Q: “Hey, how are you?”
A: “Good, but busy.”
How many times in a week do you have a conversation that starts that way? If you are anything like me, more than you care to recall. It seems that being “busy” is now really just a status symbol that represents how important we are. It’s something that most of us do and I honestly think it’s gotten out of hand (speaking for myself here, y’all. #realtalk). So read on to see how I’m going to stop the busy trap.
Listen, there is no way to stop being too busy – life is busy. That is just a fact. But you can stop the busy trap – which is the idea that by constantly saying how busy you are it somehow validates you or your work. Here’s a few ways to start doing that:
- When someone asks you how you are doing, take five seconds, think about it and tell them about something specific that is happening in your life rather than giving a rout “too busy” answer. Here’s an example: “hey, how are you?” “oh, I’m good. I am presenting at a conference in Chicago this week and am so excited for visiting the home of deep dish pizza” (perhaps this is something I said today. I mean, pizza is good, no judgment).
- If you constantly find yourself thinking that you are too busy (I’m raising my hand here) take a step back and actually chart your time. When I do this, I discover that actually when I really focus on completing tasks as opposed to stopping to check email / facebook / etc., I’m quite efficient. I like to work in 45 minute chunks and then take a stretch / social media / snack break. This might not work for you, but looking at how you are actually spending your time may reveal that you are not quite as busy as you imagined.
- When someone responds with “busy” when you ask how they are, follow up with a question / comment like this: “Yes, life is so busy. What are you really looking forward to this month?” This acknowledges that they are feeling overwhelmed and gives them the chance to shift that into actually talking about something fun that is going on with them.
- Commit to not saying the word busy in reference to yourself for a week. Just try it. I’m in the middle of trying to do this now and I’ll admit, it’s tough. “Busy.” It just seems to roll right off my tongue and in fast paced DC, people actually are busy. But that’s not the point. The point is that, like I mentioned earlier, life is busy. But that busyness isn’t a badge or honor nor should it be.
Do you fall victim to the busy trap? Have you ever tried to stop being “too busy?” How’d it go?