The Bitch Slap: How “Busy” Are You?

bitch slap busy“I’m busy.”

You’ve heard it. I’ve said it recently. It’s ingrained in our lexicon and has become the lame cousin of hizzy and awesome, yet in the Avoidance category as opposed to Enthusiasm. It’s the shorter version of the Office Space classic, “Yeahhhhhhhhh, I’m gonna need you to come in on Saturday.”

It’s bullshit, is what it is. And now, we’re going to get busy slapping “busy” out of your vocabulary.

Truth: Everyone Is Busy

I don’t care if you’re a sophomore in college or a 42-year-old parent of two: we’re all busy. Our collective Pile of Things to Do is one with no bottom. In fact, it would be more likely for me to get married in the next 72 hours than it would be to find the mythical bottom of The Pile. There are never enough hours in the day to get shit done. We’re all stressed and have life, people, and things pulling us in every direction. You being busy? Not special. At all.

Why the Fuck Are You Busy?

Being busy is the crappiest excuse we have for not __________. Fill in the blank, folks. When I was a kid in school, there was what teachers referred to as “busy work” — work assigned for one reason and one reason only: to keep kids quiet and occupied. So if I parlay that into adulthood like a rationally thinking human being should, busy is the last thing you should be. EVER. You and I  should never be busy. We should be working at getting things done, towards goals, and with a purpose. So, the next time you find yourself wanting to spout off (and I’m included here) about how busy you are, think about how lame that sounds and all of the things you could be doing instead of being busy. Busy? Busy can suck it because all it’s doing is sucking time from you and the task of getting you from where you are to where you want to be.

What “I’m Busy” Really Means

It means I don’t care enough to give you a real response. It means I’m lazy. It means that you don’t mean enough to me for me to sit down for three minutes and pick up the phone, write you an email, or walk up to your front door and offer you the personalized response you deserve.

When you tell someone “I’m busy,” you’re just telling them, “I’m too busy for you” in what you think is the nicest way possible.

And I’m guilty. Fucking bring-down-the-gavel-and-sentence-me guilty. The words, “I’m busy” will leave my vocabulary as of today and I have some apologizing to do to those on whom I’ve heaped this please listen to the nice hold music placebo. Because I’m never too busy to do the following things:

  • Give you the straight response you deserve
  • Answer your questions
  • Take your call or return it if need be
  • Ask about your life when you’re kind enough to ask about mine
  • Offer help for all the help you’ve given me.

We make the time for things and people in life that we find worth making time for. Without exception. If anything other than this statement were true, no one would ever get laid. If we can find time to fuck, flip through Facebook, shop online, and have any sort of knowledge why Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise are divorcing — we aren’t busy. And we sure as hell aren’t giving the people and things in our life that deserve it their proper due.

So the next time you want to tell someone “I’m so busy!”, try saying, “I don’t have the time to make time for your request right now because you’re not worth my attention.”

I’m bettin’ you might find that it’s a better use of your oh-so-busy days to give them a straight answer, like: “Thanks for reaching out and inviting me to participate in this panel. I can’t make that date, but would be happy to refer you to a few colleagues who might be able to meet your needs. Can you tell me what you’re looking for so I can point you in the right direction?”

You could have just said, “I’m busy — thanks for thinking of me!” but you opted to decline and be useful at the same time. Fucking amazing.

So, Tell Me: How “Busy” Are You?

I’m bettin’ that you’re not really that busy. You (like me) just opt for the lazy way out sometimes. We chatted last week about getting off your ass and designing a life without rules of other people. You also got smacked around about your need to make excuses. So what the hell is it with all the laziness?

Your life is the way it is because that’s how you allow it to be.

Things will either happen to you or you will take the things in your life and make things happen.

And if you’re simply too busy to get off your ass (and yes, my ass is in the mix here, too) and offer up the straight answer with everyone else AND yourself…

It’s no wonder that your life doesn’t look at all like the life you envisioned for yourself. You told Life you were busy…

so it moved on.

Think about that the next time you’re busy — your life walking away because you couldn’t give it the due it deserved.

You’ve been slapped.

