Can you relate? I can. At one point or another, I’ve uttered those lines too or a variation. I wasn’t giving excuses but just stating a fact or maybe asking for some consideration (or pity?) when my plate was overflowing with commitments and obligations.
But I got so tired of being busy. Huh? I thought, “There must be a better way of saying things or getting to the point where things are manageable at least, and not very busy.”
Here’s what I learned and it’s not all good:
- Busy-ness or the state of being busy is increasingly getting glorified in our society these days. Somehow, people think that being busy gives the impression that they’re important or sought after.
- The busy excuse can give you an “out” on things like chairing an event, volunteering at your kid’s sports team or organizing your co-worker’s baby shower.
- People generally will leave you alone when you say you’re busy but they’ll start harboring some resentment.
So every time I think of uttering the B word, I utilize these tactics instead:
- Volunteer commitments: Draw boundaries. Be very specific about what you can do – where, when, how long, if you need additional help, etc.
- Social obligations: Same. Be clear about boundaries. Someone asks you to help out with a bridal shower, say something like, “I can order the cake and party favors, if you take care of ordering food/drinks/set-up/clean-up.” Never leave anything open-ended or it may end up being a day-long commitment, unless that’s what you want.
- Work: If it’s your boss, you probably don’t have much leeway, unless what you’re being asked to do is over and above your job description. If it’s one more task on your already mile-long to-do list, ask your boss what his/her top priorities are so you’re on the same page. If it’s a colleague, assess how much time the new project is going to take and be upfront. Say, “I can help you for about two hours on Friday after I finish my other task.”
Lastly, try to leave a lot of white space in your calendar. Don’t over-commit yourself. If you do, you’re just getting back on the same “busy wheel” again and tiring yourself out. It never ends.
What other tactics have you used to jump out of the “busy wheel” in your personal life and at work?