I’m actually not that busy.


This is my new mantra: I’m actually not that busy.

It doesn’t sound spiritual or like something you heard at your yoga class. It might not even feel true the first few times you say it! But it’s changing my life.

My aha moment came when I saw this graphic above on Facebook. Moments later I heard Brene Brown talk about how we glorify our busy lives, how we actually think that if we’re not busy our lives are less important or have less value. It’s subtle, but always saying we are busy is another way we reinforce our not-enoughness.

When people ask you how you’re doing, do you do what I do? Do you say, “Oh fine, crazy, busy as ever!” or “Really good… super busy!”

But what is busy really? but something we tell ourselves.

I practiced it this morning when I dropped off Nico at school. As I signed him out, I heard that familiar refrain, Okay sister, you better get going now and get to your desk… But then I stopped myself and said, I’m actually not that busy! and let myself stay a few extra minutes building a tower of blocks with him.

It was just a few more minutes but it felt spacious, like I got to decide that I have time for everything. I felt myself writing a new story: that there is enough time for what’s most important in my life.

If you see it all as part of the creative process (and I do) — the daydreams, the walks, the lying on the couch, the spontaneous lunch with a friend — it starts to make sense. My best work is done this way- not when I am pinched and constricted but expansive and present.

So yeah, the more I say it, the more it feels true. I’m not that busy people! and it’s awesome.

Will you try this with me?

The next time someone asks you how you are, I dare you to say: Great! I’m actually not that busy.




  1. Jacqueline
    Posted March 18, 2013 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Yes! Yes! Yes! We aren’t that busy. We just seem to think that the whirlwind that we are creating in our minds is busyness and that form of busy is good and valued. I am right there with you, Andrea! I’m great! I’m actually not that busy!

  2. Kim B.
    Posted March 18, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    A foreign concept to my mind, but definitely one I will try on for size. Thank you, Andrea!

  3. Posted March 18, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Good morning Kathleen…how’s it going? It’s great…the kids are cool and the best thing is…I’m not too busy! How about a coffee? :)

  4. simone
    Posted March 18, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Yes! That point in Brene’s talk really stood out for me. We use busy to say all kinds of things: I’m making money, my life is so full, my business is rocking-or the flip side-I don’t have time for you, I’m totally avoiding what I need to do (exercise, cook), I’m falling apart. It’s a theme that keeps coming up in my mom’s group, busy busy busy and lonely. Wouldn’t it be great to live in a place where busy-ness is not valued? It could be like this: How are you? I’m not busy, as in, I have time and space in my life for you.

  5. Posted March 18, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    Am with you!! LASt week my plans were devastated by snow and illness and I felt really up against it. In fact my skeleton service was fine… nothing fell apart. I was also doing a yoga school homework on Asteya. One of the interpretations of this (it means non stealing) is that to steal indicates a lack of belief in the abundance of the universe. A fear that there is not enough. I found myself creating a mantra of “I have plenty of time” instead of screeching in my head about there not being enough time to do everything I needed to do! Sometimes we create our own ‘busy’ out of nothing. the world doesn’t fall apart if we believe something else instead….

  6. Posted March 18, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Oh yes! This…

    “If you see it all as part of the creative process (and I do) — the daydreams, the walks, the lying on the couch, the spontaneous lunch with a friend — it starts to make sense. My best work is done this way– not when I am pinched and constricted but expansive and present.”

    I need SOOOOO much time and space for creativity. And I feel that many judge and think it’s laziness (including myself sometimes).

    But this isn’t going to be easy…

    “The next time someone asks you how you are, I dare you to say: Great! I’m actually not that busy.”

    Very deeply ingrained.

    So thank you for this!

  7. Posted March 18, 2013 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Phew, I wish it was that easy, I really do. I spend at least 9 hours every day working in a very busy school office where the pace is relentless. I am generally quite good at establishing my boundaries and delegating but for reasons of their own this is often not possible. By the time I get home in the evenings I am often so exhausted (physically and mentally) that all the other things I need to and would like to spend my time on fall by the wayside. I have never regarded busy-ness as a measure of my worth and have certainly never aspired to being busy, having always preferred a more relaxed pace. I might try telling myself that I am actually not that busy, just not in front of my boss! :)

  8. Posted March 18, 2013 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    oh i feel the exact same way!! when people tell me now “oh you must be so busy” I say “no, i’m not that busy. i have time for people and things i love and people and things that matter.” it’s a reminder to myself to constantly review my priorities and check that my time is going where i want it to go :)

  9. Posted March 18, 2013 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    I so love this! I also think ‘busy’ can be a state of mind … sometimes I feel like I am better at balancing things than at other times, and hence feel ‘less busy’ (but am I? Am I busy in the first place anyway?!). I am going to try this answer for sure the next time someone asks :)

  10. susan
    Posted March 18, 2013 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Fantastico! Andrea!!

