Q: Hey, how are you?
A: Good. I've been super busy.
Why is being busy our default answer? It seems like every time I ask someone how they’re doing, their first response has something to do with being busy — they wear it like a badge of honor. But, why do we claim to be so damn busy all the time? Is it an excuse? Is it a way to feel important? Just a bad habit maybe?
Let’s use me as an example. I use my “busy” schedule as an excuse all the time. It’s really does feel like a habit at this point — a way to keep the conversation going. But, let’s be honest, I’m not that busy. We all have the same 86,400 seconds per day. It just boils down to how we prioritize them. We make time for the things that we find important. It’s that simple.
Here’s the part where I get all Webster on you. The definition of the word busy is: occupied with or concentrating on a particular activity or object of attention. So, by definition, when we engage in conversation with someone, that person should become our object of attention. Right? Therefore, it’s true, we are busy. But if we do it right, we’re busy with the conversation at hand, not with all the peripherals.
Time to go a level deeper than simple definitions. Admitting that we’re not that busy is surprisingly hard — it means letting go of a reliable excuse. Even more disturbing, it means accepting that we're not that important. Think about it for a minute. Where’s our time going? What or who is suffering because of how busy we are? Will calling our families one more time a month really disrupt our delicate schedules? It shouldn’t because we have more leisure time in 2015 than ever before in the history of mankind.
Back to making an example of myself. I’m trying to talk less about how busy I am. And more importantly, stop using it as an excuse. Truth is, we’re all busy. Some of us are just better about putting people before schedules. So, next time we talk, if I say anything about being busy, call me out. And next time someone asks you how you’re doing, try eliminating busy from your answer.
If you want to read more about our unhealthy obsession with the word busy and how much leisure time we actually have, check out this article from Quartz.