always-open-closed11Has anyone ever qualified a question with the following: “I know you’re busy, but…”?

This happened to me the other day, and I had two immediate reactions.

My first reaction—> I was glad they recognized my schedule was packed with busy and important things.
(Confession: that observation made me feel important and popular).

My second reaction—> I was frustrated that my busyness made them think I wouldn’t have time for them.

Too often, I over emphasize my busy schedule.
When people ask me “How are you?” usually my response includes something along the lines of “Good, I’ve been staying really busy, etc etc etc.”
We live in a world that masters the glorification of being busy.
While busy seasons come and go, defining myself by my busyness will communicate that I’m unavailable.
So even though I desire for others to know that I am always open, my actions show that I am closed.
What would it look to communicate a more open and flexible schedule?

I’ve set a new goal—> To stop defining myself by being busy, and to be more approachable and flexible so people don’t begin conversations by first acknowledging my limited availability.

That’s been on my mind this week…I’d appreciate any feedback or suggestions you all might have!


10 replies
  1. Jamie
    Jamie says:

    Your reactions are so positive! When people ask me if I’m busy I feel it’s such a subjective question. What is busy? Whose to say my busy is more or less busy than someone else’s schedule? There’s an old phrase of ‘if you need something done ask a busy man’. Interesting thoughts for this week Annie, you’ve got me thinking.

    • Annie Vander Pol
      Annie Vander Pol says:

      I know – “What is busy?” – and am I really as important as I think I am? I think I take my schedule too seriously sometimes, so I’m challenged to be more open :) Thanks for commenting!

  2. Sami Dyer
    Sami Dyer says:

    Annie this is a great topic, because it’s so realistic! It made me think… all of my “elevator” conversations are either about the weather, OR how busy I am at work. While I don’t mean for it to come out sounding like a complaint, it may give the impression that I’m irritated by them asking! I’ll keep this in mind :)

  3. Peter Chee (@pchee)
    Peter Chee (@pchee) says:

    I read somewhere “Never confuse activity with accomplishment”. Somewhere in those words I think activity equals busy. Being busy doesn’t mean much to me — getting important stuff done does mean something.

    Your comment about about being open and flexible is great — certainly makes one more approachable. The part that I think everyone has to figure out is how to safeguard your time too. I just read a blog post from an entrepreneur who is saying “no” to everything in order stay focused. That certainly is a “closed” sign, but, I can also appreciate the fact that this person is staying focused too.

    It’s got me thinking… perhaps instead of myself saying how busy I am, I share a little bit about the wins that I’ve just had — that lets the person know I’m getting important stuff done and allows that person to feel some positive energy about what is being accomplished. Also asking that person what their big win is might help let them share what they are getting done too. Kind of like feeding off each others accomplishments and get more inspired! I’m going to try that this week and let you know how that goes!

    • Annie Vander Pol
      Annie Vander Pol says:

      I really like your idea – instead of telling people that you’re busy, tell them what you’re excited about (your wins!). Thanks for that, Peter. That will help redirect my normal comment of “I’m staying busy” to something more interesting and even interactive.


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