You’re busy, right? Have a lot on your calendar this week, month, year? Just don’t have the time? When anyone asks more of you, you quickly respond with your various reports of busyness, too much to do, and not enough time.
Well, saying that you’re “too busy” is an excuse. Yes, I know you’re thinking, “yeah right, you don’t know me or what I have going on in my life.” You’re absolutely right about two things here: I don’t know you personally, and I don’t know what you have on your plate. But there is a third aspect that I am still correct about: your common response of being “too busy” all the time is a flat-out, escape driven, excuse. And people are tired of hearing it. Why? Because we are all busy and have things to do in our lives.
Busy is a time filler. Busy is the quick response to portraying yourself as too productive to participate in something. Busy is the response we give when we really don’t want to do or commit to something, instead of just saying NO. Busy is the answer we provide when we want to avoid something or someone, instead of just making time another day or telling the truth: that we don’t want to associate or interact with them. Busy is an excuse, everyone. Busy is the common response for appearing too important. We’ve got to evaluate this a bit.
Busy is a choice. Sure, you may have 10 meetings today that will take you all day to complete. Does this mean you are “busy” today? Not necessarily. It means that you have things to do today. But if something else comes up that requires your attention, you shift your priorities for the day, right? A sick child, family issues, health concerns, injuries, personal needs, emergencies, and urgent requests from others are all examples of things we will “fit into” or “reschedule” our day altogether when necessary. Can you see where I’m going with this?
Having a lot to do is part of life, a good productive life. This is the purpose of calendars, to-do lists, personal assistants, reminders, etc. We should want to fill our days and time with productive engagements and opportunities. However, when we confuse productivity with busyness, then we are creating a crutch and excuse for the things that we should just say, “I don’t have time for that right now”, or “I do not want to do that”. Instead, “I’m too busy” is our opt out free card, because nobody can argue with your busyness speech.
There is nothing wrong with creating and maintaining our priorities. In fact, this is very healthy to do. But the right way to establish our priorities and productivity is to be honest with ourselves and others, because saying you’re “too busy” all the time actually dismisses others. It signals to them that you have no room or desire to make time for them, and this will break down even the best relationships. But if we are honest with the people around us, then we can avoid this conflict.
Here are three ways you can be certain that you are abusing the “I’m busy” statement:
- You respond to someone, just about everyday, with the “I’m too busy” line. Rather than look at your calendar, or move some obligations around in order to accommodate the request, you quickly shut it down with the “too busy” line.
- You know that you’re saying, “I’m too busy” to avoid saying what’s really going on. You know that you have no intention of interacting or connecting with the person requesting your time, but instead of politely declining and speaking your truth, you keep avoiding the real issue.
- People around you answer the question before you do. Children are really keen at this. When you are asked to do something, before you can respond, you hear “but I know you’re too busy” from the asker. You start having these type of communications way too often, and it’s frustrating.
Now can you see why “I’m too busy” is an excuse? It is a buffer, a superficial screen to protect you from the risk of disappointing someone, or yourself. Being honest can give you the freedom and peace of mind that you need to remain engaged in the activities you want to do and with the people who mean the most to you.
If you have read this article and can see yourself using the excuse of busyness all too often, you’re not alone. We are all guilty of it, so we just need to become conscious of it and begin to determine if we are abusing the phrase and making excuses. Saying you’re busy once in a while might just be true, but if it is, then make time for the requested person or opportunity at another time. Don’t just dismiss others, appearing to be “too important” to spend time with them. Nobody likes to be on the receiving end of that communication.
Maybe it’s time to shift some priorities and deadlines around. If you find yourself unable to spend time with the people you love and the things that you’re most passionate about doing, then are you really enjoying life anyway? It may be time to reestablish some personal and professional boundaries. And believe me, this is possible regardless of the schedule and demands upon you. But you will need to be intentional about it.
Message here: we all have the same 24 hours within a day, it’s a matter of how we decide to use our time. If you’re “too busy” for life and people, all the time, then you may not be using your 24 hours in the best way possible.
Realign your time and priorities with what is most important to you and stop reporting your busyness level.