"Are you busy?"
What a question. Of course you are! Even when you’re not really busy, the demands of life, work, and prioritising success have a way of keeping you on your toes. This is Parkinson’s Law at play:
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:
We all are.
The Pitfalls of Saying “I’m Busy”
“I’m so busy” is often accompanied by a big sigh, eyes rolling up a bit, and the corners of the mouth turning down.
When you say you’re busy, you inadvertently shift your focus in the wrong direction. This negative self-talk can set off a self-fulfilling prophecy, pushing you into a whirlwind of low-priority tasks, unproductive meetings, and excessive social media scrolling. Your words hold immense power – they shape your mindset and your reality.
By saying “I’m busy”, you convey several unintended messages:
· You’re not in control of your workload.
· You struggle with setting priorities.
· You’re trapped in a cycle of busyness that yields little achievement.
You can be very busy being busy and not achieving much at all. Saying this phrase might deter opportunities from coming your way, as people may hesitate to burden you with more tasks when you already appear overwhelmed. So, ask yourself, how can you ever prioritise success when you are always ‘busy’?
So, what are the alternatives to saying “I’m busy”?
To the question How are you?, instead of saying “I’m busy” you can also try:
1. I’m happy!
2. I’m having a good time!
3. I’m enjoying life!
Pair these responses with a warm smile to create a welcoming feel. Alternatively, you can also be more specific about what’s going on or point to something that you’ve just achieved:
1. I’m excited about my new project at work!
2. Proud to have my new website up!
3. 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 engaging conversation.
Navigating the “Busy Are You?” Question
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!” This answer invites discussion and allows you to share the exciting projects and endeavours in your life.
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 so, I go home and think of how to get back to “having fun” and I recommit to prioritise success in both my personal and work life 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, Google Play or Kobo.
 Amazon is not available in Singapore, so you might want to try the others if you’re living here