How many times in a week does someone say to you – oh, I’m so busy. Usually this starts with – I’d love to help you, but I’m so busy. Sorry I can’t attend, I’m so busy.
Somehow saying I’m so busy has become the go-to excuse to get out of a work, volunteer and social commitments. But here’s the problem. Not only is it overused, it’s downright rude.
Why? Because it implies what’s being asked isn’t important. After all, as adults we all prioritize our time and will make room for what interests us.
Here are four reasons why you need to stop staying you’re so busy (and how it’s damaging your reputation).
My biggest beef with this phrase is the fact my internal voice always screams – and you think I’m not! I’m a self-employed entrepreneur, mom and wife raising two young kids, juggling a number of balls. I’ve got a lot on my plate too.
It immediately puts the other person’s back up.
Here’s a common scenario. A friend runs into you and says, let’s go for coffee soon. You say – I’d love to but I’m so busy. What the friend hears – I’ve got more important things to do than hanging out with you.
Instead, how about saying – that’s a great idea. My April is a bit of a gong show. Let’s find a time to grab that coffee in May when I have a bit more breathing room. What day works for you? Then set the coffee date so it’s in your calendar, just like any other appointment.
2. Makes You Look Scattered
I have one acquaintance who says this line every time I see her. As a result, I tend to view her as scattered, someone who doesn’t have her #$*& together.
Sure we all have our busy periods. But if your life is so busy you can’t find time to come up for air, something is wrong. Either you don’t know how to say no or you’re seriously lacking time management skills.
If your busyness is the reason why you are saying no to something, explain why. Right now I’m in final stages of working on a project and need to give it my full attention. Or, my family schedule is a bit hectic now and it doesn’t leave me a lot of room for personal time. But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Can we reconnect on this in two weeks?
3. Kills Relationships
Starting every conversation talking about how busy you are is a great way to kill relationships. It’s also a good way to stop being invited out or included to participate in projects.
Because you put up a wall between you and the person you are sharing your busyness with.
For me, I’d rather someone say, yikes this is a hectic time. How are you doing? I’m sure you’re running around with everything on your plate. How do you manage to keep all your balls in the air?
4. Damages Your Reputation
And finally, it comes down to your professional and personal reputation. The people who are seen as leaders or rock stars are the people who stay cool under pressure. They remain level headed and calm while everyone else is running in circles around them.
Wouldn’t you rather be James Dean than Sponge Bob? Calm cool and collected versus frantic and scattered?
In many of my workshops, I tell people to take a few deep breathes, collect your thoughts and focus on the matter at hand. Don’t let the situation overwhelm you. Rather concentrate working through the immediate issue before jumping to the next task.
Over the next week, I ask you to be aware of how you communicate with others – in person, on the phone, in emails and other correspondence. Are you being fully present or a bit scattered? When you feel tempted to say – I’m so busy, think of how else you can express yourself. And how is your busyness relevant to the other person?
And finally, if you truly are so busy that you’re blocking others out, how can you restructure your workload and calendar? What can you stop doing? Where can you get help to take some of the load off your plate?