It’s Not a Lack of Time

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I know what you want. You want more me time.

A lucky few have the luxury of time, and even then, many give away their power to control it.

You can’t walk in a bookstore, see a magazine or surf the net without finding tips, tricks, techniques and “guaranteed!” solutions on time management. A quick Google search yielded 493 million results.

The truth is, having more time is not the problem. It is an excuse. Or as I like to call it – a big but. We all have many buts, both big and small. Lack of time is hands down the biggest but of all.

If your lack of time and all of your other buts are just excuses, then what is really going on? What is stopping you from doing the things you want to do?

Here’s what is really keeping you from doing what you love. When you dismiss all the big buts, you are left with one, two or all three of these stumbling blocks:

a lack of desire

failure to take action


Let’s debug this.

If you truly want more me time to do the thing you love, you need to start by asking yourself the tough questions:

1. Is this what I really, deeply, passionately want to do with my time?

2. If it is, then why don’t I get my butt out of the chair and go do it?

3. Is it really just that I am afraid?

  • afraid I won’t be good at it?
  • afraid I’ll fail?
  • afraid it will take me away from something else?
  • afraid I’ll love it so much I won’t want to stop?
  • afraid I ____________?

This debug process is exactly how I handled my problem. I wasted 40+ years due to fear and failure to take action. It was making me miserable. I blamed it on my lack of time until I discovered that wasn’t really the problem at all. 

I have plenty of help for you on how to find more time in your day for the things you love (and I’ll be sharing them with you soon.) But they won’t do you any good until you get to the root of what’s stopping you. And I say this with love.

Use your Daily 5 (minutes) this week to figure it out. Share any Aha moments, thoughts or questions with me in the comments section. I’m standing by.

PS. Let me know if your Daily 5 have grown to 10, 15 or more.

Photo from art et cancrelats


  1. Lesley, you speak to my heart and soul. This procrastinating forever is really now a race against time. I will soon be 72. I have tons of supplies for everything under the sun. I just don’t even know where to start. For the past few weeks, a few times I have headed up to my studio (which is so cluttered with messes from projects of the past) and done some simple stitching, painting, etc. It always feels good to be doing something. But then it’s back to my everyday life. I’m on committees, a board for a free medical clinic, a social justice committee through my parish and I wouldn’t give up any of these. But I want and need to find time and motivation to “just do it” once again. Otherwise, someone is going to inherit a lot of great supplies down the road at an unknown time! HELP!!!! How to get out of this rut . . . it is really weighing me down.

    • Lesley Riley says:

      Thank you Maeve. Bring some of your stitchings downstairs. Work where you are, stitch at committee meetings. It’s all about staying in flow. I’ll be having more info on the techniques for getting more art in your day soon.

    • While it isn’t exactly like that for me, what Maeve said resonates as I am also in my 70s with a LOT of art materials. Every so often I go through it all (with the help of someone who cares) and when I get in actual contact with these things it makes a difference. It re-establishes communication with the things and then I decide yes or no, shall I do something with them or pass them on as I no longer care to do this?
      I do think about who I’d want to get all my stuff, but then I think, let’s get busy (busier) and do something with it myself!

  2. Jeann in Australia says:

    Lesley, You must be psychic. I am president of our local quilting group and yesterday I wrote my president’s letter for our newsletter. The topic was about losing my motivation. My excuse is not lack of time as I spend a lot of time sitting around and reading. I have a great north facing studio and lots of various “requirements” to work on projects. I found your article thought provoking and the comments interesting. I am going to have a talk to myself!

    • Lesley Riley says:

      Shhh – but yes, I am psychic. And I love to read too, but never get enough time for all the books waiting for me. Let me know what you learned from talking with yourself.

  3. I have the same experience as Eileen only it was not a child that moved on it was my husband that died. The children are grown and the 5 grandchildren are mostly in college. My time is my own, yet I had a hard time getting myself motivated to “create”.

    I am an art quilter, I create art figures and I have a printmaking studio. I have a large collection of supplies for each activity in a dedicated area.

    I think the best incentive to get myself creating was to set up gallery exhibits (one to two per year) with deadlines that I had to meet. I made a schedule of projects and ideas that I wanted to complete with deadlines for finishing whatever I created.

    It really works! After all when you tell your friends about the upcoming exhibits you can’t very well decide not to follow through. My friends are my biggest supporters now.

    Also if you can’t motivate yourself, find one creative friend and work together. Or form a creative group (2 or more) that share artistic ideas and techniques with each other and this will generate “creative enthusiasm”. Creative ideas will just explode (be sure to write these down in a book) Have regular meetings with your artsy friends, take trips to galleries, art, quilt, needlework or craft shows or attend workshops. Make up challenges with your creative pals with deadlines. Follow these ideas and soon you will have yourself working at what you most enjoy and actually turning out a finished product. Schedule yourself to do something everyday, whether it is for 10 minutes or 1 hour or more. Just play at creating something or using a technique. Anyway just have FUN!

