Why I am going to (try and) stop saying I am busy

Busy, busy, busy?

I’ve decided to (try) and stop saying I am busy all the time. When people ask me, I will try and stop say ‘ too busy’, ‘so busy’ or ‘you know, busy’ or any variation of the ‘busy’ theme. No idea if I will manage it, but we’ll see how it goes!

Read on to find out why…

A recent conversation made me think…

Recently, I had a conversation with a colleague I hadn’t seen in a while. They asked how I was, and I replied that I was busy, and then appended with a list of all the things I felt like I had to do. They said they were busy too and did likewise. It wasn’t the best chat I have had with this person and I came away feeling a bit down after it. It got me thinking why this may be…. I wonder if it was because it basically is a bad habit – and then came up with some reasons this may be the case…

  1. It is something I do automatically. I’m not sure I want my social interactions to be [running on autopilot].

  2. It was a missed opportunity for a genuine connection. I think that person actually wanted to know who I was, instead they got a list of things that I was doing. They do the same job as me- they will be doing roughly the same sort of thing! It wasn’t really that interesting. I hadn’t seen this person for far too long. I really wanted to know how their new baby was doing, and share some funny stories with them about my own kids. Instead, we ended up being a tad negative about work.

  3. It wasn’t good for me. I literally felt myself feeling [overwhelmed] as I talked about it! It made the problems salient, without generating any solutions. Sure, it felt like a problem shared (which is always supportive), but I wonder if I would have have been better focusing on some positives….

  4. It implies (to me at least) a loss of control. A feeling that we have no control of our environment (having an ‘external locus of control’1) is linked with poor mental health. So, maybe a habit to get out of!

  5. It was just plain boring! We could have had much more fun with that time!

  6. I was carrying it around like some weird badge of honour. I’m not a better person for being busy. I’m not better than the person to for being busy either, In fact, I think it just makes me a bit grumpy when I am over-committed. Why am I re-enforcing this tendency?! I’d rather be in a position to just genuinely say ‘great, thanks!’ and stop competing on being busy, or worrying about it all!
    I guess sometimes it’s cathartic – it may also create a shared social experience. So, perhaps I shouldn’t stop saying I am busy all the time. Maybe I should just be more aware when I am doing it- make it a concious decision. And, maybe more importantly, maybe when others say it I should really listen to them and, if it feels like they need it, try and make them feel better.

We’ll see how it goes….

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  1. Rotter, J. B. (1966). Generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of reinforcement. Psychological monographs: General and applied, 80(1), 1-23. 

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