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Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much can be done if we are always doing 

                                                                         – Thomas Jefferson


People treat busy as though it validates the importance of their lives. When we are asked to take on another committee, meeting, client, or social event we pride ourselves on being able to say “No, I am too busy to handle anything else.” The truth is, too busy really means it’s not a priority of mine…and that is okay. You just need to be honest with yourself and others about what you are saying.

Over simplified analogy:  A friendly acquaintance asks you to dinner on Wednesday evening.  You were going to use the evening to catch up on work, read to your kids…whatever. So, you politely decline stating you are busy that evening. The acquaintance says she understands and hopes to run into you soon. Simple enough, right?

Now, the same friendly acquaintance calls you and asks you to dinner on  Wednesday evening.  This time she says, “I want to give you a new Kate Spade purse to go with the new Jimmy Choo shoes I bought for you.” Would you make time to go to dinner? I bet you would. By putting a reward on showing up for dinner, your priorities have changed, and you can find the time to show up.

Recently, I received a request from a local organization about leading a workshop on goal and role clarification. Their timeline is in the next few weeks. I have a new product line rolling out,  a small business program proposal due, a new program launch, the reveal of a new organizational structure for a committee that I chair, management roles of a very large Meet Up group, and have a sponsorship obligation for a very big fundraiser for one of my favorite charities.  In other words: I am busy.  However, I will absolutely lead their workshop. Why?

Here’s my thought process:

  1. Do I like the organization and their work?
  2. Is this something that can possibly help my business?
  3. Is it a project I would enjoy?
  4. What is the real time commitment involved in leading the workshop?
  5. What, if anything, would I have to give up in order to take on the project?

I very easily could have said I was too busy, but that would have been a lie. I find the time to do what is important to me.

My challenge to you is this:  First, realize you only irritate people when you talk about how busy you are.  Second, don’t say no.  Instead, simply decline by stating whatever you are saying no to isn’t a priority right now. If you still think you are too busy for anymore priorities, try cutting out a few of the below tasks and see if you can find more time in your schedule.

  1. Quit watching TV. Nothing more needs to be said.
  2. Get off Facebook. I promise you nothing important has happened in the last 15 minutes since you last checked.
  3. Turn your phone on do not disturb. It is rude to look at your phone when you are talking with someone. It is also an interruption to work time when you keep it right by your side.

You know the old saying you can do anything but not everything at once? I disagree. If you start looking at your time, quit calling yourself busy, and start prioritizing, you will realize you aren’t as busy as you think and you can start filling your calendar with only the activities you deem as a priority in your life. You will be amazed at just how much time you really have.