Is Busy the New Black?

By Coach KB

I was inspired to write this blog by Coach Mel’s blog post about 3 Quick and Healthy Breakfasts. The main premise was that we all want to be healthier in the new year, but none of us actually has any more time or skills than we had on December 31. Literally nothing changed from 11:59pm on 12/31/2015 to 12:01am on 01/01/2016, except our mindset.

Given that ALL of us are really busy and NONE of us has any more time and that ALL of us want to be better, healthier people but NONE of us wants to give up any of our routines and comforts, then maybe we need to focus on what the only thing was to actually change in those first few moments of the new year - our mindset.

“Words can inspire. And words can destroy. Choose yours well.” - Robin Sharma

The words we choose to say to ourselves and others have incredible power. Truly none of our resolutions will actually become a reality unless we invoke real change in our mindset about who we are related to those things. But even more tangible, consider how a single sentence can cause someone to feel content in one moment and miserable in the next. How many arguments have ensued, even relationships ended, because of something someone said?

Humans are relationship-oriented; we place a lot of value on the people we choose to share our lives with, including ourselves! We continually strive toward developing deeper relationships with our friends and partners and getting to know ourselves better. Since we have established that it is often our words that cause rifts in these relationships, I’m going to focus on one word that is especially toxic in our efforts to build positive relationships and habits in our lives. This four-letter word is insidious - everyone says it. It can be dismissive to others and stressful to ourselves. I’ll save you any more suspense since I know you’re all busy. The word is just that: BUSY. 

Busy is the new black. 

-“Hi KB, how’s it going?”
-“Oh fine, I’ve just been really busy, you know? So much to do with the business, our new house, our dogs...”
-“Oh, totally. So busy.”
-“Yup.”
-“Alright, well, I guess I’ll let you get back to it!”

This might come as a newsflash - we are all really busy. Or at least we all might feel really busy. We all have lives with responsibilities and grown-up things to take care of. But being “busy” has become something more than having day-to-day tasks that take up our time. Busy has become the new pleasantry to exchange when we don’t really want to talk to someone and need a reason to get out of the conversation pretty quickly. If we say we’re busy then the other person will feel bad taking up our precious time and move on with their day, leaving us to get back to whatever “important” tasks are making us so busy. 

When it comes to building relationships with people, new relationships or even already established important ones, “busy” can be one of the most hurtful words because it is so dismissive. Consider if the previous conversation had gone like this:

-“Hi KB, I’ve texted a few times but haven’t heard back. How’s it going?”
-“Oh fine, I’ve just been really busy, you know? So much to do with the business, our new house, our dogs...”
-“Oh, totally. So busy. Are you free Friday morning to squeeze in a coffee date?”
-“Oh, maybe. I’ll have to check my calendar. I’m just so busy lately!”
-“Alright, well, let me know. I guess I’ll let you get back to it.”

If you keep telling people you are so busy, you might soon not have anybody left to tell that you are busy!

When it comes to our own goals and habits, this busy-mindset can get in the way of accomplishing new things and becoming the person we want to be. If we constantly frame our lives around the idea that we are SO busy, how will we ever have the space for new possibilities? How many times have you said something along the lines of: 

-“I want to eat healthier, but I’m too busy to cook. And I’m so busy I have to take a working lunch and eat breakfast in the car, if at all.”
-“I would love to spend more time with my nieces and nephews but I’m just so busy.”
-“I’m just too busy to make it to the gym this week.”
-“I’ve always wanted to learn how to knit but I’m too busy to have the free time to learn.”

If you keep telling yourself how busy you are with what you are already doing, you will never do or be anything different than you are now. 

Luckily, there are a few steps to tackle the busy-mindset and create better, healthier relationships with others and ourself:

First, examine if you are truly busy or not. A busy schedule is one that is packed with mandatory obligations from the minute you wake up to the minute you go to sleep, with maybe just enough time to shovel some food in your face and kiss your partner good-night. Rushing around everywhere does not mean you are busy; it means you have poor time management. Most of us have time during the day where there is nothing we have to be doing. During this down-time we can be found checking Facebook, crushing candy, or reading this blog. With the exception of reading this blog, of course, your time could be better spent checking in and catching up with the important people in our lives, even with a text message. These small, but significant gestures keep our relationships thriving and show your loved ones that, despite your busy schedule, you still have time for them. You can also use this time to show yourself that you have time for you. Build in time for the gym or for learning how to knit. 

In the case of when you tell people for the ninth time that you can’t get coffee or didn’t return their call because you are too busy you should always provide a reason as to why you were too busy at that time (you have an appointment or you already committed to going to the gym at that time, for example). You should also always try to schedule a different time that will work for your schedule. To get the best of both worlds, you can even offer for them to join you at the gym or to learn how to knit with you on Friday night. The effort you put into maintaining this connected relationship with yourself and with others is key to showing that it is important. How different does the conversation feel with just a few small, but important changes:

-“Hi KB, I’ve texted a few times but haven’t heard back. How’s it going?”
-“Oh fine, thanks for checking in. I got your messages when I was teaching and it honestly just slipped my mind to get back to you after class was over.”
-“Oh, totally. We’re all busy. Are you free Friday morning to squeeze in a coffee date?”
-“I already committed to working out on Friday morning. Want to join me for that instead of coffee? Or I know I have some time next Tuesday morning.”
-“Sounds good. Let’s do it!”

Providing reasons and options, even if the reason is that you just forgot, makes everything sound better. 

Finally, examine if you really have been too busy or if you have just been too busy for them. Sometimes we just get caught up in the stress of life and forget to take care of our important relationships. And sometimes we just don’t want to be that close of friends with someone. In this case, since we have so many grown-up tasks on our plate, we can certainly make one of them to put on our grown-up pants and have a difficult conversation. It is never easy, but people deserve honesty and respect. It is not honest or respectful to keep telling someone you are busy when you really don’t want to spend time with them. The hardest of these conversations you will have to have is the one with yourself. Are you truly too busy to cook your meals or do you just not care about your health that much? You have to look at yourself square in the face and decide if you are too busy to make your resolutions happen. 

Maybe that difficult conversation starts here. If you have made it all the way to this sentence in the blog, you are not busy. You have time. The next time you find yourself telling yourself or others how busy you are, examine what you really mean by that. Our minds really do follow our mouths. What we say becomes what we do. What can you say differently in this new year that will build healthy habits with your time and energy? Being busy is not cool. Make healthy relationships and habits the new black.