top of page

Are You Busy?

Updated: Feb 10, 2019

What a question. Of course you are! Even when you’re not really busy, you yourself, your boss, or your organisation will make sure you’re busy. This is Parkinson’s Law at play.

                     Parkinson’s Law:

                     Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

My previous blog focused on how to make Parkinson’s Law work in your favour. The aim of this blog, however, is to urge you to stop saying:

“I’m busy.”

We all are.

“I’m so busy” is often accompanied with a big sigh, eyes rolling up a bit, and the corners of the mouth turning down.

When you say you’re busy, you’re focusing on the wrong thing, and you make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. You’ll get into a downward spiral of being busy being busy: with low priority emails, ineffective meetings, and spending too much time on social media.

Words are immensely powerful. Words direct your mind. Words create worlds. Using “I’m busy” might be a way of projecting importance, because important people seem to have a lot going on. However, consider what you’re also saying when you say you’re busy:

You’re not on top of your workload.

You’re not in control.

You don’t know how to set priorities.

You can be very busy being busy and not achieve much at all. And saying you’re busy will put you into a world of busyness.

What’s worse is that opportunities might not come your way, because people are afraid to load even more tasks on you when you’re already at your limits.

So, what are the alternatives to “I’m busy”?

To the question How are you?, instead of saying “I’m busy” you can also try:

I’m happy!

I’m having a good time! or

I’m enjoying life!

And add a warm smile to it.

You can also be more specific about what’s going on or point to something that you’ve just achieved:

I’m excited about my new project at work!

Proud to have my new website up! or

Thrilled that my event next week is all looking good!

The point is to bring positivity and dynamism into your language. And you can use the opportunity to be a bit more specific about your projects and achievements, and turn a mostly empty phrase (How are you?) into an invitation for an interesting conversation.

You’ve probably also noticed that people will ask you Ah, busy are you? What do you say then? Do you say yes, shoulders slagging a bit, with a sigh, eyebrows raised and all?

Or, do you say what I say? “There are so many exciting things going on!” That answer creates the opportunity to have an interesting discussion about some of the many things I’m involved in.

Do I sometimes catch myself saying I’m busy? Of course. As soon as that happens, I reflect on why I’ve just made “being busy” more dominant in my life than “having fun”. And I’ll go home and think of how to get back to “having fun” as quickly as possible.

Parkinson’s Law and powerful communications are topics in my new book How to Make Yourself Promotable – 7 Skills to Climb the Career Ladder. The e-book is on offer for just 99 cents! But hurry; this launch offer is only valid in July. Get it on Amazon[1], Google Play or Kobo.

[1] Amazon is not available in Singapore, so you might want to try the others if you’re living here