Stop Using This Word To Rationalize Your Overload

Posted by Jones Loflin

Merriam Webster defines the word as full of activity or engaged in action. Even if we don’t use it in conversation countless times per week, we certainly think about it multiple times per day. This word has become our “go to” reason for missing deadlines, failing to connect with friends, neglecting time with our families, and even damaging our own personal well-being. If our lives are really feeling out of control, we add the word “crazy” in front of it to make an even bigger statement. And I think it’s time for all of us (myself included) to stop using it so often as an excuse not to make better choices each day. As you have probably figured out by now, the word I am referring to is… BUSY!


Reflect for a moment about all the ways we use busy in conversations with others and the self-talk in our head.

Some examples might include:

  • I just can’t think about that right now. I’m too busy.
  • Sorry that we can’t find a time to get together. We’re all just so busy these days.
  • I’d like to ___________________ (insert self-care activity)but I am too busy this week.

The ultimate problem for me is that when I use the word busy as a reason for not doing something important, it doesn’t force me to dig deeper to the root cause of a life so (over) full of activity. So I just continue to do… well… “busy work”.

Realistically I know you and I can’t totally ban the word from our lexicon, but I do think we can leverage that moment when “busy” is the word we want to use to challenge ourselves to do better. Some solutions include:


Describe what busy looks like.

Creating a mental picture in your mind or articulating it in words to someone else gives you a clearer picture of what’s making you so busy.


busy workFind another word.

Using this approach will force you to take a deeper look at your current situation instead of making a universal observation. One I sometimes use is rushed. (Hint: Doing this will also open the opportunity for a much more productive conversation with those who care about your professional or personal success).


Let “busy” be a trigger word to engage in the Five Whys.

Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Industries, developed this problem-solving technique in the 1930s. The method is simple: When you encounter a problem, you drill down to its root cause by asking “Why” five times. Here’s how it could work when you find yourself wanting to use the word “busy:”


  • Why am I busy? (I have too many activities planned for my day)
  • Why do I have too many activities planned for my day? (I don’t think about how much time tasks will take)
  • Why don’t I think about how much time tasks will take? (I don’t take the time to think about it when making my list)
  • Why don’t I take the time to think about it when making my list? (I mentally make my list while driving to work)
  • Why do I make my list while mentally driving to work? (I won’t take the time to do it the night before or first thing in the morning)


Having reached the root cause of your problem, you could now take concrete action to improve your situation. You might start adding a time allotment for each task, change the time when you are planning, and/or keep a time log for a few days to see what’s taking up so much of your time.

The goal for me in challenging my overuse of the word “busy” is to stop the rationalization of poor choices, ineffective planning, or an unwillingness to change my attitudes or behaviors. Don’t get me wrong, I want my life to be full of activity. I just want the activities to be ones that enable me to be fully present in each moment, focused on my highest priorities, and knowing that I am having the desired impact on my world each day. I wish the same for you.


Interested in booking Jones Loflin? Visit or call our office at 1.800.345.5607 for more information.

Posted by Jones Loflin
Jones Loflin has made it his life’s work to deliver powerful ideas and practical solutions to individuals and organizations struggling with too much to do. His books are described as “illuminating” and his presentations as “unforgettable.” In his 24 years as a speaker and trainer he has helped countless people regain confidence in their ability to achieve greater success in work and life...

Subscribe to our blog

Stay up to date on all the latest news at Eagles Talent

By continuing to browse, you consent to our use of cookies. To know more, please view our Privacy Policy. Hide