It is time to become unbusy. Why is the standard response to “How are you?” is “I’m so busy.” I want to stop thinking about my time as busy versus not busy. It is a choice I make to have my time be busy. I’ve really begun to despise the word busy. What is busy? What does it tell us? In our world today, busy seems to be the catchall. Invites to ballgames, brunches, kid parties, movies, drinks after work all sound like a great idea except we don’t want too. Instead of saying, No thank you. We say I’m busy. Busy says I’m too productive to participate in these activities. Busy says I’m too important to take time out of my day to interact with friends and acquaintances. Busy is an excuse. It is time to explore why we say busy all the damn time.
Once the words I’m busy are uttered, we are no longer in charge of our own time. It is too easy to feel overwhelmed when we don’t hold ourselves accountable for our time. I always think when someone says “I’ve been so busy” what they are really telling me is I’m talking to you, but I’m not really here. Their mind is already off on the next task, project, or tick on the to-do list. I’ve been reminded that busy is what happens in our heads and not necessarily what is happening in that moment
I thought blogging would be a breeze over the summer with the boys home every day. I told myself I could work around their schedules and still blog no problem. First, it was a simple, “Mom, will you play a game with us?” Then it was, “Let’s go to the pool.” Or, “Can I have a ride to my friend’s house?” Blogging got pushed back and pushed back. Summer was getting busy I told myself. Was it busy or was it how I was thinking about it? Busy was happening in my mind. Playing a game or spending a couple hours at the pool didn’t stop me from blogging. It was me thinking I’m too busy and not making it a priority.
That was my Oprah ah-ha moment. It was the time where I checked my thoughts and feelings. I’ve never liked saying I’m so busy before. But, I began to see how busyness could play tricks and it’s easy to fall into that same routine as everyone else. It was time to reframe my thinking. Busy can be reframed in different ways. The question “How are you?” is often an innocent question to start a conversation. Instead of “I’m busy” which can be rude and off-putting. The answer at work could be “I’m having a productive day.” Or you could tell friends, “I’m working on some really cool projects right now that I’m excited about.” It is time to stop the humblebrags of stating how busy we all are because newsflash every one of us has the same to-do list each morning that have our priorities listed out in some fashion. Calendars, personal assistants, alerts, Siri, Alexa, mental checklists, and the hand-written list.
It is great to have priorities to help you and your family lead productive lives. Does having priorities mean your busy? Not necessarily. It can say you have things to do that keep you and family active and engaged today. What happens if your child falls ill at school, health concerns for yourself or aging parents, or an urgent request from a dear friend. Will you reschedule your meetings? Will you fit these new priorities into your day? Will you find time for those closest to you? Of course, my thought is both you and I would do that in a heartbeat. We would reschedule our day. We would not say, “I can’t help, I’m too busy.” Our priorities would shift.
Priorities are healthy that keep us focused on our goals. Priorities are a choice. The right way to establish the priorities and productivity is, to be honest with ourselves and others. By saying, “I’m too busy” all the time diminishes others. It is a signal that the relationship is not important. I know that I don’t want any of my friends and family to feel like it is not worth their time to maintain a relationship, because I say “I’m too busy.” Those conflicts can be avoided by reframing the “I’m too busy” phrase.
It is all about being present with those that are in front of you. Busy can be reframed with changing out the word busy itself. One word answers to “How are you?” might be active, involved, engaged, productive, or captivated. Or it can be a way of thinking and feeling. Instead of moaning and groaning about I’m so busy. It might be, “I’m excited that I’m involved in all the good things that are happening in my life right now.” Fill in the blank for all those good things. Busy will never be able to take that into account.
All my best to you,