The other day I was on the phone with a friend, we were talking about plans for an event coming up we were hosting together when she stopped me dead in my thoughts with the four most annoying words I hear almost everyday: “I’m just so busy.” Immediately, I roll my eyes (we were on the phone, so she didn’t see it), and felt a little fire in the bottom of my stomach with the thought of that phrase. Honestly, at first, I almost said what most probably do, “Oh, tell me about it, I am sooooo busy too!” Because I am! But I didn’t. It was then that I decided that I am going to stop, or at least try very hard to, saying that dreaded phrase. My reasoning behind it is simple, if that short little statement sent me into a tailspin of annoyance and my imagination into over drive of myself reaching through the phone and slapping the other end for being so selfish… what does it do to the people I say it to? After all, my time is important too.

In a world where we see people with their cell phones in their faces while driving/walking/sitting/talking on a daily basis, email inboxes with hundreds of unopened messages, facebook feeds with so many invites to read into; take a quiz to find out what kind of animal our soul is, and just a general overwhelming feeling of our cultures over activeness, how do we not become so busy? I’ve tried to take an approach that I’m sure many people have used before and list out my day, dash by dash, hour and minute allotted to each task to make sure I get all of said tasks completed in the time frame I’ve given myself to complete them. Sure, that works for lot’s of things, but not for everything. For some, being busy is a way of life that they hold dearly to for a piece of fulfillment that quenches their internal motor, but what about those who don’t?  How do we stay productive and not become too busy that we hold it as the crux of our being?

I’ve summed it to this: Busy is selfishness. Being selfish is not a bad thing. But using busy to be selfish is annoying. The next time you feel those letters brewing in your mind when someone on the other end is filling your cup that is already runneth over with more to do, refrain from letting those letters form into words and roll off your lips. Instead, use honesty. Come to find out, the person on the other end of the phone that day, had just been given a new assignment by her boss that was due by the end of the week. She really didn’t have the time to do what we were talking about in the time it needed to be done. Knowing that, I would’ve had a better understanding of her time constraints and found a way to not place that task with her.

It takes thoughtfulness to be honest, and in the long-run, you’ll gain some respect for yourself and from others.

*A talented blogger, Seth Godin has shared his thoughts on being busy as well, you can read his take on it here: Two Kinds of Busy