You are not “too busy”.

There is one phrase that, every time I hear it, I silently gnash my teeth and/or make a face (depending on where this conversation is taking place). You’ve probably already guessed what it is based on the post title, right?

“I’m just too busy.”

“I really want to work on this project but I’m just too busy.” “I really wanted to get more done this week but I’m just too busy.” “I’d love to spend more time relaxing, but I’m just too busy.”

Now, you might be thoughtfully holding on to an idea for later use, when you can do it its full justice. You might be planning your year in a leisurely fashion. You might be honoring your energy levels and working to suit them.

But that doesn’t make you “too busy”.

If you’re too busy to do something, then it’s not a priority. Period.

Saying “busy” is one thing. We’re all busy. And most not-ridiculously-lazy people I know tend towards busy-ness – if we don’t know what to do or why, we’re much more likely to fill our time with any old task or project we can, just to feel like we’re doing something. (Thanks, culture of overwork.)

But “too busy”?

Too busy is a mindset. Too busy is not knowing and acknowledging your current energy levels and work load. Too busy is having no idea which tasks are your high priority ones or which ones will get the results you want, so instead, you’re spending too much time on (wait for it) busy work. Too busy is being unsure of where your time is actually going, so instead of using it mindfully, you have this constant low-grade background buzz of busy-ness.

The thing is, when I look at my actual work load, and things I got done, I realize this: 99% of the time, my days where I feel hectic and busy and zomg-can’t-breathe are not actually any more full of work than days where I sail through it all and feel like an über-productive BAMF at the end of the day. It comes down to two differences: planning & mindset.

Planning:

Most days, I know exactly what to do, in what order. I know what my priorities are for this given week or month or quarter, and my task list is a mix of that and day-to-day work and client work. And my task list is broken down into doable chunks, instead of mini-projects (i.e. I don’t just have “research, outline, and write a blog post” on my planner, I have “write blog post that you outlined on Tuesday”).

(If this is where you tend to struggle, check out the planner bundle, or head on over to the services page and see how I can help.) 

Mindset:

The other thing that makes a huge difference is mindset. On the days when I feel great about my work, I’m taking care of myself. I’m allowing myself room to breathe. I took the time to go through my morning routine and eat an actual breakfast and take breaks throughout the day. These all sound like super-basic things but they are so easy to eff up. (Sometimes I feel like I need to hire someone to stand over my shoulder and say “Okay, time for a break! Get the hell out of that chair and do some yoga, woman!”)

I want you to stop the next time you catch yourself saying, “I’m too busy”, and ask yourself which isn’t working here: planning or mindset. Figure out why you’re feeling too busy and take action – today, now – so that you don’t have to say that to anyone ever again.

Photo credit: Kailash Gyawali

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Comments

  1. Woman get out of my head! I was just whining to myself about how busy I am. Meanwhile my to do list hasn’t budged a bit. Why? Because I am busy with low priority stuff so I am not making the dents in my blogging/branding plan as I would like. Thank you so much for this post. I will be sure to run the planning + mindset test moving forward. Hi5.

    • Oh man, the low priority stuff can REALLY eat up your day if you let it! Kudos to you for recognizing that pattern, though. Glad you liked the post & high five for progress! 😀

  2. Spot on description of my current behavior! I’ve struggled with this for the past few weeks as I have so many tasks trying to develop a new business. I wasn’t sure how I was going to tackle my productivity woes but splitting it up into planning and mindset makes sense. It will be nice to put this into action, thank you.

    • You’re welcome Andrea – I’m glad you liked the post! Oh and if you’re just starting your business, there’ll be a post going up tomorrow that you’ll probably find interesting – a planning case study with a woman who’s just starting her business. :) Make sure to check it out!

  3. I make the “too busy” comment all the time – yet oddly enough I find plenty of time for “True Blood”. Hmmm…..

  4. “Too busy” is a socially acceptable brush off used when people don’t want to be responsible for choosing something else. I call BS when someone says it to me :)

    • EXACTLY. I think what bothers me is that I also see it as giving away your power – if you’re too busy, then it’s by choice, and acting like it’s not by your choice disempowers you.

