Are You Giving Away Your Time?

Written by on October 19, 2017 in Accountability


Time management is not a topic I normally dip my toes into, so allow me to declare up front that I am no “expert” when it comes to systems, strategies or recommending the latest and greatest gadget for organizing your life.

But then it’s not like there’s a shortage of advice on this topic. Thousands of pages have been written about managing your time – books, reports, articles, and then there’s video and workshops that inevitably play to packed rooms.

And yet, can you guess the most common excuse I hear when it comes to why someone isn’t doing the things they know they should to fulfill a dream or create a better life?

I don’t have time!

Time management is an oxymoron. Time is beyond our control, and the clock keeps ticking regardless of how we lead our lives. Priority management is the answer to maximizing the time we have. ~John C. Maxwell

Sometimes All You Need is a New Perspective

Systems and gadgets are great, but they are just tools and while this may seem ridiculously obvious it needs to be said …YOU are the key to making it all work.

You are the one who says yes or no to the demands on your time; the one who knows what matters most when it comes to creating the quality of life you desire for you and your family.

The bottom line is that no matter how many things you manage to cram into an hour if you’re not doing the right things for the right reasons you will continue to feel time-starved.

Try answering the following questions for a quick reality check:

  • What are your 5 most important values?
  • What are your 5 highest life priorities?

And here’s where the rubber meets the road …

  • Does the way you use your time on a daily basis consistently reflect these priorities and values?

If you struggle to answer these questions, and there are more days than you care to admit where you feel like your life’s not your own, then maybe it’s time for a new perspective.

Instead of saying ‘I don’t have time’ try saying ‘it’s not a priority,’ and see how that feels. Often, that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don’t want to. But other things are harder. Try it: ‘I’m not going to edit your resume, sweetie, because it’s not a priority.’ ‘I don’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.’ If these phrases don’t sit well, that’s the point. 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. ~Laura Vanderka

On Reclaiming Your Time

Clarifying values and determining your highest life priorities are critical elements in establishing your personal foundation and provide you with a compelling reason for choosing the best use of your time.

The challenge for most people is how to remain true to those priorities on a day-to-day basis because no matter how great the system or plan, they find themselves repeatedly dealing with an all too familiar stumbling block.

The very real sense that despite their best efforts they lack control, that they spend an excessive amount of time reacting to the demands and behavior of others.

This is what it means to give your time (and energy) away.

They may not consciously realize it, probably didn’t intend it … and they certainly didn’t come by it naturally.

You had to give it to them.

And here’s where we stray into an area rarely included in the typical list of time management strategies – the critical role boundaries play in protecting your time.

If this surprises you take a moment to consider that the fundamental concept of boundaries is choosing not to give your time and energy away to things and people that prevent you from living a full and rewarding life.

In other words, it’s about doing the right things, for the right reasons.

How Boundaries Protect Your Time

We need to begin with an important point of clarification.

In my workshops, I’ve found that many people harbor a one-dimensional view of boundaries as a method to keep someone from bothering them or to distance themselves from toxic people, including annoying or tactless relatives.

Boundaries allow us to care for ourselves in a way that fosters confidence and integrity, they enable us to make room to grow and nurture our most important relationships, not to mention our own well-being.

To better understand the role this concept plays in protecting your time let’s take a quick look at the difference between weak and healthy boundaries.

Weak Boundaries (also known as Unhealthy or simply “no” boundaries)

  • You struggle to say no due to fear of rejection or abandonment.
  • You take on other’s problems as your own.
  • You have a high tolerance for abuse or being treated with disrespect.
  • You tend to absorb the feelings of others.
  • You regularly put other people’s needs before your own.
  • You rely on others opinions, feelings and ideas more than you do your own.
  • You compromise your values and beliefs to please others or to avoid conflict.

Healthy Boundaries

  • You can say “no” without guilt and you are okay when others say “no” to you.
  • You have a strong sense of identity. You respect yourself and value your time.
  • You don’t tolerate abuse or disrespect.
  • You are responsible for your own happiness and fulfillment.
  • You value your opinions and feelings as much as those of others.
  • You know your limits and you allow others to define their own limits.
  • You are able to ask for help when you need it.
  • You don’t compromise your values or integrity to avoid rejection.

These examples make it fairly obvious that committing to establish healthy personal boundaries is not a quick fix; it is a lifestyle choice.

Is it worth the effort?

Only you can answer that question, but try to think of it this way. Boundaries are about so much more than learning to say ‘no’, they serve as the line in the sand separating a joyfully fulfilling life from one that is regretfully stressed and overloaded.

Your time and energy are precious. You get to choose how to use it. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept. ~Anna Taylor

Closing Thoughts

I’ve taken you on a bit of a journey from our starting point in an effort to challenge you to consciously shift your perspective on time from a resource to gauge your level of productivity to a precious commodity with a limited shelf life.

