The language of busy is an interesting one. It’s the most accepted and expected response to a greeting of how are you? Or when people are asked about their work. They are, in one word, busy.
The world is busy and getting busier, there is no argument about that. People’s expectations are higher, we are accessible 24/7, the demand for delivery is ‘now’ and the amount of tasks we have to do is increasing. We seem to have to do more with what feels like less time and the pressure is on to get it all done. No wonder the busy word is one of the most commonly used words in the English language these days!
What are you really saying?
However, have you stopped for a moment to understand what you are really saying when you respond with busy? Have you considered what the translation actually is when you pick up the phone and apologise profusely for not calling the client back because you’ve been oh so busy? Or what you are really saying when you are too busy to catch up with your team member?
The translation is “You are not a priority”.
It’s as simple as that. A pretty poor message to be delivered to a client, your people, your family, your friends because no doubt the busy excuse has extended into all the areas of your life. It’s a convenient excuse, but a brutal one.
Is this what you really want to be saying?
It comes back to priorities
Because the fact is, what you prioritise you will do.
If the clients’ call was a priority, you would’ve called them back. If your team member was a priority you would’ve honoured your meeting time. If your child’s soccer match was a priority, you would’ve gotten there. What sits on the top of your priority list, whether on paper or in your mind, conscious or unconscious, you will do.
There is no doubt that there are situations where you can’t meet a commitment or have to shuffle things around or you’re late to something, but stop using busy as the excuse. Take responsibility for what is really happening and stop using the word as the excuse because it’s not a valid reason.
You may have seen the YouTube clip that was sweeping the world recently where Bill Gates and Warren Buffett talk about time and how we use it. It’s interesting to hear the discussion about a jam-packed schedule versus a schedule that is blank for days. Imagine that! You might think this is completely unrealistic and Warren Buffett can actually afford to not have anything scheduled for days – he’s a billionaire. This is true however; we all have a choice as to how we use our time and what our priorities are. We set that agenda, no one else.
We are missing out on so much opportunity to tell people what we are actually doing, the projects we are working on, how we are making a difference, the conversations we are leading, the impact we are making. Rather we bundle this all up in a word called busy, pack it in a box and tie it tightly with a bow, expecting others to ask questions to unpack what’s in the box.
So what do you do now?
Stop the lazy language. Stop using ‘busy’ as the excuse for missing commitments and be conscious of what you are really saying. It’s offensive and people are getting sick of it. Take responsibility. The fact is, you are no busier than anyone else – you might believe you are but that’s not true. Busy is relative and it’s a state of mind, not a state of being.