Banning The Word Busy

The last few weeks have been tense.  I struggle even writing that statement at the moment as Hurricane Sandy rips through the Caribbean and makes it way to the Eastern Seaboard and beyond.  How can my stress and craziness even begin to compare to the havoc and destruction that Sandy will leave?  As people are making necessary preparations and precautions to stay safe and ALIVE, I say casually:  The Last few weeks have been tense.

Basically, my computer failed with my hard drive not far behind, my lifelong friend endured a double mastectomy and 2nd hospitalization due to infection (obviously, other close friends and I were responsible for sharing care of her 3 boys), my beloved dog of FOURTEEN years died, and my mom is prepping for her 2nd major back surgery that will require a week-long hospital stay and a 2 month recovery at home.  A little stressful for an adult only child, mother of 2, wife of one, writer/blogger, entrepreneur, friend, and just a regular old human.

Regardless, I made necessary changes and provisions to be able to honor my commitment to speak at a local tech/social media conference this past Saturday while life became increasingly more chaotic around me. I was really excited to be a part of this local endeavor in educating others on the changing face of social media.  In addition to creating my presentation on my iPad and purchasing the necessary cable to run it from there (because my laptop was down), I moved mountains to be away from my family on a SATURDAY to present.

As I rushed downtown this past Saturday to set up, I ran into local executives who acted surprised to see me.  I thought that this was strange because I was on for a 1 p.m. slot.  Actually, I was on for a 1 p.m. slot but not according to the day’s agenda which was passed out on arrival.  To many  – this must have appeared as though I decided not to show up because I was on the online agenda.  Well, in fact, I was there and ready to roll to a very slim audience because no one knew where I was.

Many thanks to the people who attended. You were great!! I truly enjoyed sharing my information with you and the interaction back and forth.

The bottom line is this:  I was ‘BUSY,’ but still made true on my commitment without fail.  How is it that I communicated just the very day before to confirm the building where I would speak, yet I did not make it onto the schedule that was crafted?

Which brings to my mind, our need to constantly say we are so busy, hectic, and f-ing tense…Which I think is a big fat ‘dog ate my homework’ excuse for when things go wrong.

Back in July, the NY Times ran a post by Tim Kreider on the “Busy Trap.”  Receiving both accolades and criticism, the Busy Trap basically spoke to the fact that we are so busy, even our kids are so busy.  By a single male in his 20’s (and not a mom), this post garnered attention far and wide about our state of business stating that being busy lent itself to our very own existential being.  Basically being busy equaled feeling alive which is why we are so over-busy.

Well that is what being alive is – being busy doing what we love, owning up to our obligations, and sometimes doing things we need to do.  I am so sick of hearing how busy everyone is.  Frankly, I think being busy is good because in my opinion, not being busy means we are ready for a retirement home.  A full slate of shit to do allows us to mobilize and attack each item on the list and feel a sense of satisfaction when it is checked off.

Rebecca Nash, a photographer and woman in business, sums it up when she says: Being busy tends to bring more things to do, keeps the business phone ringing, and keeps me motoring along. It’s just a fact of our lives we should all be used to and happy for…That’s my two cents!

Talking about how busy we are has become a catch-all phrase that we use for everything.  Too busy to meet a friend, help a neighbor, enjoy a date night, go to our kids’ game, follow-up on things we agreed to do, workout, have lunch, assist an aging parent, make a meeting at our kids’ school.  The list could go on endlessly.  We all have our limits and I completely appreciate those, but stop saying I am busy because the person you are saying that to is also busy.  Commit to what you want, and if you don’t have time, energy, money, resources or the flexibility to do something, say so.  

**ed. note: emergencies happen. we all know that.

photo:Flickr

Jennifer Hatfield who advises others to say it with style confirms my thinking:  I think *some* people who use that line over and over are quite unorganized. It’s smoke and mirrors also.  Hatfield also quotes her mentor Lara Galloway, who says:  Stop giving away precious time to people and things that don’t deserve it.

I completely agree in light of recent events.

It is Ok to say no, but be authentic in saying it.  Do NOT just say you are ‘busy.’  A few months ago, I pitched a highly regarded writer on a freelance project.  It did not fit in on the schedule, which is fine, but I did not hear once that she was ‘soooo busy’ but rather intrigued with the project but could not give it her full attention and that would be unfair.  Yes.  Exactly.  Tactfully and Gracefully said.

However, if you commit..make it happen.  Doc G who advises parents on making their children accountable says this: If you’re “too busy” to take on a commitment, that’s valid. If you’re “too busy” to meet an obligation you’ve already committed to? For the most part, that’s not OK. After all, we wouldn’t let our kids get away with that, right? 

Look, we cannot take on everything, but we do need to learn how to define and verbalize our limitations with grace and tact and without saying we are ‘busy.’  Maybe just maybe, I would have been on the schedule if the tasks of the conference were appropriately divided up among those who really wanted to make the commitment?

Again, I know stuff happens.  If it does, we owe others a heartfelt explanation.  For the most part, though, I see the people around me in person and virtually working hard to follow through on commitments because being busy means we are not dead.


{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Haralee October 30, 2012, 7:13 PM

    I agree with you 100%, everyone is busy and it is not a pissing contest on who is the busiest! Some people like the drama of being so busy when to other people it appears more like poor organizational skills.
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