And just as with the systems and gadgets, YOU are the key to making it all work and that requires your energy and passion and the process must be undertaken as though your life depends on it … because it does.

Related reading:
One day or day one. It’s up to you.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living click here.


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  1. Learning to say “no” has been an ongoing struggle for me. I have always prided myself on not having to have limitations. But then it reaches a point that I am focused on an important project, like my Women and Love Virtual Summit, and I have no choice but to set clear boundaries. When I have a deadline and an important goal, my boundaries are clear but when I am caught off guard, my instinct is to want to please others. That is my challenge, to protect my time, my values and my emotions.

    • There’s no question we’re talking an ideal Dr. Erica because I think it’s normal and all-too-human to have weak spots. I certainly have a few of my own, but I think what matters is that we limit those weak spots so that we can still maintain some sort of healthy balance. Great to see you and thanks for sharing your thoughts with us! 🙂

  2. Janice Wald

    Hi Marquita,
    I work outside the home, blog, and have a family. They are ALL priorities. How to prioritize the priorities? My family, but we need income, so my job, but the blog pays too, and I need money for the blogging bills, so sleep goes the way of the wind…

    • I see your dilemma, in fact, I’ve lived it. But as you continue to put your own well-being on the backburner you might want to ask yourself what would happen to your family and those business obligations if you suddenly found yourself in a position where you couldn’t work. I sincerely hope that never happens to you, but working to survive takes its toll over time in surprising and not always pleasant ways. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, my best to you! 🙂

  3. Donna Merrill

    Hi Marquita,

    What an excellent article! I used to have a huge problem of saying “no” and prioritized others before myself. But that was then and this is now. It took a while for me to understand this concept, but with some practice and understanding, I was able to say that two letter word. It was a freeing moment the first time I said it.

    Now I have no problem with it. I do value my time and my private time. If someone tries to “barge in” I politely tell them no or not at this time.

    I’m free!

    Donna Merrill recently posted…How To Be A Genuine Blogger Who People LoveMy Profile

  4. William Rusho

    What a great post, for it seems like we never have time for anything. Remember the days when we were young, and it seemed like the days were endless. Now, I get done from work, and poof, the rest of my day seems to be gone. Thanks for the tips, I hope I can reclaim some of my time back.

  5. Chery Schmidt

    Hello Marty! Yikes! I do struggle with that NO Thing! This is something I have been working on for years! I feel I am getting better, yet still have a ways to go!

    I have to admit “I don’t have the time” is not part of my vocabulary, I do know I have been taking on more then I can handle! Once again my friend your post has been and eye opener for me..

    Thanks for sharing.
    Chery :))
    Chery Schmidt recently posted…Are You Ready To Jump Start Your Passion?My Profile

    • I’m so glad you found some worthwhile tidbits in the post Chery, and keep working on managing that “no” issue because that is directly linked to taking on more than you can handle my friend. 🙂

  6. Edward Thorpe

    Hi Marquita,

    You consistently knock my socks off with your posts. Your writing style just somehow fits the receptors I’ve developed over the years.

    This post, about knowing your priorities and living them, could save many people pain and unhappiness – if they’d heed your realistic advice/observations.

    I remember how scary it is when you 1st practice exercising your rights to live for yourself. Yet, it must be done! Saying ‘it’s not a priority for me’, is a smart response.

    The quote by Laura Vanderka was very insightful! Thanks,
    Edward Thorpe recently posted…Synthetic Plastic Microbits Pouring Out Of Municipal Tap WaterMy Profile

  7. Great sentence: Does the way you use your time on a daily basis consistently reflect these priorities and values?

    If I don’t align my day that way, I’m sad & frustrated at the end of the day. So much better when I start out and stay on those priorities.

  8. Unfortunately I had very unhealthy boundaries from years of living in an unhealthy relationship and I struggle so much to say no for fear of being rejected, it is something I am working on now with the help of therapy as my life is important too

  9. Sonal Talwar

    Hi Marquita
    Excellent post! Loved it!

    Well my unhealthy boundaries are that I take up other’s problems as my own and secondly I am unable to say no.

    Thanks for this wonderful post!
    Sonal Talwar recently posted…Peruvian Superfoods: Healthy fuel for body enter Indian marketMy Profile

  10. Hi Marquita,

    I learned a lot from this post, but there is one that stand out, and that is knowing my priorities and focusing my energy and time on them.

    We feel we wasted time when we spend precious time on activities that don’t help in achieving our goals. If we spend time on things that really matter to us, we would never feel that our time is wasted.

    To spend our time as we ought to spend it, self-discipline is a critical tool we must employ. We must learn to do the things we ought to do at any given time and not doing the things we feel like doing.

