“I’m Busy”: said and heard it enough already?


I’m not sure if this is a recent trend, but it certainly seems to be a growing one. Lately whenever I ask someone: “How are you?” the answer is a resounding, exasperated: “Busy!”

There is a glorification in the word busy – as if it is a badge of honor, something to be proud of. Does being busy mean that we’re important? Does it mean that we are in-demand? On the contrary, it usually means that we are overwhelmed, stressed out, and agitated.

Thomas Edison said: “Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”

Busy connotes that we have not just a lot to do, but too much to do. While “busy bees” are focused on one task, making honey, busy humans are generally more scattered, trying to keep up while typically falling behind. When we’re busy we tend to have our attention divided in an effort to multitask and get things done.

For a moment, let’s put all that “busy” aside and consider how being busy affects our relationships. Since our first relationship is with ourselves, how does this “busy” label feel? Anything that follows the words “I am” defines us. Do you think a busy person is more valued or valuable? Is a busy person more worthwhile or worthy? Why do you choose to define yourself as busy? We need to deeply understand that we are not what we do. Being busy doesn’t justify your existence on this earth. Being busy is really a distraction that takes us away from understanding who we are. When we know who we are, so we don’t have to be busy, we can be fully present. We don’t feel busy, and we don’t feel stressed. Instead we feel present, calm, and self-controlled rather than externally controlled by the many tasks and activities we have taken on.

Being busy affects our relationship with those around us. When we say: “I’m busy” the person we are talking with most likely will take this as: “I’m too busy for you. I have no time for you. My thoughts are elsewhere.” With that response, it’s easy to see how anyone would feel that the “to do” list has been given priority over the relationship. Those two words come off as dismissive – and even rude. “Busy” is a 4-letter word in more ways than one.

The truth is, we all have lots to do. Saying you’re busy doesn’t make you special. But being busy is really a state of mind. We don’t need to let all the stuff we have to do define us. We have a choice where we put our attention. We have a choice in how we prioritize things. We have a choice in how we spend our time and how much effort we put into anything we do.

So before we get into “busy mode” let’s consider where we are putting our attention. Are we too busy for our family and friends? I don’t think so. It’s not too difficult to take a pause for something, or someone, that is important to us. When we are asked how we are, that’s a cue to focus on what is right in front of us — that person, that relationship, that moment. Instead of saying “I’m busy” — replace that thought with “I’m present.”

When we say “I’m present” it sounds more like: “I’m here for you, you are important to me, and you have my undivided attention.” Now isn’t that better? When it comes down to it, we don’t remember all the things that occupied our time and seemed to be so pressing. But we do remember the people we love, and the moments we spent being fully present with them. And they remember that about us, too. That’s special, that’s what life is really about.

Photo source: https://www.inspiringwallpapers.net


13 thoughts on ““I’m Busy”: said and heard it enough already?

  1. A relevant post in today’s ‘busy’ world. ‘Being busy’ is directly proportional to being productive and useful. A person who is composed, free and organized with enough free time is ‘behind his times’. This reminds of a talk that we had at my son’s school where the chief guest explained that while he was interviewing a leading Bollywood actor, the busy actor had the goodwill to switch his phone to silent so that he could focus on the interview at hand. This one gesture is enough to make the interviewer feel respected and the job at hand important enough. If only we all could put it into practice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the generous feedback Pranitha. Yes, as you’ve said in your comment on one of my posts, that life truly involves others – our loved ones or those people who are really close to us – and (implicitly) by being ‘present’ with them at all times is a sure way to enjoying life.
      The things we do in life are all subject to our choices – We have a choice where we put our attention. We have a choice in how we prioritize things. We have a choice in how we spend our time and how much effort we put into anything we do, etc. And I believe being consciously aware of our choices will help us draw out the best in us, personal and relational-wise.
      Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m happy that this post resonates with you 🙂


    1. Yes, in a way, it does have something to do with the norms of society about how the word ‘busy’ has been branded or applied.
      Thank you for visiting my blog and liking some of my posts Aquileana. Pleasure having you here 🙂
      All the best to you too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. jakerose

    Everyone’s always busy, busy, busy, all the time. We get so wrapped up in our work and obligations that we forget to be present and live in the moment. That’s the only way to experience life, and like you said, THAT’S what life is all about.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah..seem that it now become so hard to get hold of someone these days. “I’m busy” is another way of telling “I ain’t got time to give a proper answer to your question” or “I’m not interested to talk with you”. It has become the most convenient response to any question.
      “Busy” is really a 4-letter word in more ways than one 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. True Radhika! Time is a very valuable commodity that each of us should use wisely. We should get “busy” doing worthwhile things and not make it as an alibi for anything requiring our genuine attention yet we perceive as superficial or unimportant.
      I appreciate your kind words Radhika. You have a great week too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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