Why do so many people these days whine and complain that they are so “busy”? Why do these confabulators use their purported busyness as an excuse to neglect, ignore or not respond to their fellow human beings?
You would think that in these modern times, where virtually everything is automated and moving at the speed of light, there should be no likelihood of being overscheduled, overextended, overburdened or overcommitted. And yet, you get these lame grumbles of being so “super busy”, “overly busy”, “absurdly busy” or “insanely busy”. Even just saying “busy” isn’t sufficient.
This might be a shock for those busy bees, but people that hide behind this facade of busyness are blatant fibbers that are either incompetent, disorganized, over the top, confused, chaotic, cuckoo, unbalanced, or all of the above in a delicate mix of mental disarray.
Nobody is really interested to hear how busy you are, as if the person you are telling this to can never be as busy as you are, let alone even be busier. Going on and on in detail about your busyness is not a productive way to have a dialogue. Whining never leads anywhere. No one is going to react by saying that you really have it especially bad, that they heard dramatic stories from busy people, but that your busyness beats them all. OK, if your goal is not being pitied, then what is your goal? Excuse your incompetence to manage your time and pretend to not be chaotic?
Interestingly, most people who are truly busy, with their work, family, sport, or whatever, rarely play the “too busy” card. These bustling souls tend to go out of their way to make time for a meaningful conversation exactly because they are truly busy. Performance depends on efficiency, self-control and the occasional time-out, not pretending to work 14 hours non-stop, day after day.
As Henry Thoreau wrote “It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” Even though many people want to give the impression that they are busy with loads of important and urgent work, they probably are busy writing elaborate To-do lists, daydreaming, gossiping at the water cooler, texting about nothing, spinning in the gym, chowing their fast food junk (a relaxed, sit-down meal is frowned upon by busy beavers), taking their kids to or from school or sports, watching YouTube clips of cute or grumpy cats, updating their Facebook page, trolling on Twitter, making contacts on LinkedIn, taking selfies, flipping through Instagram, playing Crazy Bird, tracing their ancestry, or getting plastered.
The problem is that many think that, if they say they are busy all the time, or at least do as if they are, people will be in awe, admiring their dedication, their perpetual drive to perform and produce. The reality is that these wannabe busy bees demonstrate exactly the opposite: that they are incompetent, chaotic drama queens. Their inability to be proficient is a perfect example of the Peter Principle makeup.
If you can’t think, can’t communicate, can’t listen, if you hide yourself behind a self-erected wall of busyness, if you close yourself off, ignorant of the world and people around you, you made yourself irrelevant. You will never progress. You will become a useless appendix in a world that does not know you even exist, with no future, only your self-made cocoon of that image of busyness you try to portray.
I have experienced people who consistently said they would get back to me on a given date, even sent invites to my calendar with time and place to meet. Not showing up is infuriating. Canceling a day or a few hours beforehand is insulting. Worst is the ensuing busyness excuse: “Sorry we couldn’t meet. I was too busy.” Yes, sure. Just plain rude, incompetent, or both. Civility and a sense of integrity make all the difference to me.
I lose respect for people whose word doesn't mean a thing. I end up feeling manipulated when someone says they are going to do something, and then don't do it. There may be a valid reason they didn't do what they said they were going to do, but if it happens over and over again under the “busy” pretext, such persons are unreliable, and my respect for them vanishes.
If you want to feel respected by others, then you need to say yes when you mean yes, and no when you mean no, and not allow your fear of rejection or your fear of being controlled to get in the way of being a trustworthy person. Some people just can’t let go and get bogged down into that busy-busy-busy spiral.
Afraid to come across as a person that can’t do the job or complete a specific task? Maybe you truly can’t, maybe you can. Perhaps you really have too much on your plate. So, delegate! Delegating is an art. If performed well, it can be a big relief. You can save time, efforts and money, and focus on other matters. Have someone else (that may even be better at it) take on the task. It can be a win-win situation for both sides. It is no shame to delegate, really. In fact, if you have the brains and guts to delegate, it is seen as a sign that you aim for results, and not that you are in fact trying to shelter your purported power to be in charge, at all cost.
Give it a try, open up, and move out of your busyness sanctuary, wasting time on things you can’t or even don’t want to do. Delegate, and hand over urgent and important matters to a colleague or your number two. And if you don’t have any, engage an outside consultant that can do the job for you, fast and efficiently. That’s why we exist. That’s our business. Try us. You may be positively surprised.