  11. Posted March 18, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    Simply brilliant, and brilliantly simple. Andrea, you help us get on with our lives – busy or actually not – with more clarity, honesty, and self-acceptance. Thank you for risking yourself so that we may follow suit. xoxo.

  12. Corinne
    Posted March 18, 2013 at 7:59 pm | Permalink


    Thank you for this. A great nudge in the right direction, and it reminds me of this article I read last year. “Life is too short to be busy.”


  13. Posted March 18, 2013 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    I think this is so important. Life is too short to live it in a blur.

  14. Posted March 18, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    I’m in! The message from the Universe for me lately, over and over, is that I can do more by doing less, that I can have the freedom I want by focusing on one thing at a time, that a small and simple life are just the right fit. “The imagination needs moodling – long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling, and puttering,” (Brenda Ueland). This morning, instead of rushing to my writing desk, I played with Dexter and his “baby” for 15 minutes. I felt connected and calm and content. And I still got my writing done.

  15. Posted March 18, 2013 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been doing this as well – one of my issues is rushing and I get stressed driving places and missing traffic lights etc. I started telling myself I have enough time. I am okay letting that light go and can instead drink some water or sing along with Adele. It is about what we tell ourselves and we can either create stress or calm ourselves down. xx

  16. Posted March 18, 2013 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    I totally hear you. Perhaps we should just say “great!” and leave it at that. :)

  17. Tina
    Posted March 18, 2013 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    I. Love. This. Thanks for sharing!! :)

  18. Jenn Higgins
    Posted March 18, 2013 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    I almost shouted YES outloud when I read this!!!
    My partner and I decided to get a puppy right after the new year. I told myself over and over, I think I’m just too busy for all the time and attention it will take, but I really want one. I sat myself down and had a good, long look at myself, and where my time was being spent and realized…I’m not that busy! Sure I can go from the time I get up, till bed time but I don’t HAVE to. I get to choose, time for the dogs, wife, freinds, me etc. I am amazed at how less stressed I feel and how more aware of myself this has helped me become. I think it’s my 2013 Mantra now.

  19. Kelly Luna
    Posted March 19, 2013 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    Yes!! I’m also a recovering “busy glorifier.” It was a badge of honor. It’s only more recently that I realize that it’s *not* a good thing and not how I want to define me or my life. I’m with you, Andrea. Let’s hang out. I’m not that busy. :)

  20. Posted March 19, 2013 at 1:48 am | Permalink

    Yes! I love this. I have been aware of that busy trap for a while and it can be so easy to say how you’ve been is Busy, but that pushes aside everything else and does glorify busy-ness as something that makes you a better more worthwhile person.

  21. Posted March 19, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    I told someone this weekend I was “doing great.” She asked if I was busy and I said “no, not too much.” She gave me the oddest look but I left feeling like a superhero because yes, of course, there are times that I am busy, but in that moment I was relaxed and happy and feeling great!

  22. Elise
    Posted March 20, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    I know I say I’m busy to cover my guilt that I am not doing the work I want/value the most.

  23. Posted March 21, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    I stopped yesterday and drank a bit of my coffee and ate my breakfast treat SITTING DOWN. I told myself I was not SO busy I couldn’t enjoy a few minutes.

    love it. doing it more.

  24. Nancy Guillery
    Posted March 22, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Thank you!!! I’ve been noticing the same thing! People, myself included, always seem to be commenting on how busy life is. There are periods of time when it is true everything is hectic and you seem to be going non stop. But, there are also many times when our reflex is to say that we are busy busy busy, but in reality we are able to find time to sit in front of the tv for hours on end, wake-up late, and veg. There’s nothing wrong with relaxing and doing nothing. But when we find ourselves complaining about how busy we are we need to step back and assess if the things that are keeping us busy are really things we want to be spending time doing. I always find it funny when people say they don’t have time to exercise, for example, but if you look at how they spend their day they are watching tv, staying longer then needed at the office, wasting time obsessing about cleaning the house from top to bottom, etc. Everything is a choice. When you choose to spend time on the things that are priorities for you, you are never overwhelmed with being busy with useless time wasting.

  25. Posted March 22, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    As a doctor, I definitely got the message that you are expected to be busy all the time. The unconscious message is that if you aren’t busy then you aren’t a good doctor. It’s been a process of unlearning that message for me and re-framing how to work and not be stressed. Really I’m a better doctor when I am calm and not stressed, in order words, when I am not busy…Thanks for the reinforcement.

  26. Nicole
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    seriously in love with this post

  27. Posted April 15, 2013 at 2:05 am | Permalink

    I just finished Daring Greatly and am now ready for Gifts of Imperfection. I totally going to start saying…”I’m really not that busy.” I love it! It sounds so much more grounded and peaceful. Thanks for sharing.

  28. Posted May 6, 2013 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Hi! Loved the post and re-posted, here:



  29. phyie
    Posted May 22, 2013 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    yes! im actually not that busy … :D

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