How much time do you spend each day thinking about, worrying about, talking about or planning for being ,busy overworking, and not having enough time?

I suspect it’s more than you think.

It can actually cause us to lose up to 2 hours of time each day.  How?

It’s all about how we feel about the busy-ness.

When you think of yourself as busy, you are spending unproductive time talking about busy-ness.  But that’s not the biggest impact.  When you talk about and think about being busy, it impacts how you feel. 

Thinking you are busy causes us to feel: Lousy.  Overwhelmed.  Discouraged. 

Me too.

And when you feel lousy, overwhelmed or discouraged, what do you do?  

Most of us do things to try to calm ourselves down. (Not usually work)  Maybe we take a walk, go get a cup of coffee or tea;  grab a snack.  Relax a moment with a game or on social media.  You might reach out to a friend to talk to and let off steam. 

We turn to things we think of as self care, which usually isn’t progress on our work.  

And yes, self care when we feel lousy is important.

So we think of ourselves as being very busy, and we feel lousy, and then we spend time calming ourselves down.  And we know that self care is important and a priority.  That all takes up time, and it doesn’t make progress on our “busy” list.  Busy-overwhelmed-calming back to busy…. It starts to feel like an endless loop we can’t break out of. 

Is it hopeless?  Absolutely not.

The best news is that Feeling lousy, overwhelmed and discouraged about the things on our list of things to do is completely optional.

A list of things to do is totally neutral.  It’s isn’t good, bad, not enough, or overwhelming and busy.  It only becomes that way because of what we THINK about it.  Thinking we are busy is the part that is discouraging.

You can save yourself discouragement AND create time by changing your mindset about your work.

Stop talking about your busy-ness because it makes you MORE busy. 

These types of conversations don’t assist progress; they hold everyone up instead by draining energy and creating overwhelm.


When someone asks you how your day is:  Try saying these things instead.

  • Today is full of things I am looking forward to doing.
  • I’m making it a productive day.
  • I’m getting some important things done today.
  • I am taking time for what’s important.
  • I am lucky to have many activities to choose from.
  • I’m excited to complete this one task with you today.
  • I’m getting work done today.
  • I’m focusing on one thing at a time.

I want you to notice the difference in how you feel when you think ” I’m busy” as compared to those other phrases.  Do the new phrases feel slightly better?  Do they feel a little less overwhelming?  More motivating?  Less lousy?

For me they do.  It feels better to talk about what I will be getting done, and that I’m focused on what is important, than It does to talk about what I HAVE to do and how busy I am (even though often they are the same tasks)

Choosing how to talk about my work creates less overwhelm and therefore less time that I need to spend calming myself down.  I think managing my mind in this way is proactive self care.  (Rather than reactive self care… which takes more time)

And not only that.

It can have a larger positive impact on others too.

Going back to talking about being busy.  Think about how you feel when someone else is talking about how busy they are.  

  1. You commiserate with them and offer up sympathy because you know what it’s like to feel busy (and then feel discouraged)
  2. You offer help.  Sometimes you take on more and over extend yourself further (and feel overwhelmed)
  3. You get annoyed with them because you are definitely way busier than they are so who are they to complain? (And you feel lousy)
  4. You tolerate their statements and then move on to get some work done.  (and you might feel irritated)

So if others talking to us about their own busy-ness results in us thinking in ways that create negative emotion and a need to take breaks for self care… Perhaps shifting your own vocabulary about your work can result in a more positive environment for yourself AND others at work.

I am not telling you to never talk about being busy and overwhelmed.  Most of us need to blow off steam.  We can do this with our friends.  I am saying that there are many of us who use this type of discussion about being busy as our default small talk.  And it creates discouraging emotions that rob us of progress and rub off on others.

So, decide to try to notice how often you talk about being busy, and how often you’re spending time on self care activities because you are calming yourself down from thinking you are busy.  

And then decide to stop talking about being busy.  It doesn’t serve you at all and it can create a negative ripple effect on those around you.

So how much time do you lose talking about being busy?

Instead of talking about busy-ness, you can borrow one of my above phrases to talk about your task list or you can create your own.  The key is that you choose something that feels better than ” I am so busy”, moves you forward and requires less time to calm yourself down.

So, how is my week this week?  

It’s busy. 

In other words, It is full of activity, filled with important work for myself and my family, as well as projects that will help me and my team move forward.  I’m looking forward to focusing on what’s most important.  It will be fun.

All of this is totally true.

Many of these thoughts feel so much better than “It’s busy”

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