The Hard Truth: You’re Not Busy… You’re Just An Asshole

I’m too busy. It’s a tragically popular phrase which probably tops the charts in both ridiculousness and condescension.

The tonality wreaks of excessive starch, Chanel No.5 and the luxury sports car your parents bought you (the one you keep underhandedly implying you bought yourself). Possibly, the statement applies for two people in the world: Batman, Bale not Kilmer of course, and my mother circa 1992. Realistically, amongst 20somethings, our hobbies include doing nothing, being too busy, and getting an inexplicable high from canceling plans five minutes before a previously committed engagement.

See the problem here?

When you say, “I’m too busy for XYZ,” what those around you hear is, “I’m so important; too important in fact, for you, who I do not value enough to give a reasonable chunk of time or energy.”

More aptly, we hear “I’m an entitled, apathetic and ineffective millennial, giving the rest of us a bad name.”

Transcending generationally, we all have the same 86,400 seconds in a day. All right, all right, all right. You work twice as much as the rest of us do at 80 hours a week. Unlikely. But, you still have 88 hours left over and you can’t take one minute for your friend, co-worker or past acquaintance? C’mon now. You’re being silly.

I’ll pump the brakes. I get it… Sure, there is actually a delicate balance in placing appropriate value on your time. That’s life. Too much “yes sir/yes ma’am” and you’re the office intern who constantly undervalued. Too much, “look I’m busy,” and you’re the hyper-competitive salutatorian no one wants to sit with. However, the bottom line is people who are well liked and respected are rewarded. In other words, people don’t like braggadocios people and a senior manager doesn’t want to stroke your ego every time he calls for an update or status report.

Break the habit. Far too often, in competitive client facing environments, people think the impression of how important or busy we are is all our superiors’ value. If you’re busy, you display value; if you’re valuable, you get promoted. That’s how it works, right? Lol.

But, consider this: people and networking are just as valuable as whatever busywork, spreadsheet or report you may be currently busting out. The skill of genuinely communicating to someone that you’re very busy currently — in a way where that person doesn’t feel undervalued or dismissed — is far more valuable and your mentors will see that. How those above and below you perceive you is all anyone will care about come “evaluation season.” I once heard, “when people stop bringing their problems to you, they have lost all faith in you.”

Don’t be too busy to be bothered — be bothered people think you’re busy.

In the end, what goes around comes around. What you’re forgetting during your self-indulgence is that perception is reality. While you tout your ego to those ranking slightly above or beneath you with the old “I’m too busy and important to work with you on this,” you don’t appear industrious or dedicated. Rather, you reveal yourself to be egotistical, unworkable, and ultimately less valuable as a person. You don’t look busy, you look unable to manage your time. You don’t seem valuable, you seem like someone I wouldn’t enjoy grabbing a drink with. Honestly — the amount of free time we have in a given work day is truly astonishing. Eight hours. Are you kidding me? 8…hours…1,440 minutes…28,800 seconds…And you can’t take 30 seconds to answer your friends call? To show the new guy how to (fill in the blank)?

Lol, you crazy for this one Jay.

“I’m too busy” is not a catch all excuse.

It is not a colloquial conversation piece. And it is absolutely not impressive. It is exhausting. It is insecure. It is clickbait of the mouth. And it is the quintessential professional turn off for every generation before us so stop embarrassing yourself and stop being busy.

The secret to success in your 20somethings is to know who you are. Be confident. And be you. And you are not that human, I promise you.

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