You’re one busy lady!
How do you do it all? You’re so busy!
I’m so happy for you, it looks like you’re busy!
So great to see you! I didn’t expect you’d come, since you’re always busy traveling!
Oh it’s okay, don’t worry about it! I know just how busy you are!
I cringe whenever I hear the word busy! Unfortunately for me, I hear the word busy every day.
I don’t think I’d be exaggerating if I said every one-on-one interaction with people outside of my family includes the word busy. Everyone is busy!
How are you?
Crazy busy – I’ve got so much going on!
How’s work going?
How’s the family?
They’re busy with work and school… the usual.
The word busy makes me so uncomfortable. And so do any statements of busyness:
I don’t have enough time
I don’t have a life
My plate is too full
My day somehow slipped away
I just can’t get a break
First, the disclaimer: any similarities to any conversations you and I had or to any e-mails you and I may have exchanged are purely coicidental.
Second, the question: How am I supposed to reply? Should I sound concerned because she’s so overwhelmed or should I smile with an air of approval, and give her a round of applause?
Third, the issue: It confuses me that, in this society, the labels “workaholic” and “overachiever” are supposed to be compliments. Everyone – especially moms – wears busyness as a badge of honor. Busy is a status that many of us aspire to.
Fourth, the underlying truth: Busy is a four letter word that sabotages your efforts as a mom. B-U-S-Y sounds harmless because it’s like one of those default answers that just rolls off your tongue.
The disease of being busy is one of the most lethal and most contagious out there. Busy robs you of the opportunity to live a life of meaning, connection, and value. Busy moms are not conscious creators – they’re often running on autopilot, relying on coffee to give them a false sense of energy when they feel depleted and unable to function, and hoping that wine will numb the negative emotions that result from their overworked, overscheduled, and overstretched lifestyle.
Have you ever been really busy all day – not a minute to spare – and yet, exhausted, at the end of the day, after looking at your work load or your to-do list and you feel like you got nothing accomplished?
Perhaps that’s a clue that being a busy mom is not the answer. And we’re smart moms here, we know that! But here’s the thing, just like the coffee and the wine, being busy is addictive. According to research, being busy is perceived as being important, driven, and competent. Busyiness is supposed to be a sign and a measure for success, prestige, and ambition to move up the social ladder, but it sure doesn’t feel that way, does it?
My first encounter with busy was in my childhood. I always believed my father loved me and I even thought for a while I was his favorite. Among all his affirming words to me, perhaps the sweetest and most significant were:
I’m never busy for you!
Never? Seriously? How can you NEVER be busy? Sounds unbelievable, now that I think about it. And herein lies my issue with busy: I learned from my dad that never busy is a choice. I learned that busy is also a choice, and a subconscious excuse.
Not now, I’m too busy.
I can’t go, I’m super busy.
I would have invited you, but I know your schedule is extremely busy.
Busy doesn’t sound so positive when we look at it this way, right? Busy is actually a jab at my heart that reminds me I didn’t read to my child that night, I didn’t call that friend that time she really really really needed me to be there for her, that I made myself sick that one time because I was just too busy to take care of myself.
Sooo BUSY. The word busy carries a huge amount of chronic stress with it. Say it in your mind, type it up, or say it outloud, and I promise you’ll have an army of stress hormones working hard to affect your physical, mental, and spiritual wellness. This dictionary definition of busy rings true: “not at leisure, not accessible.” Is that the mother you want your kids to remember?
Pressed for time
I’ll let you add to this list, but I think we can agree that busy is starting to lose its positive perception. Let’s dive in further into the misconception that when you’re busy you’re successful, important, and fulfilled.
Busy triggers your subconscious mind to remind you of what a failure you are, because even with being so busy, you don’t seem to ever do enough. You feel empty and your most precious relationships are suffering. On top of the anxiety of being busy, you come to the conclusion that you must not BE enough. When you attach your worth to being busy, it affects everything you do as a mom, as a mompreneur, as a human.
What’s going through your head right now? Do you commonly describe your life as busy? Are you feeling a bit self-conscious or defensive? Don’t beat yourself up – we ALL do it. Plus, you’re not busy for the sake of being busy – there’s plenty to do in the world of motherhood! But I do want to invite you to ponder about your relationship with time.
Fifth: the secret. The secret to stop being so busy all the time is quite simple: stop labeling yourself, describing your life, and “diagnosing” those you love as being busy. Imagine with me for a minute: what if you used empowering words to replace the word busy? What would that look like? Consider these responses:
“I am really focused right now”
“I am making progress on this task”
“I am evaluating all my options”
“I am engaging with my work more consistently”
“I am committed to my priorities”
“I am being very intentional with my time”
“I am seizing my opportunities”
“I am being more mindful with my time”
“I am fully devoted to getting this done”
“I am choosing to invest this time on this project”
“I am using my time more efficiently”
Busy either sounds like a brag disguised as a complaint or a complaint disguised as a boast, but when you focus your language on what you are actually doing and why you are doing it, you will feel differently and will send a different message to you brain. You will feel calm, you will feel collected, you will feel confident, because you will take charge of your time.
When you shift your mindset and reflect this in your language, you also model a new pattern for other moms who need the sanity and the sense of peace that comes from anxiously engaged in a worthy cause. I’ve been on that journey for a while now, and this is the first time I actually talk about it. The other day, when my girlfriend said “you’re a busy lady,” and I replied “I’ve been really blessed to have the opportunity to travel more,” I didn’t have to tell her I wasn’t “using busy” anymore, but I could tell we both felt like it was really a compliment.
As you become aware of your default conditioning around the word busy, you won’t feel so busy anymore. As you re-program your brain and bring your focus back to what really matters, you not only become emotionally available, but also have the energy and enthusiasm to pursue those things you now can’t get to because you keep telling yourself you’re just so busy.
My invitation is to catch yourself in the act, “con las manos en la masa” (with your hands in the dough lol). Go through your monumental to-do list and evaluate each item:
Would this actiont add value and meaning to my life?
Will doing this feel like progress toward what matters most to me?
Is this activity connected to my purpose?
My favorite part about this concept is realizing that worthiness and busyness are not synonymous. Being frazzled, exhausted, and overwhelmed doesn’t mean you are productive, let alone a high performer. Doing nothing can feel absolutely amazing without feeling like you’re a slacker, because can finally think creatively, examine, and explore.
Plus, people don’t get the feeling that when I’m saying I’m busy, I’m just dishing out an easy excuse to say no to helping them or connecting with them.
Are you going to ban the word busy from your vocabulary? I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts and learning your to break free from being busy all the time. Remember, you are a human being NOT a human doing! Xoooox