I don’t want to look busy

Our culture is obsessed with being busy. When’s the last time you asked someone about their job or life and they didn’t use the word busy? It’s worn like a badge of honor. To even hint you might not be busy, conjures up visions of laziness and lack of ambition. As we plan various activities and events for schools, I’ll often hear, “that’s a busy time for schools”. Tell me when it’s not a busy time?

That fact that everyone is busy should be a given by now. It’s almost akin to breathing. Should I preface every statement about my current state of existence by stating that, “I’ve been really breathing lately….consuming a lot of oxygen.”

I’m trying to stop acting like I’m so busy and telling everyone how busy I am. No one really cares and it’s nothing worth talking about. Telling folks about how busy you are creates too many negative images. Talking about busyness does not usually leave the impression you love your job. I do love my job so maybe I don’t think of myself as busy. My job is to support teachers. When a teacher asks for my support, I figure out how to help. I don’t need to remind them how busy I am because they’re just as busy. I want to give people the impression that I have lots of time for them. They need to feel relaxed and I’d like to alleviate some of the stress they might be feeling in their daily grind. Life and work shouldn’t be taken so seriously. Relax. I’ve worked with some great people that I know were extremely busy but always had time to chat with me about work, life and I dare say it, even fun, non-work related stuff.

I think this is the type of classroom we ought to be creating. One where teachers have lots of time to work with students and there is less a sense of panic and mayhem and more one of calm and reflection. Is this possible? I don’t know but I’m going to try and avoid the word busy to describe my work and life.

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  • This article on busyness is really a great one. I just love it! Thanks for writing it in such an entertaining way.

  • Tom


    Great post! I have to admit I fall in that trap on occasion. Nice to have something written so well to remind me- which is amazing (although I’ve grown blase about it). A guy I’ve never met, in a place I’ve never been is making me a better person/teacher/co-worker through the internet.


  • Right on the mark.

  • Ah, Dean, there is a saying however, that goes something along the lines of, “If you want help to get something done, ask a busy person.”
    And if I wasn’t so busy myself, I’d leave a bigger and better comment. 🙂

  • Your post was refreshing. We all do live in a world where busy is what we do and who we are and yes we should move onto a new topic of discussion. You are right that no one cares if you are busy because they are too. It’s not a competition of who has more to do. We do need to calm down so students don’t feel rushed. I am going to try your idea of not using the word busy and see how my days go along! Thanks for the great idea

  • Dean, I very much related to this posting. I also support teachers and technology. Although I am busy and I am under a great deal of pressure, I know that classroom teachers are just as busy and under just as much pressure. It is difficult at times to give the impression that you have plenty of time for whomever approaches you with a request for assistance. But it seems to me that teachers appreciate being treated as if you always have the time available to help them. I know I felt that way when I was in the classroom. By the way, I enjoy your blog!

  • A great point, Dean. I think we impose the same cultural bias towards the virtue of business on our students. At the secondary level, many teachers will brag about the amount of work in class or as homework. I think Maclean’s magazine recently had a cover story on this topic, but I was too busy to read it. ;^)

  • lisa


    Great writting.
    I’m going to try and stop using the “BUSY” word. I don’t like it and it does make people feel not important when we use it. They say “BUSY” is just an excuss i agree.


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