Stop Being Busy!

I keep a 365 day calendar on my desk called “YOU are a BADASS” by Jen Sincero … author of a book by the same name. It is an awesome daily reminder about being present, being connected and being real. This will be the first post in what I hope is an ongoing series inspired by Jen’s work.

Here is an entry from several days back:

“Ever notice that whenever you ask someone how they’re doing, about 99% of the time they say something like ‘Good. Really busy, but good’. ‘Busy’ has become the new ‘Fine, thanks.’ I mean where is the fun in that? What kind of message does that send out to the world and ourselves? No wonder we all feel like we’re living pinned beneath a giant, cement slab of a to-do list.”

Some of you may have heard me ranting on about this exact same thing in the past, but I think it is worth revisiting.

What if busy actually meant “I’m choosing to believe that leaving control over my life to other people who demand things of me that are not important and perhaps not even urgent is ‘good’.”

Or … “When I say busy I feel important that I have so many things that other people want me to do, but also to protect myself from the crappy feelings I get when I use this as an excuse for why I’m not investing in what is important to me like health, growth, loved ones and friends.”

Or … “I hate being busy but there’s no escaping it. I need a job and if I speak up I might lose it. Besides will it actually be better anywhere else? It’s just the way of the world and I’d better get used to it.”

Can I issue a challenge to everyone? For one month, commit to yourself to not answer busy when asked “how are you?” Commit to the idea of taking a short pause to check in with yourself to get the real answer to “how are you?”. You may not want to share that answer in the moment and substitute something less vulnerable like “I’m doing okay! It can be tough navigating all the demands some days but overall I feel good that I have so many opportunities to contribute.”

It may be instructive for you to listen to the inner dialogue that wants you to say busy. Get to know these drivers. Ask if they serve what you want and how you want to grow. If you truly are busy, how do you take control of the situation and be intentional about working on the things that are truly important instead of those things that only feel important because others are asking. Ask: what’s the biggest impact you can make in the hours you are willing to allocate to work and still have a reasonable balance in your life?

I would love to hear others’ thoughts on this topic? How is busy a badge of honour for you? What strategies do you use to counter feeling busy?

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Ian Munro @

Ian Munro is a leadership and vitality coach with a primary passion for working with senior professionals who wish to improve their connection to and vitality in their career, or who wish to make a transition to a meaningful and rewarding retirement. His methods are focused on helping clients understand why they present as they do in day-to-day life, discover their authentic self and give themselves permission to build a meaningful and rewarding future, both professional and personal. Ian’s love for this work has developed naturally as he built his career as an executive and leader in the IT services industry, serving in many roles and facets of this industry over 25 years. As he reached the pinnacle of his career he began to search more deeply for meaning and alternate rewards from his own career and to begin to plan for his own “first retirement”.

4 thoughts on “Stop Being Busy!

  1. I find this depends on who is asking. If this is a question coming from a co-worker/manager, I think we all have that initial reaction of “wait…what is the agenda with this question?……are they finding out if I have cycles to offload more work on me? ….My gosh- I am busy and if I don’t say something they will ___________…”
    I also find that we generally don’t answer that question honestly as it would feel really odd. If you ask my and I start going off on how it was a terrible day… I may have just made you feel awkward. I have had this happen where I did respond in truth- and sadly, their response was “good, good…. oh wait- what???”. So this is an issue on both sides.
    Maybe it’s the question and asker that needs to change?? Maybe we need to change up the question- “Ian, I was thinking about your retirement and your new house build- how has that been going??”.

    (see what I did there….. how is it going?? really?)

  2. Okay so I’m not busy. But I have been doing things the work I was hired to do to promote people who are writer. I spend time with Jim and I even tackled a project in the apartment that I have been meaning to do. Also going to spend time with my daughter and Grandson on the weekend and on Sunday we are spending time with my step daughter and her boyfriend and Peg

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