There’s another side to being so “busy”, and that’s when it comes to excuses. There are very few situations where you’re ever “too busy” for something. The only two I can think of are:
- If you’re in jail.
- If you’re in the hospital.
The rest of the time, your rejection of a request isn’t because you’re too busy, but because something else is a higher priority. You could do whatever someone asked, but you may choose not to because something else is more important.
That might be perfectly fine. If your boss is asking you to work on an important project, but your friend wants to go catch a movie, you’d be wise to turn down your friend and do your work. You’re not too busy for the movie, but your priorities lie elsewhere.
It’s like this clip from Seinfeld, where Seth skips a meeting (and later gets fired) to grab lunch with Jerry. Not a great move.
Where this can be be helpful is when you view all requests through this lens. If you keep your priorities in mind, you’ll tend to make better decisions.
For example, if your wife reminds you that your daughter has a ballet recital tonight but you have a lot of work to do:
- It’s easy to say “I’m too busy”.
- It feels a lot different to say “That recital isn’t a priority for me”. Ouch!
You face dozens of choices every day in your life, but in almost every case you can base your decision on what really matters to you, not just on what has your attention and makes you feel busy in the moment.