    Thanks for sharing.

  11. Joyce Hansen

    As they say, you hit the nail on the head when you say that time management is an oxymoron. It gives you a false sense of control and the daily planner becomes an arbiter of the quality of your life. By linking priorities and boundaries, you’ve taken away the time pressure and established “quality” time for the important things. This is a much better way to look at time than time management.
    Joyce Hansen recently posted…Financial Stress Dumbs Down Your BrainMy Profile

  12. Phoenicia

    Excellent post Marquita and right up my street.

    I once read “we prioritise what is important to us” and believe this to be true. As busy as we are, if we want to meet up with a friend we will and if we are not bothered either way then we will not go out of our way to make it happen.

    We may have 50 tasks to complete but on any given day, only 5 to 10 are of paramount importance. Our job is to identify what to hold, what to lay to rest until tomorrow and what to let go of completely.
    Phoenicia recently posted…Get some order in your life!My Profile

  13. Elise Cohen Ho

    I love your tips on reclaiming your time. Overall, I think I do well but I see there is room for improvement.
    Elise Cohen Ho recently posted…Fall Into Health With The Whole PurposeMy Profile

  14. I always lived by healthy boundaries. UNTIL my husband got sick with vascular dementia. That changed everything. I have no choice in the fact that caregiving has taken over my life. The good news is that he is on a short list for a personal care home, and then hopefully, I can go back to being a healthy wife with a life rather than a very tired caregiver.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy helps chocolatiers learn and growMy Profile

    • What a stressful time this must be for you Doreen. I hope everything works out for you and your husband very soon. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. 🙂

  15. Jeri

    I definitely fritter a lot of time away, and it’s a constant process to ask if I am living and doing business in alignment with my core values. I’m going to a talk in November on that very topic.

  16. Mark

    A very important question indeed M!

    And sadly, in far to many cases, the truthful answer is, a resounding yes.LOL!

    I love your phrase, ‘normally dip my toes.’

    Sadly, it seems like more times than not, we have a tendency to allow others, to dip into our normally set aside time.LOL!

    And as a direct result, we often whined up, placing others priorities over our own.

    And once you go down this road, it’s awfully hard to stop.Thanks for clarifying the distinction between, not really having enough time and effective time management!
    Mark recently posted…How And Why Your Business Will Succeed With The Right Automation!My Profile

    • Well said Mark! It’s a balancing act to be sure. For most of us it’s human nature to want to be helpful, but somewhere along the line we need to find balance and that is a challenge for everyone. Thanks!

  17. Suzie Cheel

    Marty I love this and I recognize my old unhealthy patterns that i have changed to healthy ones. When you are the person people see as Suzie will do this , I have learned the hard way to say no so when I have to say yes to me I have the space. Life is much happier and healthier. xxx
    Suzie Cheel recently posted…Goals Or Dreams? One or Both?My Profile

  18. Vatsala Shukla

    Between Time Bandits and Energy Vampires, maintaining clear boundaries and staying focused on my priorities helps me manage my time, Marquita.

    For sure sometimes events happen that make the priority list redundant but that should only be a temporary phenomenon. If we are wasting time, then we need to ask ourselves the why question and work on it.
    Vatsala Shukla recently posted…3 Success Secrets hidden in the Ramayana on Lord Rama’s Hero JourneyMy Profile

  19. Sue Kearney says:

    Switching from “I don’t have the time” to “that’s not a priority” is everything. Starting from taking ownership of your actions and decisions. I’ve been watching myself take on a few too many big commitments lately, and putting on my big-girl panties about how I’m managing my energy — while difficult — is saving me from being overspent and exhausted.


  20. This is so well written Marquita, It’s truly excellent. I especially like your take on the role of boundaries and specifically for me, emotional boundaries is something I struggle with. Thank you for this great reminder and to give us tools to equip ourselves for being more productive and feel better about what we do and how we do it.

  21. Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Marquita,

    Excellent. I love your take.

    I feel we make take for what we value. Those values are clear, simple and easy to read; even if you don’t like how you are spending your time, the proof is in the choices you make.

    As for interactions with folks, I limit all interactions save interviews or client calls to a few minutes. Only because I am always meeting new people and working off of a clock keeps me acting in abundant way, making an impact but also helping folks and yep, offering my time pretty equally to all people I come across.

    Thanks for sharing Marquita.

    Ryan Biddulph recently posted…BFP Podcast Episode 30: What to Do if Your Guest Post Pitches Are IgnoredMy Profile

    • Hey Ryan, thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with us, always appreciated! I’m glad you found value in the post, it felt even to me as though I was taking the reader on a bit of a journey but hopefully it gets across the point that making the most of our time is about more than clock watching and the latest greatest app. Thanks!

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