Stop Saying “Busy!”

What if I told you that you could be more relaxed, more focused, more calm – and actually discover more time in your day – without using any drugs, alcohol, counseling, diet, exercise program or mediation technique? Would you believe me?

by Bob Tipton

Actually, I have found ALL of those benefits – by doing one small, simple thing.

I eliminated the word “BUSY” from my vocabulary. Poof, gone – about 18 months ago.

Okay – before you say, “sure – that sounds too simple…” Yes, it’s simple – but I found it to be excruciatingly difficult! (I don’t know about you, but sometimes simple things are the opposite of easy things.)

Why was it so hard for me?

Two primary reasons. First, what’s your typical response when someone asks, “how are you?” Does the word “BUSY” pop out automatically? I find it does for many people, maybe even MOST people – like me. Or how about when you’re asked, “how was your weekend?” Or, “what’s your week like?” You name the question, and far too many of us give the answer, “busy.”

As such, it’s become shorthand for an overscheduled life – and leads us to the second reason we use it so frequently. “Busy” has become almost a badge of honor in our society – being (or appearing) busy is the goal, packing our schedules is the mantra, and having it all is our life’s plan. Right?

Until we discover we’ve been sold a bill of goods… We can’t have it all, and by trying to cram too much into our days, weeks, and months, we actually find we suck at doing most things very well.

Try doing this instead.

For the next 24 hours, eliminate “busy” from your vocabulary. Don’t say it, don’t text it, don’t email it. Don’t use it. Be intentional and disciplined. After all, we can do anything for 24 hours, right?

Try these words instead… When someone asks you, “How are you?” respond with, “I’m enjoying my day.” Then they’ll say, “not me – I’m just so busy. You?”

Oh – now it gets more difficult. They’ve put the busy word on the table like an ante for a poker game – you’re supposed to see “their busy” and raise it with your “own busy…” But, don’t fall into the old habit. Instead, say this to them – “For the next 24 hours, I’m taking the word ‘busy’ out of my vocabulary.”

They’d look at me with their head cocked to the side with an expression that said, “Seriously? How can you do that?”

That’s when my resolve would be tested… After all, not playing the BUSY poker game is a bit like driving 40MPH in the left lane of the highway, or turning around and staring INTO the elevator as you’re riding it – it’s just socially unacceptable behavior!

No matter. I decided I going to stick with it, and I’m glad I did.

How’d it go? Were you 100% successful? If you were like me, the first day was brutal. I constantly found myself reverting in my mind, and it took resolve and practice to REALLY stop using the word – especially in my emails and text messages. Wow!

Okay – 24 hours. Now, let’s make it a week.

Keep smiling. You can do it!

And – here’s something that I found helped me immensely – and by doing this, it was then that I started realizing big benefits by blowing away “busy.”


When people expected me to use “busy” in response to their question, I went a step further. I told them this, “I’ve decided to never be busy again.” Boom! You should have seen their facial expressions – they were convinced I’d gone off the deep end. And maybe I had – but I was relentless.

Before they shook their heads and walked away from me – repeating something like, “poor Bob – he’s lost it…” – I followed up by saying, “I’ve decided to fill my schedule with productive things. I’m never busy – I can have days filled with productivity instead. I can be active, but I’m never busy.”

My oh my, the conversation changed BIG TIME at this point. I heard incredibly positive things from most people when I said “I’m productive, or active, but never busy.” I heard this frequently, “Now, there’s a different way to approach things… I like that.”

Maybe you’re having similar thoughts…

And, if you’re like me – after spending time first eliminating the word busy from your vocabulary, and then replacing “busy-ness” with productivity, you’ll find you’re more energetic, more calm, more relaxed – and have FAR more time in your day.

It’s simple, really. Just not easy.

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