Theresa Phan recently graduated with a B.A. in Psychology. She is a certified AFAA Personal Trainer, a black belt in Taekwondo, and owns her own Etsy store, Macera Designs, selling handcrafted items. She was blessed to grow up in Germany, Thailand, and Malaysia, visiting over 21 countries (averaging one country for every year she’s been alive) during that time. “Home” is not a word she uses in a singular context because her ‘homes’ are scattered across the globe. She is now pursuing her MBA in Healthcare, working as a freelance writer, and is employed as an ABA therapist with autistic children. When she is not tackling her to-do-list, she is travelling, planning her next adventure, or telling people about Christ.
Do you ever catch yourself saying one word too much? You are very self-aware of that word coming out of your mouth more times than it should, but it seems like it just slips out before you can help yourself? For me, that word is “busy.” Here are just some of the variations of that word I used last week:
Wednesday: I got a call from a mom asking me to tutor her son.
My response: “No I’m sorry I don’t have time—I’m too busy.”
Thursday: At lunch, my grandma and I were chatting about all I had to do today.
I told her, “You don’t understand how busy my life is.”
Friday: I went to meet up with my friends and we were updating each other about
I told them, “I wish there were more hours in the day so I wouldn’t be so busy!”
Most people I know say that they are busy. I have friends that only take 12 units, aren’t involved in any extracurricular activities, and say that they are busy. I also have friends that are taking 21 units, are involved in several extracurricular activities, and also say that they are busy.
How can this be? In this culture of busy, “busy” can often be a substitute for other things such as being overwhelmed, stressed, or even, dare I say it—lazy. Being “busy” makes us feel important—we have places to be and people to see—and we want people to know it. We want others to know that we don’t just sit around, waiting for their text to go to the movies. We need to have that air of importance, of having that power to decline an invite if need be. “Busy” can be an excuse and it can also be a lifestyle—a destructive one if it is not managed.
A friend recently challenged me to stop using the word “busy”. As a Psychology major, I see the power of one’s mindset play out in how we live our lives. If we tell ourselves that we are busy and aren’t able to do anything, our life will reflect that. But if we stop using the word “busy” as an excuse and as a crutch, it can change how we manage our time. That is why I have decided I’m going to take my friend up on her challenge to stop using the word “busy”. I’m going to try to omit that word from my vocabulary and forget it exists (Sorry Merriam-Webster!).
There are all sorts of articles out there on how to eradicate busyness or how to manage it. I think they are very valuable and worth reading. But in addition to learning time management, I believe it is about your mindset. If things like spending quality time with loved ones, reading a book, or reflecting on faith and meaning are priorities, then we won’t use the excuse of “busy” to do those things. We will allocate the right amount of time for them.
So a tip for all you busy folk out there who feel like they can’t get out of the rut of “busy”: Stop saying you’re busy! Let’s change this culture of busy, and make it a culture of deeper conversations, louder laughs, and more meaningful relationships.