Leadership

Why you should stop telling people you're so busy

Mary Tyler Moore
CBS Photo Archive | Getty Images

These days everyone wants to tell you how busy they are. And for good reason: Americans work on average 44 hours per week and, in some industries, it's more like 60 hours. Of course, it's only natural for folks to talk about their full schedules. But constantly harping about your busyness can actually have adverse consequences.

Here are a few reasons why you should stop telling folks that you're so busy.

First, you may be bragging

When you tell people about the millions of things going on, you might be sending the message "Look at all my obligations and responsibilities. I am productive, industrious, accomplished and successful." By sharing with others that you're so busy, you inevitably place the focus on yourself and invite the attention and recognition of others.

Moreover, when folks ask "How are you?" and you respond "I'm busy," you might be signaling that you don't want to talk to them. Instead of telling people how hectic and hardworking you are, take the time to ask them questions. You can always make time to get to know people, create friendships and deepen relationships.

Second, busyness isn't remarkable

Everyone is busy. Your calendar doesn't make you special. So don't go around saying "I'm busier than you" or comparing your schedule to others. If you're trying to stand out in your business career, you're not going to separate from the pack by telling folks how busy you are. Instead of being a badge of success, busyness may send the signal to your enlightened colleagues and associates that you aren't working smart.

If you knew how to be more efficient at your job, you could achieve a better work-life balance. As entrepreneur Jason Fried writes in "Rework": "Workaholics aren't heroes. They don't save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is home because she figured out a faster way."

Google and 3M insist that their employees have "free time" to work on their own projects. It's in these moments of idleness that your mind might stumble upon a truly new idea.

Third, busyness closes doors

When people think you're too busy, they won't present you with opportunities. You want people thinking of you when a truly amazing opportunity emerges. You may have heard the mantra, "If you want something done, give it to a busy person."

Indeed, let people know that you will make time for important things. When folks ask, "How are you?" you can respond by saying, "Looking for opportunities." This response will no doubt spark a deeper conversation that could lead to more and better prospects.

Chopra is the author of The Healing Self with Rudolph E. Tanzi, the founder of The Chopra Foundation, co-founder of Jiyo and The Chopra Center for Wellbeing. Sehgal is a New York Times bestselling author, former vice president at JPMorgan Chase, multi-Grammy Award winner, and U.S. Navy veteran. Chopra and Sehgal created Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome, inspired by American immigrants.

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