Communication, Live / Work

How To Say You’re Busy, Part 2

October 1, 2015

This is the second post in a two-part series titled “How to say you’re busy.” Missed Part 1? Check out the “Different Types of Busy” here!

The biggest mistake that everyone makes is not saying it at all. There’s a couple goblins going on here:

  • Fearing repercussions (like getting fired, which is unlikely)
  • Pride (I got this! I can do it!)
  • Naivete (I got this! I can do it!)

Keeping mum about how overloaded you are is the biggest barrier you can put up to successfully surviving this shitstorm. But how you say it is important too – you don’t want to just blurt it out.

So the first step is to know how you’re feeling about the busy. You probably felt overwhelmed and anxious when you first realized how busy you are. Then maybe anger, either at yourself or at whoever loaded up that list of yours. Where you want to arrive at is something like defeat, but without all the crummy loser baggage that goes along with that word. I like to call it: catharsis. This is where you accept your situation, realize that blaming anyone is not going to solve the problem, and you’re ready to hunker down and tackle the work. This is when you ask for help.

Asking for help isn’t the same as delegating tasks. It’s as simple as saying: “Miss Boss-lady/Dear Spouse/Kids/Co-workers: I’m really busy.”

You went through those steps of catharsis, right? That means that this did not come out stressed, or angry. It should come out like an observation, like how “It’s raining outside” might sound. It’s a little bit of a bummer, but you’re sharing useful information that should be pretty relevant to the person listening.

So what kind of help can you ask for? Help can be as simple as understanding — asking for your partner to not get mad at you for being absent over the next several days, and to respect your need to get things done by staying out of your way.

Help might come in the form of lending you a hand in non-related parts of your life. Got a huge work deadline? That doesn’t magically make the dirty dishes at home go away. But asking for help can.

Help could be a second brain coming up with creative solutions to either lessen your to-do list, or to work smarter and more efficiently. Decide whether you will likely benefit from this type of brainstorming, and cut it off quickly but graciously if you’re sure that the busy is already as un-busy as it can be.

Finally, share your plan. You have one, right? Even if that plan is just to not sleep and work all week, share it so others can adjust around you and come up with their own ways to mindfully support you. And then work. Work your butt off. So you can get back to un-busy again.


Also published on Medium.

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