“I don’t have time.”
“I’ve got too much to do.”
“I’m way behind in my chores and other obligations.”
“I’d love to but my _____ needs me to _____ right now.”
“I’ve put _____ off too long. I need to do that first, before anything else.”
We’re all sooooo busy! We use these phrases multiple times throughout our days and weeks.
Desks overflowing with paperwork, closets bulging with years’ worth of clothes and other stuff to remain hidden away in lieu of culling, and appointment books with no white space are just some of the visual representations of our supposedly busy lifestyles.
Sorry, but I’m not buying it.
Unless you’re pulling back-to-back shifts at your job or unless you’ve got to feed, house, clothe and generally care for a brood of five, I’ll bet you’re saying you’re so busy as an excuse!
I believe there are three main reasons we say we’re busy when we’re really not:
- As a cloak of importance:
I’m SO busy. Just hearing these words creates a vision of importance. You’ve obviously got serious things to do if you’re that busy. You must be important. However, these are just words we toss around without consideration for their lack of meaning and realism.
I must grade those papers/finish my homework/complete that craft project/have sex with my partner/send that e-mail/get my nails done/call a relative/drop stuff off at the cleaners, donation center, school, church, or friend’s house, etc. These things must get done because of poor planning, not because you’re so wildly busy.
Yes, being busy can make us feel popular and sought after. But, it’s a front – a fake reality that can further isolate us from that which we need more than ever: fun and fellowship with friends and family or time alone to rest and recoup.
- When we are tired and/or need alone time:
Some of us can’t admit to having the desire to do nothing, and that desire is proportional to the lack of interest in doing that thing you want me to do. I can’t remember when it was acceptable to say, “Thanks, but no, I can’t,” and have that stand alone as a valid excuse. Instead we say we’re too busy, which is just the opposite of the truth, that we want to sit on our ass and veg.
World events these days can be exhausting. So, in addition to needing alone time because I may be sleep deprived, I also need more solitude to escape the oppressive news of the day.
- When we just don’t want to do whatever is being proposed.
This is a biggie because it can be really tough to disappoint or piss someone off when you just don’t want to go out, babysit their relative, or proofread a friend’s report. That fear of disappointing or angering someone has made me lie and say I’m busy when what I should have said kindly is “I just don’t feel like doing that right now.”
I’ve been guilty of telling countless white lies about being up to my ears in some other task, or way behind on another deadline, so I couldn’t possibly do what someone needs or wants me to do.
I wish I had a good solution to this “being busy when I’m actually lazy or uninterested,” but for right now I try to be as gently honest as possible without completely fibbing.
We’re on to you
You’re kidding yourself if you think people aren’t aware that when you consistently lament how busy you are, it’s a cover for something else in your life. Everyone knows it’s a ruse because they use it as an excuse too!
Sometimes friends are afraid it’s them you’re too busy to take time for. When I’ve felt rebuffed by someone who is always busy when I propose spending time with them, I’ll ask, “Hey, are you pissed at me?” I kind of cringe when they respond, “Oh, no, no. It’s just that I’m just so crazy busy!”
We’re also aware that most busy-ness is self-inflicted. You’re the one who signed up for all those classes or to volunteer so many places and times. And sometimes all this busy-ness that we generate for ourselves is just a guard against the possibility of being alone or experiencing an emptiness that is crushingly depressing.
In an effort to live in integrity I’m trying to remember more often that …
I need to spend time doing nothing and doing nothing is actually healthy for me.
I need to work on saying I can’t or I won’t, or I don’t want to do something when asked because I need time doing nothing right now. This one is particularly difficult for me.
None of us wants to hurt our friends’ feelings. Being kind while saying “no” takes some reassurance that it’s about us and our needs and not about them. I’m working on that too.
I’m also working on using the “too busy” excuse less.
Let’s face it: I’m retired. I find the time to do what I want to do. I’m just not that busy. And remember, we always find time to do those things we really want to do.