    • Lesley Riley says:

      Joan! Thanks for sharing so much with us here. Yes, making a commitment and making it public is a great incentive. You’re suggestions of a creative ally/allies is so helpful too. I couldn’t have said it better.

  4. Lesley, I also have struggled with “getting on with my creative life”! But over the last eighteen months, my journey with cancer surgery, chemo and slow recovery have changed my perspective of time, a gift I had always taken for granted. I now measure progress by inches rather than yards, and have learned to trust that the energy I need will come and allow me to focus on being productive. Your newsletters always spur me on to push against the inclination to procrastinate, and I am really looking forward to meeting you in person when you are in Australia later this year.

    • Lesley Riley says:

      I respect and admire your trust and creative spirit that has gotten you thought cancer, Louise. I truly look forward to meeting you in AU. What a blessing for us.

  5. Carolyn Felmingham says:

    Hi Lesley,
    Thank you for sending me off to work on Friday with something to think about while I am packing Hot Cross Buns. I often think about what it is that is holding me back. I have all the gear and no idea what I want to do. It seems when I am busy my mind is racing with things I want to create. Then when I do get the time I go blank or just don’t know what to do first. I do know I need to get off my butt. But????

    • Lesley Riley says:

      I want a Hot Cross Bun! Mmmm. Stay tuned for some ideas and techniques on how to get started. And thanks for your comment.

  6. Dear Lesley,

    I love the way the Universe presents Herself in support. This is timely for me for a few reasons.
    As of now, I am at the beginning of a new book of my life. It is different than being in a new chapter. It is a new book if I am willing to allow that which will unfold to arise from within and present itself.

    It is not about trying to figure it out with the mind, rather to allow the space all around me and within to show me, through image, insight, intuition while following the inner directive… my dance partner…

    My daughter having traveled for various lengths of time in the past, left me with a feeling of loss for a few days as my energy adjusted to her lack of physical presence. Even though I missed her, I was happy for her adventurous spirit.

    This is an entirely different. I’m not sure I can find the words to convey exactly what I mean. When she told me that her job is taking her out of the country, I felt like the energy of being a mother in the way I have known it to be is complete. It is not about the empty nest syndrome, I’ve been through that. It is like I’m being unplugged from the mother archetype in the way that I’ve lived it in every aspect of my life.

    When she first told me, that her job was taking her to live outside the country, I was flat out on the chesterfield for two days. I was totally shocked at the level that her experience had on me. Dryers have a big plug that are connected into the wall outlet. It felt like a running dryer, being unplugged from that energy circuitry, never to be the same.

    I am happy for her, happy that she lives her life fully and now way deep down beyond image at the moment, I feel new stirrings.

    Waiting, watching, feeling, writing, dancing it, painting, letting go and moving as the inner directive presents, the NEW is created.

    • Lesley Riley says:

      I love the Universe’s timing too, Eileen! How exciting to be at the beginning of a new book. I love the process of awakening to our selves. It can be sad and confusing at times but oh the joys…

  7. Cathe Ekas says:

    Dear Lesley, This is the problem I have been dealing with for the last 5 years. I have been creative my whole life. Embroidery at 7, Knitting at 10, Sewing my own clothes at 12, all kinds of Needlework at 19, opened my own needlework & crafts store at 27. Learned to quilt @35 – approx. 30years ago. I was great at all of them. I taught needlework and quilting for years. But, when I decided I wanted to do Mix-media and paint, I bought everything under the sun and have done nothing. No matter what I tell myself, I still do nothing. My husband built me a beautiful art room, overlooking the river, hoping that would motivate me, still Nothing. I finally realized that I don’t want to do Art Journaling like a lot of girls I follow. But, I haven’t decided what I do want. I know I can go back to quilting but it seems like such a waste of money on art supplies. I really don’t know if it is Fear or I just don’t want to do it. I have been using the 3 morning pages per Julia Cameron, hoping I would find the answer there. So, I am doing more than 5 minutes of soul searching. I know you don’t have the answer But I guess I just needed to vent since this is the topic. I can’t be the only one. Thanks for letting me share.

    • I’ve been in the same place as you are Cathe. I would find a new creative thing to try and after spending money on supplies, I’d feel guilty when I didn’t want to pursue that particular creative endeavor any further. I realized that I wouldn’t have found the many things I DO love doing if I hadn’t tried them, spent the money, etc. and view all these as part of my learning process. Then I found someone who could use the supplies I bought, or I donated them (many assisted living facilities will gladly take these types of items and people don’t think to donate them). Then I moved on. I think of how blessed I am to have the ability to buy supplies, as that hasn’t always been the case, and hopefully they benefit someone else as I pass them on.

    • Lesley Riley says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience and insight, JJ. Great idea on the assisted living donation.

    • Lesley Riley says:

      Hi Cathe. I think a lot of those who commented back to you have excellent suggestions, especially JJ’s donation of supplies. I would like to add – just in that beautiful studio and do some stitch meditations like Liz Kettle does – Get the hands busy and the ideas, inspiration and desire will come. It most often only comes when you are DOING – not thinking or writing about it.