianNews.com.
Sometimes I’m a day or two late, by which point it’s old news. But I do it anyway, always, and not because I’m learning Italian, but because I want to see what’s going out under the company’s name, what quality of work I’m getting for my money (donations usually cover our costs, but not always.)
If I was learning Italian, though, I’d make it a priority. As I do with listening to something in Swedish, Spanish and French each day (Turkish at weekends…) And, ideally, reading something in those languages, too.
You have access to a free resource like EasyItalianNews.com but don’t take full advantage of it?
Either your Italian is already too good, and you’re busy listening to/reading ‘authentic’ Italian. In which case, well done to you, goodbye and good luck!
Or you “don’t have time”. So scroll right up to the beginning of this article and read it again!