Busy is a decision. Or is it really that simple?


I’m currently listening to the audiobook, Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferris. 

For guidance as well as to up his game, Tim reached out to his A-list of achievers (Larry King, Ray Dalio, Ben Stiller, Ayaan Hirsi Ali) and asked them a list of perceptive, insightful questions.

He asks questions like:

  • What is the book that you most gave away as a gift and why?
  • How has a failure set you up for later success? Do you have a favourite failure?
  • What advice would you give to a smart, driven, young college student graduating?

He’s compiled these answers into the thought-provoking volume, Tribe of Mentors. One of his questions is, “If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say and why?”

Debbie Millman (writer, designer, and artist) answered: â€œMy billboard would say, Busy is a decision.“ 

She explains:

“Of the many, many excuses people use to rationalize why they can’t do something, the excuse “I am too busy” is not only the most inauthentic, it is also the laziest. I don’t believe in “too busy.” Like I said, busy is a decision. We do the things we want to do, period. If we use busy as an excuse for not doing something what we are really, really saying is that it’s not a priority. Simply put: You don’t find the time to do something; you make the time to do things.”

Powerful. But a tad bit simplistic. Indeed, being busy is a decision just like anything and everything is our decision. However, dropping one’s busy schedule is not as straightforward as Debbie puts it out to be. 

You will be Crazy-Busy! If you’re a:

  • Single parent with two kids, holding down a job to make sure that bills are paid and there is food on the table. 
  • Founder CEO of a startup and you’ve got a fire to put out every five minutes.
  • Second-generation entrepreneurs establish systems in their organisations while transitioning from legacy processes.

Sure, it is your choices that got you into your situation. And you would like to bring sanity to the chaos around you. However, it’s not simple as “Busy is a decision” and one can simply walk out. (I’m off kids, from now on you can raise yourselves, love you, goodbye!)

Highly irresponsible to say the least, perhaps downright cruel to walk out on one’s commitments. 

So what’s the way out? Are you stuck for eternity in a life of busyness? Would it take forever to make meaningful progress on your situation?

Fortunately, there is a road to salvation.

The trick lies in:

  • Getting all your commitments out of your head.
  • Clarifying your goals.
  • Making meaningful choices to make immediate progress on them.

The process is simple. Yet it packs a wallop! 

Allow me to elucidate:

Step 1

The reason you’re overwhelmed and stuck in Crazy-Busy is that you don’t have the mind space to “Focus”.  As a result, you just hop to the latest & loudest thing in front of your face.

Therefore to get the space of Focus, all you need to do is get all your commitments out of your head.  So the question to ask yourself is:-

What are the different areas in your life that you have commitments/responsibilities towards?

Eg. Work, Family, Health, Hobbies? Write down everything that comes to mind about these.

Step 2

Once you do that, you will feel a sense of the room. You will have the space to finally “Focus”.  But, what do you focus upon?  Hence you clarify, what’s important to you.

A great question to ask is – What is your vision of success by the end of 2022? Or what are your goals?

Step 3

Now that you have your goals clarified. Then answer, what 3 actions are you going over the next 7 days to make progress on your goals?

Yes, the rest of the stuff will get done, but now you’ll be focusing on the most important and meaningful stuff as a priority. 

There you go! From a state of overwhelmed, crazy-busy, you are now Focused, In Control, Relaxed and making meaningful progress. 

So while Debbie Milman is right, being Busy is a decision. But to get out of busy, one needs a plan and it would help tremendously to have help along the way.

If you’d like one of our coaches to help you, to guide you through your busyness to a state of relaxation and focus, click here to learn more about our Focus Coaching services.

Till next time…Keep smiling!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *