When did you last use ’I don’t have time’ as a reason for not doing something? We are all guilty of it occasionally, so at the beginning of this New Year we’re drilling down to understand our relationship with time and the impact it has on us.

Time is a great equaliser – 24 hours each day available to all of us, no matter who we are or where we live – and tips for improving time management have been a mainstay of business articles for decades.

The truth is, we have a choice over how we spend our time and when we feel that we don’t have enough of it or it is out of our control, what we are really experiencing is a lack of agency over our own decisions. Why? In our experience, it boils down to an absence of clarity.

When we take the time to get clear on our values, our goals, and what is important to us, we prioritise our time and activity much better. As we discuss in the first chapter of Core Confidence, “clarity requires being prepared to let go of options that are recognised as less important.”

There is a direct link between clarity and confidence – knowing exactly what we want enables the confidence to make decisions and act. Our decisions impact our outcomes, and it is what we prioritise that either expands our experiences or limits them.

With clarity and confidence, we are better able to manage the expectations of others and the challenging conversations that can arise when saying no to something. Knowing what is important and having the confidence to turn things down (remembering it is not necessarily forever, just right now) helps avoid the overwhelm that comes with always saying yes.

This clarity also means we recognise that when we say “I don’t have time” it is a choice. It is a choice not to do something else, and it is hard because it means we must take responsibility for that choice.

Reframing time management with choice management ensures we choose to do things that are personally meaningful. There is intrinsic motivation in this and by reframing in this way, we elevate and expand our choice menu, moving from an “I can’t” mindset to one of “how can I?” when making decisions on how to spend our time. Thinking creatively and not being shackled to standard practices can reveal opportunities – we just need the confidence that comes with focus to create them.

So after a tricky 2020 that threw us all off course, it’s time to create the confidence to jump in the driver’s seat, get clear on what is important and take control of how you spend your time in 2021.