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  • Writer's pictureLinda Calvin

Hi, My Name is I'm So Busy!

Hi, My Name is I'm So Busy!

So often we use the excuse of "I'm busy" to explain a missed deadline, for not returning a message, for skipping a meeting or lunch. Let's stop and think for a moment about the definition of busy. According to the Merriam-Webster (M-W) dictionary, the term busy is defined as "full of activity or work." Now, let's explore the definition of work. According to M-W, the definition of work is "sustained physical or mental effort to overcome obstacles and achieve an objective or result." For most of us, this is what we are doing every day at our place of business, the workplace. We are BUSY achieving objectives or results.

At this point, you may be wondering: why all the emphasis and definition of terms? Because in our personal and professional lives, we have come to glorify the term "busy." How often do we say, "I'm going to be late to this meeting because I'm busy" or "I didn't return your message because I'm so busy"? Somehow being "busy" has become the catchall excuse for simply not acknowledging a person, need or task. We somehow have become numb to the real meaning behind our usage of "busy" and many times, without malice, use "busy" to glorify our own priorities above all others. After all, aren't we ALL busy? Is your "busy" more glamorous or more impactful than my "busy?"

As professionals, I think we all should stop for a moment, evaluate our priorities and Instead of saying "I'm busy," let's say, "I cannot _____ (insert action) right now, I have a competing priority, can we select another date or time?" Or "I apologize, I do not mean to suggest your time is less important, I must do _____, but as soon as I am able, I will follow up with you. Let's talk in _____ (20 minutes, two hours, later this evening, three days, six weeks). Will that work for you?"

Another consideration, as it relates to work life, is to ask the question of our colleagues, managers, or leaders, "what is the priority?" Oftentimes we are asked to juggle many priorities, all of them being #1s. But are they? Perhaps it's time to sit down with your clients or your boss and ask respectfully, "Can you coach me on what's going to keep you up at night so I can prioritize my workload accordingly? I'm having a hard time right now determining where you need most of my energy."

And from a personal perspective, let's be honest with our friends and family. Instead of saying, "oh, I'm busy," define a time when that person can have our attention. If anything else, and we cannot find a legitimate reason to decline a call or visit that will not seem offensive, get creative! I call this Creative Excusery.

EXAMPLE: "I'm so sorry I didn't respond to your message. Samuel L. Jackson called last night, he needs me to star in one of his films." (After all, he truly is in everything). Or "I'm sorry, I can't meet with you tonight, I'm auditioning for a superhero position with the Avengers." Or "Dang, I can't make it, I got caught feeding my asparagus to the dog last night and I'm sooo grounded!" Twerking injury, sudden onset coma by watching Kocktails with Khloe Kardashian, get creative and really, just have fun with it!

Whatever we do, let's show our colleagues, employees, friends and family their time matters. Let's be honest or at least creative. Let's stop glorifying busy!

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