 

 

48 comments
witavorr
witavorr

Yes, yes, a million times, YES. Thank you for vocalizing the internal rant I engage in when everyone I know, including myself, sometimes, complains about being busy.

Chrystal Bougon
Chrystal Bougon

It's just an excuse. I agree with the commentor below - the super "busy" people seem to know how to get the most sh*t done. Have you ever been to a restaurant that was packed vs. a restaurant where there is only you and one other person. Which time did you get the best service? Great article. "I'm super busy" just says to me "you are not a priority to me." And it means you are too busy to make time for me in your day. Thanks for putting a fine poing on it redhead!

HEROmanity
HEROmanity

Yeah. When someone says to me..."I know you're busy" - I feel insulted. Makes me want to B'ch Slap them.

J.D. Meier
J.D. Meier

Crazy busy. But I've learned to embrace it. And to carve out time for what's important. Long ago, I learned the truth that you don't climb up the mountain and then rest. When you get to the top of the mountain, there are more mountains. So you sure as heck better love the journey, or you'll hate the gain ... and worse, sometimes the journey is all we've got.

Nerdybird
Nerdybird

Busy is a fine thing to say if you're busy.  Do we really have to go through telling everyone our business?  I don't really see how this is a big deal.  I don't often say I'm busy, other people who I know do.  And I don't think your point is valid that "busy" is a negative response.  And I often don't care what people are busy with, only really caring when they're available.  

Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef
Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

It's funny, this bizness of busy. I believe if you want something done, ask the busiest person you know. For some reason, people who ship a lot of productive stuff, know how to maneuver their 24 hours better than the rest of us. But yes - saying "I'm too busy" IS a shorter way of saying "I'm too busy for YOU, sweetie." Just like saying "I can't afford it" is shorthand for "I choose not to buy that thing from you right now cuz I've got other priorities." How cool would it be if we could all just be honest with ourselves and each other? Dang...

Ezz Wheadon (to be)
Ezz Wheadon (to be)

I sat there nodding and smiling - and then realising that I was reading your blog instead of working. So.....

JackHumphrey
JackHumphrey

I'm way too busy right now to read this bitch slap, but I did anyway, and it rocks as usual.  Thanks.  My cheek stings a bit, but you're right.  Thanks for thinking of me.

EileenCook1
EileenCook1

You amaze me! Always talking about topics that are so in the 'now' it's crazy!! I've been dealing with this at work forEVER!!! Thank you for this! I'll be blasting this in their faces tomorrow. NO MORE 'I'm busy' Love you!!

Jessica Chapman
Jessica Chapman

Amen.   I attempted to write something pithy about lovingly turning away business cards and flyers shoved in my hands at events with a "You know, I'm not your ideal client, save this for someone at this event who will really value this,"  and telling people "thank you, no I don't want to have a coffee meeting with you to get to know each other"  and "no, I'm not going to connect with you on facebook without finding out who the hell you are and why you want to 'friend' me."  (You should ask my current and last husband about this last one!)People, me included, seem to feel afraid of using the word "no".  And "I'm busy" is a pussy way out of saying "no".  My time is valuable to me. And it's valuable to my clients, my family, and my friends.  When I lovingly say "no" to people, because I know what's important to me, I'm free to focus and so are they on the stuff that matters.Jessica Clark, http://roomtobreathe.biz

Michael Clark
Michael Clark

Pet peeve. Meetings that substitute for actually doing shit. And email conversations about the same nothing. Not too busy for that shit. Just refuse to stand for it. Over committing to do shit because you won't say 'no'; another peeve. But I'm not everybody's cup of tea, and I don't want everyone to like me. Not too busy for that either. Simply don't believe in a law of diminishing returns. Sure, there's more and more people doing what I do, and seemingly fewer folks to do it for. Guess what? I'll just rock more and pick clients better.

John Trader
John Trader

Thank you for the mental gobstopper today. Being busy just means, "I have no f'ing clue how to properly prioritize my life to direct attention towards those things that are most important." And so on. I like to think there is a difference between being physically and mentally busy, but the trick is to be able to know your tipping point so neither becomes an excuse.

Lyndsey
Lyndsey

I don't often repost...but felt I needed to share. Thank you for helping me with career/personal development and honest.

