Why I Stopped Using "Busy" as an Excuse

I’m busy. You’re busy. We’re all busy. Busyness is the American way of life. Anyone “not busy” is viewed as either suspect or lazy. I get that, because it’s my reality too. My husband and I both have full-time jobs. We are actively involved in our church. We try to see our friends, our family, exercise, eat right. It all takes time, and time seems to be scarce.

So when I look at my life and feel “busy”, it is an accurate assessment. But I’ve vowed to stop using it as an excuse.

I am by nature type-A. I want to do everything, and I want to do it well. I'm also a bit scatterbrained, so I never seem to get to everything on my to-do list. It's the lethal American combination - "so much to do, so little time."  So, quite naturally, I found myself handing out the “I’m just so busy” excuse just about every day.

Did you get my text? You never responded.” Yes, I’m so sorry. I’m just so busy!

“We should hang out, I haven’t seen you in forever. How about next Saturday?” Maybe! Can I get back to you? (subtext: I am going to put you off so I don’t have to say no, and I will never get back to you.) I’m so busy!

Could you send me that document like you said you would? Yes, oh my gosh I’m so sorry I forgot – I’m just so busy!

It’s easy. It’s natural. It rolls off the tongue and expunges me of any guilt. It’s not my fault, I had great intentions – I’m just so busy!

I don’t think I realized what those words really meant, until recently.

A friend of mine saw me at a party. It had been awhile since we’d hung out, and as we caught up she said, “Friend, I’ve missed you so much! Can we hang out soon? When are you free?” 
I opened my mouth to deliver my familiar phrase, “I don’t know, I’m so busy…” but as I did, a light bulb went off in my head.  I heard what I was really saying, what I really meant.

“I don’t know, you’re just really not important enough for me to bother making time for you.”

 Ouch.

Do we realize that’s what we’re saying when we use “busy” as an excuse? We’re all busy, but we find time for the things we find important – exercise. Date night. Bible study. Church. Those things find their way into our schedule. To use the “busy” excuse is to really say, “You’re not important enough.”

At the same time, priorities are important. We can’t make more time, and we can’t do everything. There is value in saying “No” to some things so that we can say, “Yes” to other things.

But I wonder how often we might actually find time if we were forced to be honest with people and tell them, “I’m sorry, but right now my priorities mean that there just isn’t time for that.”

If we were forced to tell people that they didn’t make the cut into our lives, would we be more careful about the way we spent our time?

I think so.

So I, for one, have vowed to stop using “I’m busy” as an excuse. There may be people I have to turn down, because my time and heart is engaged elsewhere. But I am going to give them the dignity of telling them the real reason I’m saying “no,” rather than passing off a flimsy excuse we can all see through. People deserve the dignity of my honesty, even if I can’t give them my time.

How about you? Will you join me in tossing out the “I’m busy excuse?”

-Emily