There is a dirty four letter word in the English vocabulary that makes me cringe every time I hear it.
It’s defined as “having a great deal to do”, yet for some reason, a lot of people use busy as an appropriate response to the question “how are you?” Even though, it in no way describes how you are. Unless of course you are feeling out of control or overwhelmed!
These days, I feel that busy is being used by people as a way of demonstrating to others their value or worth. These people wear busy as some sort of badge of honour and believe that the busier you are the more important or successful you must be.
There is no denying that we’re all busy. The expectations on us are always increasing (self-inflicted or otherwise). But here’s something to think about, you’re probably no busier than the person next to you and there are other people, who are actually busier than you – even if they don’t have kids, aren’t employed full-time or aren’t an elite athlete.
I constantly come across people, who feel inclined to tell me how busy they are, how much work they have to get through, or the reasons why they haven’t had any time to get back to my email or phone call. Of course, I empathise with their situation but all this really confirms to me is how low on their priority list I am or how unproductive they must be. See that’s the thing with busy, it doesn’t equate to productivity, which requires skill.
There are also people, who are afraid of not being busy, for fear that their role may be made redundant. This doesn’t help when corporates recognise those who work late or on weekends unnecessarily. Personally, I prefer to applaud those able to get their work done in the hours allocated and don’t take their laptops home each day. To me these people are productive, efficient and effective, and drive a results-based culture.
The next time you are about to say you are busy, have a think about what this is costing you. It may close doors. You may miss out on opportunities because people don’t think you have the capacity to take on any more or worse still, they may be led to think that you aren’t able to manage your time. Labelling yourself as busy can also disconnect you from your colleagues or team, who may choose not to approach you because they think you are busy. This can be incredibly unhelpful if you are a leader and potentially detrimental to prospective clients.
And the same can be said for your friends. If you are regularly telling them that you are too busy to meet, return their texts or calls, they may eventually stop reaching out altogether. Your failure to engage leaves the impression that they are just not that important to you.
I think it is time that we let go of busy, its potency has been lost and its glory days are well and truly over.