• James Walton

Strike this One Word from Your Life

Commit to not describing yourself as busy.


I know. You are. We all are.


But you don't need to let that state of affairs define you. Here's why:

When people describe themselves as busy, it's often short-hand for "life is a little out of control right now, going faster than I'd like, and I'm not sure how to slow down."


This language transfers responsibility for the condition of your life to external circumstances. It's moving the locus of control over your actions and reactions from internal to external. 

When we surrender control to outside forces, we're more apt to feel anxiety, powerlessness and futility.

Instead, we can recognize that (with few but notables exceptions) the situation we are in is the situation we have chosen for ourselves. And thus, we are powerful to change our condition to align with our priorities. We retake the locus of control back within ourselves.


And even when external circumstances do have an outsized impact on our life, we still get to chose how we'll respond to this new reality. 


Here's what a commitment to striking the word "busy" from your life might look like:

  • When someone asks how you're doing, don't say, "Oh you know, busy." Talk instead about what you're learning, what you're grateful for, excited about or anxious for (it's okay to surface negative emotions in the right context).

  • Your direct probably thinks you're too busy for them and feels badly to create another pull on your attention. If they start a quick interruption by saying, "Hey, I know you're so busy, but..." take a moment to say something like, "I'm never too busy to help you. But I am focused on a high priority for the next 20 minutes, can I catch up with you after?" Nonverbals are crucial here: if your voice is tight and your body tense when you respond, you'll have the opposite impact. Aim to stay tranquil in the storm, and your directs will appreciate your composure under stress.

  • And when you actually are, legitimately, undeniably, unsustainably busy, don't refer to yourself that way. Instead, focus your self-talk as taking measurable steps to accomplish your key goals and priorities. And then take a moment to assess how you got into this situation and what a way out looks like.

Of course, if your life is perpetual chaos and overwhelm, you'll need more than a vocabulary shift to find freedom.


But for the majority of us, let's commit to not using "busy" as a default response in our conversations. Instead, let's focus on what can control, and work effectively towards those ends.

It starts with not describing ourselves as busy.

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At Trellis Group, we believe chaos is the enemy of the small business. It's our mission to partner with small business owners and their teams to develop the managerial practices and processes to crush chaos. Revenues go up, anxiety goes down, and work becomes a force multiplier for good in the lives of your people. Reach out to discover how the Trellis Group can help you crush chaos.


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