“I’m Busy” is a BS Excuse; a Lesson From My 7 Year Old Son

My schedule for the day goes something like this:

  • 5 AM: up and to the gym
  • 6:30 AM: home, showered, changed, lookin’ adequate
  • 6:50 AM: making the kids’ breakfast, find socks, pack bags, and make myself coffee before I lose my mind
  • 7:48 AM: at work
  • Noon: Lunch maybe, or just more work; depends on the day
  • 4:45(ish) PM: leave work
  • 5 PM: quick dinner and out the door again to swimming, a practice, church council, who knows OR open laptop, start working on something (writing articles, working on something for church council where I’m the president, PMI presentation, Cub Scout information since I’m a den leader, etc)
  • 7:40 PM: sit down with the family for a little bit
  • 8 PM: receive BS email that is “urgent” and needs response tonight
  • 8:52 PM: kids to bed (this can be a lengthy process)
  • 10 PM: bedtime for me with hopefully 15 minutes of time to read before I nod off

Just typing makes me realize life is hectic and we feel like we’re constantly running.  But my 7 year old son taught me a very valuable lesson about priorities recently.

“Dad, can you help me?”  “Dad, can you play Nerf wars?”  “Dad, can you read me a story?”  “Dad, can you spend time with me?”

Without even thinking, my response is usually “I can’t right now buddy.  I’m busy doing [insert random task].”

Well, this time he snapped.  He yelled “YOU’RE ALWAYS TOO BUSY FOR ME!!  WHY DON’T YOU SPEND TIME WITH ME?!  EVERYTHING ELSE IS MORE IMPORTANT!”  With tears in his eyes, he walked off.

Admittedly, I was mad at him at first.  I work my butt off to make money to put food on the table and a roof over our heads.  I’m a church council president and yes, I’m working hard for the congregation.  I write for a couple online publications and have committed to doing so for a few years.  Why is this kid so upset with me?

The answer was simpler than I thought; I used the excuse “I’m Busy” to prioritize other things above what should matter most (in this instance, spending time with my 7 yr old).  “I’m Busy” became my battle cry for not being focused.  “I’m Busy” was the lazy way of saying “I don’t know what I should be doing.”  “I’m Busy” is a bullshit excuse.

Granted, I need to spend some time with my kiddo building relationship capital so when I am very busy and can’t play, he’ll be more understanding.  However, I won’t say “I’m Busy” when I tell him I can’t play.

Now, translate this to work and we hear it all the time.  Maybe a team member needs help and you’re too busy, causing a possible delay in a deliverable.  Or, you need something from your boss and they’re too busy to respond.  Maybe you take the risk and just do what you feel needs to be done, but what if you’re wrong and it’s a costly or time-consuming mistake?  Every time your knee jerk reaction is to say “I’m Busy!!”, take a step back and quickly evaluate your priorities.  Maybe you’re not as busy after all.

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