We’ve all said it. Most of us use this reasoning every single day. Rarely is it challenged, so there’s a level of acceptance by the other party, at least for the moment. It tends to shut most people up.
“I’d love to, but I’m too busy.” How many times have each of us used this excuse to get out of a social or work engagement that we really weren’t interested in attending? Sometimes it’s true, but often it’s the excuse most people have come to feel very comfortable using. Why do we always feel the need to quantify saying no?
The vast majority of people will tell you they have busy lives. And this is TRUE. But there are serious repercussions to constantly using the excuse or reason of being busy, even if it’s not obvious.
There was a woman I used to be friends with when I lived in Atlanta. She was a total blast to spend time with, but it was challenging to get on her schedule. She sincerely did have a fairly full plate, but whenever I would talk to her, there was often some amount of discussion about how much downtime she needed. The way each of us organizes our time is entirely up to us, so fair enough. However, hearing how busy she was on the constant, and finding it incredibly difficult to make plans with her, eventually caused me to stop trying. She eventually confronted me on why she hadn’t heard from me for awhile. I told her the truth, and she was highly defensive. The friendship didn’t survive, but I took away a very important lesson.
When you tell someone you’re busy over and over, they both believe you, but also receive the message that you’re too busy for them. And this is also fair, but the consequence is that most people don’t have much time or patience for that, and will move on, away from you. We all have to prioritize our time and energy. Often there are people who want our attention, and we simply don’t want to give it to them. But taking the ‘I’m too busy’ approach winds up being hurtful without being necessary.
So what can we do otherwise? What if there are people and opportunities we don’t want to go away, and our plates are truly overflowing? For starters, we can cease qualifying when we decide or have to say no. Instead, we can replace it with, ‘I can’t.’ It’s that simple. The sentence doesn’t need any additional information. So what to do if someone presses you with the question, ‘why’? That’s up to you. It’s a chance to be impeccable with your word. If it’s a case of actually being busy, that’s when you suggest an alternate date or request they ask you again when the next project or event comes along.
What if you are available, but you simply don’t want to?
‘I can’t’ works here too. We are not obligated to explain ourselves to every single person on this earth. This approach is so freeing! I have a life-long friend who has always understood this art, and he is one of the most respected people I know. Claiming busy for many is something that gets them out of having to just simply say no, or admit they’re not interested. If it pisses someone off, so be it. Decide you’re good with that, and keep it moving.
If you really do feel like you’re drowning in a sea of busyness, then employing some legit time management strategies is the best answer for you. Getting all up in the territory of honesty is the only way to go here. Identify where you waste time, and knock it off. Acknowledge the things you allow to suck your time, whether it be electronics, social media, or television, get real with yourself and insert methods that will give you potential hours back in your day.
We all recognize there’s no way to please everyone. But continuing to parade around with the busy badge will bring more ramifications than being honest and assessing where and how you can manufacture more time in the day. A more honest you will be a happier version of the already fabulous human you are. Give it a go, and please provide feedback in the comments section below.
By Lara Falberg
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