Amy Putkonen
Amy Putkonen

Wow. Food for thought. Hi, Erika. My first stop at your blog. I can't remember how I found you, but I was like, "oh yeah..." How fun you are. I say this ALL the time. I could rant on about why but the true fact is, I have filled my life with crap and now the question is, HOW DO I GET AWAY FROM ALL THE CRAP? lol...

JackieDotson
JackieDotson

BADASS. "Busy" is the siren call of the amateur. Being distracted and chasing shadows is just resistance. We could all benefit from more focus, less navel gazing and less busy (and more wine, but that's just me).

Joe Mayberry
Joe Mayberry

Every time. Every damn time you write one of these articles, it makes me re-examine my life. You are going to make me a better person. You know that right? And the world will have to suffer the consequences.

Annie Sisk
Annie Sisk

I built a whole brand around my lazy. I LOVE my lazy. I celebrate that shit. And what I have noticed is that "busy" and its bitchy older sister "exhausted" have become badges of freakin' HONOR.  That? Is not something to be proud of. To me it means "I don't know how to manage my choices in spending the same 168 hours every week that we all get. Also, I crave distraction so that I don't have to deal with the serious shit in my life."

Jessica Albon
Jessica Albon

This is a really great topic, Erika. As an introvert, I tend to fall back on "I'm busy," when what I really mean is, "If I have to spend another second with someone, no matter how much I adore them, I very well may have a nervous break down." I exaggerate ;-), but I do wish there were a socially acceptable way to say, "Hey, I really need some down time, can we do something next week instead?" Alas, "I'm busy," tends to work as a response, but you're right--it sounds like what I'm really saying is the other person isn't important to me and that's very seldom the case. 

Jefferson C Hunt
Jefferson C Hunt

Ouch! Thanks for the slap. But I am busy .......OUCH!,OUCH,OUCH! Ok I get it my Cheecks are red. Thanks again.

JosephRatliff
JosephRatliff

... [too busy to type a response] Seriously, why did you have to go and take that excuse away from me Erika :)  Dagnabbit. Now I've got to be all focused and everything.

LM Fifty-Two
LM Fifty-Two

I'm way too busy to read this whole slap.  Is there a VLOG I can view? /ducks

James Johnson
James Johnson

Well, shit Erika, you just took my "I'm too busy response" and stomped all over it! And the fact that I read your post only emphasizes how NOT busy I am. ...and it's not just the words "I'm busy!", but actions... My wife and I have a 2-year old, and like many parents we have those days where we're like "just a second honey, mommy and I are almost finished talking, or watching a show, etc." When we do that, we're basically saying "We're too busy for your tiny ass." How shitty is that?! Horrible parent alert is blaring in my head right now... But we're human, and we have to remind ourselves to not be too busy for the important things like taking the time to read Goodnight Moon or Pajama Time to our son, like taking that moment and listen to our spouse or best friend talk about their day, or to just give a shit about something outside of ourselves. It's easy to get wrapped up isn't it? As always, thanks for the slap, and I hope life is treating you well.

Dianne Bengtson
Dianne Bengtson

You have a point. I knew instantly who in my life gets the "I'm busy" answer. There are people who use the phone as a means of control. They like to complain. It's not a conversation, but a running diatribe on their problems. Yes, they are disabled. Yes, they have real health problems. No, they do not have the luxury of taking on their lives at full throttle as I do. Unfortunately they are not satisfied with 10-15 minute conversations. They want to talk for at least an hour. (Yes, these are family members. Yes, I do have a responsibility to care for them for reasons that I won't go into.) No reasoned explanation ever works because the very goal is to derail and drain me. These are the only people who hear "I am busy" from me. Thanks for the opportunity to think about this. I feel better knowing why I do it.

k8tlevy
k8tlevy

A good friend of mine has the same, or at least a similar, philosophy. "I don't have time" is, to her, the worst excuse for ___________. We're all given the same number of hours in a day, and we all have choices as to how we spend each one of those hours. There's no such thing as "I don't have time." An accurate, albeit verbose, translation would be, "whatever it is isn't worth me making time for, or fitting into my schedule."

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