  5. Yes, yes, and yes! I’m all about personal choices and responsibility. All true….but how what happens when you’re humming along on your planned-out priorities and some OTHER priority jumps in and insinuates itself? Example: I was working through my daily list when along came a message that the payment link on my site was down. No payment link = no money = high priority. But then I missed out on my last to-do of the day. Got any ideas better than “tough break…start again tomorrow” (which is what I told myself)?

    • I think that when it’s something like that, really the best you can do is reorganize your priorities accordingly, even if it means you didn’t get all your original to do list done that day. When something like that pops up, it’s not through any fault of your’s – so even though it sucks, you just do the best you can. Good luck next time something like that happens! <3

  6. I really like this Michelle-about a year ago I noticed that this was a habit I had developed. People would invite me out, trips would be suggested, and always the response was–I’m too busy. When I realized I was doing it I checked myself hardcore-decided that if I was too busy to have fun then the whole point of running my own business was lost and that I needed to reframe the way I thought about and spent my time-now I react to the phrase much like you do!

    • Awesome Bri – way to check yourself before you wrecked yourself 😉 (And EXACTLY…if we’re too busy to have fun, what’s the point of running our own bizzes?!)

  7. I absolutely agree! That phrase is one of my #1 pet peeves. I love the line: “Too busy is being unsure of where your time is actually going, so instead of using it mindfully, you have this constant low-grade background buzz of busy-ness.” In the healing work I do, they say that people use “busy-ness” to escape dealing with their emotional pain. So the question… is it escapism or mismanagement of time (probably a little of both). ?

    • I think it’s a little bit of both yeah. I also think some of it is not recognizing your sovereignty over your own time, like I mentioned above in my reply to Sandi – when people aren’t aware of how they’re spending their time, it creates this unproductive and generally disempowering dynamic around their work. And then once you’re *in* that dynamic, it’s easier to just stay busy than to face the problem and try to fix it, YKWIM? Some interesting parallels here with what you said about emotional pain. Thanks so much for your comment, Julie.

  8. I loved this.. and it’s so true.. people don’t even listen to half of what they say, they’re on autopilot or caught in illusion.. My pet peeve is when you ask somebody HOW they are..everyone’s answer is “busy”.. I find that answer so annoying, personally. Not sure why, maybe because it’s so unoriginal and not particularly reflective.. who knows..
    Great post though.. and just like we make time for what we love and care about.. same thing with money.. “I can’t afford it”.. is in a similar vein.. It’s about priorities and making choices…Oh my little rant.

    Love to you,
    Lisa/Intuitivebody

    • Oooh, yes, “I can’t afford it” is definitely a parallel phenomenon…there’s possibly something there about how we spend our time and/or money…because “I’m too busy” is just another way of saying “I can’t afford it”, except you’re talking about spending time instead of money. Thanks Lisa – glad you liked the post :)

  9. ugh! I am the queen of avoidance! I always feel overwhelmed and “busy” because I know I am trying to put off doing something else more important. Thanks for sharing this!

  10. So true, being “busy” is a form of mental laziness. Now I really have to learn on how to turn my busy day into a productive one… that makes all the difference. Thanks for reminding me. xoxo

  11. I seem to focus on the low value items more then the others and then at the end of the day wonder why i wasted time on petty things. Thank you for putting this in an easy to digestible way for me to get focused.

Trackbacks

  1. […] “Busy” is the new black. Especially with solopreneurs & entrepreneurs, we tend to wear our “busy-ness” as a badge – a sign of “Oh, I must be doing well, look how busy I am! See?!” (I’ve got more on why you’re not “too busy” here.)  […]

  2. […] from your business Posted on October 4, 2012 by Michelle • No Comments We’ve talked about why you’re not too busy, and how to overcome SOGOTP syndrome; this week we’re going to dive a bit more into overwhelm […]

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