How to Avoid the “I Don’t Have Enough Time” Paradox

Move beyond the “overwhelm cycle” and be more strategic.

If you are a small business owner, you know how difficult it can be to add one more thing to your plate. There is never enough time in the day. You have to focus on your core business tasks while everything else is pushed to a later date and your long term goals become completely irrelevant.

When we talk to clients, we hear the “I don’t have enough time” statement more often than not. That statement is usually then paired with “I don’t have enough money”. The natural reaction to an overwhelming set of daily tasks and business needs is to dive in and get to work.

You may say to yourself “nothing will get done unless I just start doing it”.  You then rank the tasks, taking the most important item and begin working on it until it is complete. Then move on to the next one. As you complete one task more issues come up…more emails come into your inbox…and more customers need your support. Before you know it, you are dealing with a completely different set of issues than you had in the first place.

Stop right there! It’s time to take a step back.

That cycle that you are getting into is the Overwhelm CycleIt is a cycle that is ultimately destructive and never ending. However you can recognize when it is happening and move beyond it!

It is not that working hard and fast through a series of tasks is inherently a bad thing. Of course you need to work to get things done! The reason the path is a bad one is because you will never escape it! It will continue to be overwhelming until you burn out. You will become completely unproductive and uninspired.  You will then take a break, refresh your mind, and then do the same thing all over again.

We’ve all heard the cliche “Work smarter, not harder”.

People throw it out there all the time to give advice to others but rarely take that advice themselves. Even if you were to “Work Smarter”, what does that mean?  That’s not an actionable phrase. Working smarter for one business is not going to be the same for another business.

Let’s bring some clarity to this statement. Working smarter means to be strategic. Stop thinking like a worker bee. Pull your perspective to a higher level and form a strategy around what you need to get done. Working smarter is not some secret formula that only Elon Musk can figure out. Working smarter is simply doing something different than your automatic reaction to work. Taking the time to organize your thoughts, tasks and making your work more effective. It also means getting help.

Why is “I don’t have enough time” a paradox?

A paradox is defined as

a statement or proposition that, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory.


Your time is your choice. You decide what you do with it. When it comes to business, your time and resources are valuable. So, your choices for what to do with your time have higher stakes. When you are overwhelmed and you reject opportunities because you don’t have enough time, you are putting your own business in a bubble.

The only things that will get done are the things already within that bubble. Anything else is met with the statement “I don’t have enough time”. This prevents growth. This prevents productivity. Most importantly, this prevents opportunities to free up your time.

When you say “I don’t have enough time” you are assuming that everything you add to your plate is going to add more time instead of make more time. When you are saying “I don’t have enough time!”, you should be thinking “how can I be making time?”.


Author: Brent Hoffmann

Brent has a diverse background in graphic design, software development, and business strategy. With over 15 years of experience in the industry, he helps clients find solutions to technology problems, develop their content strategy and find ways to help them grow.

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