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I’m busy. You’re busy. We’re all busy. Everybody’s “busy,” but what are we really communicating to those around us when we use that word?

Somewhere along the line, “busy” has become synonymous with “success.” A status symbol that indicates that we are a valuable commodity, sought after in the world.

I’m just as guilty as you are of overusing the word “busy” to describe my state. A few weeks ago, I was sitting in Atlanta traffic when I had an epiphany – using the word “busy” doesn’t help my cause at all – if anything I think it hurts me.

If I simply say that I’m “busy” or “too busy”, what am I really saying? There is no purpose in busy, no onward direction, no value. Busy is simply a cheap, filler word that conveys that I’m doing “stuff,” but offers no forward momentum. The image that comes to mind is of someone just running around in circles taking up time and space, with no real result or intention.

Right then and there, amongst the hustle and bustle of cars carrying their owners to their next appointment, I made a choice to change my vocabulary and I’m inviting you to do the same.

Here are two ways to be better than busy:

1. Use more purposeful words that convey positivity. Here at Riverbend, we are going to be more than busy, we are  “in demand” or “in high season.” We will say “no” to things not because we’re too busy, but because we are “already committed elsewhere.”

Those simple phrase changes evoke a more positive and inspiring work environment internally AND better articulates reality. Additionally, those phrases have positive impact externally – they further attract others. People want to work with people who are in demand and who value their commitments.

2. Evaluate and refine how time is spent. It’s not enough to be busy …. The question is, what are we busy about? – Henry David Thoreau. Perhaps you really are just “busy” and wasting minutes that could be used to propel you forward. Get out a journal or sign-up for Toggl and track your hours for 2 weeks – honestly. Then compare where and what you are spending your time on with your purpose, goals, and priorities. My guess is there are activities contributing to your “busy-ness” that need to go. Eliminating items that are not contributing to your goals and priorities will help you feel “productive” instead of merely “busy.”

Changing the “busy” habit takes practice (and accountability). I catch myself sometimes as the “b” word is rolling off my tongue – but the awareness and the mindset shift is already working. Just by being mindful of how and why I use this word, I am making better choices on how to spend my time and feel more inspired about where my time is being spent.

I encourage you to also rethink how and why you use this word; perhaps even eliminate it out of your lexicon altogether. The reward might just be more time back in your busy fulfilled life!

Author Doreen Linneman

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