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Busy is a Decision

By Debbie Millman


Of the many, many excuses people use to rationalize why they can’t do something, the excuse “I am too busy” is not only the most inauthentic, it is also the laziest. I don’t believe in “too busy.” I think that busy is a decision. If we say we are too busy, it is shorthand for “not important enough.” It means you would rather be doing something else that you consider more important. That “thing” could be sleep or it could be binge-watching your favorite show. If we use busy as an excuse for not doing something, what, we are really saying is that it’s not a priority.

Simply put: you don’t find the time to do something; you make the time to do things.

We are now living in a society that sees busy as a badge. It has become cultural cache to use the excuse “I am too busy,” as a reason for not doing anything we don’t feel like doing. The problem is this: if you let yourself off the hook for not doing something for ANY reason, you won’t ever do it. If you want to do something, you can’t let being busy stand in the way, even if you are busy. Make the time to do the things you want to do and then do them.

Ask yourself these questions the next time you are “too busy” to do something:

Is the task I am using as an excuse to NOT do the task I want to do legitimately a priority? Do I really need to be doing this NOW?

If the answer is yes, then ask yourself the following:

How can I reorganize my time to allow for space to do this other thing that is really important to me? What can I give up that is not as important to ensure that I can make the time to do it?

If the answer is no, then ask yourself the following:

Why am I procrastinating? What am I avoiding? Why am I creating obstacles to stand in the way of my doing the task I want to be doing? Am I lying to myself about really wanting it? Why am I so reluctant to get started?

Be as honest with yourself as you can as you think about these questions. Really own the answers. See where they take you.

This post was created in collaboration with National Car Rental, which provides a premium, expedited car rental experience to road warriors around the world. All opinions expressed in this post are my own and not those of National Car Rental.

All proceeds for this work are being donated to the Design Matters Institute, which funds scholarships for students at the School of Visual Arts.

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