The Deception of "Busy"

The Deception of "Busy"

It's so easy to be busy. In a short strategy meeting the other day about a new product rollout, managers started talking about responsibilities of this new launch. Everyone loved to throw in their few creative pennies, but when the time approached to own a responsibility most people shrugged, "I'm too busy to do this..."

Too many times we get ourselves to a point where we say, "Things are hectic, hey! I'm slammed." (note: "hey" is a Zimbabwean idiom—"Crazy weather we're having, hey?" "Are you serious, hey?") Every week turns over in this sort of tone. No time for new gigs, new ideas or new relationships. Just time to be completely busy.

I've even seen people that try to compete on a new level in their busyness—trying to out-busy someone else. This is not healthy. We were not meant to live slammed against the wall with no time to spare.

  • "I was too busy to reach out with an email and thank you for your hard work."
  • "It was too hectic this week so I couldn't do what I promised I would do."
  • "I was too slammed to give a few hours of my time to a charity and build someone's dream."
  • "I have way too much on my plate to actually care about what you are doing" (even though this person could take your business or at the very least, your logo, to the next level).

The question shouldn't be "How busy am I?" It should be, "How effective am I being with people and opportunities that come across my path?"

The crux: if you have absolutely no time because it's already filled, then you'll probably miss your next career catalyst, because you're too busy to notice it.

Don't be busy, be effective. It's never been about how hard you work. Working hard is only half the equation. The Successful are busy, but they never respond "Man, I've been busy." It's a perspective shift. If you're creating great art through your work, then you should be busy.

But you should never let the deception that busy brings cause you to lose site of the priorities in your workday.


  • Thanking people
  • Doing the biggest, scariest task first
  • Reading and writing more
  • Connecting people
  • Producing results
  • Being helpful
  • Being present
  • Initiating conversations
  • Brainstorming
  • Following up & following through
  • Finishing your assigned responsibilities

Not Priority

  • Checking facebook
  • Did I get a new email? Nope.
  • [10 seconds later] Did I get a new email?
  • Was that my phone buzzing or do we have the same ringtone?
  • Over communicating to ensure you're not the one held responsible if the idea doesn't work.
  • Delegating the biggest task of your day
  • Where am I going to go for lunch?

(photo via trey ratcliff)