I'm Too Busy!

Susan Donnelly with arms crossed

“I want to run an ultra but I'm too busy.”

Really?” I want to ask. 

“Doing what?”

Because in listening to people and watching myself, I’ve found that...

Busy is one thing. Busyness is another - and more common.

Busy is taking action and accomplishing something. You plan to run an ultra, do it, and have the results.

Busyness feels like taking action - often lots of action and rushing around - but accomplishes nothing. It’s a lot of mind chatter about how busy you are, and taking random actions here and there that don’t complete anything.

Each has lots of action, so it’s easy to mistake one for the other and never notice the difference.

Fortunately, there’s a simple fix.

Turn pointless busyness into productive busy, by intentionally managing your time.

I just so happen to have a handy example - “fitting a race into the coming weekend.”

There’s a local 50k I’d like to do, the Cumberland Trail 50k. I created the race, so there’s sentimental value, it’s gorgeous, and it’s the perfect, supported way to get in a long run.


I already have to work over at my day job to meet looming end-of-fiscal-year deadlines, and I have my business to run, clients to support, an important date night to make, a yard to mow, unpacking from last week’s vacation to finish, and you know - lots of things to do. 

Just thinking about it stresses me to the point of overwhelm. And fitting a race in??

If I didn’t know better, I’d say, “Nope, too busy.”

What’s really going on is that I’m not taking ownership of my own time. I’m letting all kinds of forces other than me decide how I spend my time and only allowing myself to decide what to do with the leftover scraps.

If you find yourself thinking “I’m too busy for that thing I want to do,” try this simple exercise: track what you spend your time doing today, without judgement.

At the end of the day, ask:

  • What non-priorities, like cooking an elaborate dinner, ironing pillowcases, or scrolling pointlessly through social media, could be reduced or eliminated? 

  • For everything else that I have to do, like “work” or “go to Sarah’s party," what would change if you replaced “have to” with “choose to?”

The bottom line is that no one is forcing you to willingly spend your time on things you don’t want to do.

You’re choosing how you spend your time, either deliberately or not. 

I’m inviting you to do it deliberately.

If you want to spend your time on other things, do it! 

If you don’t want to go for that dream until the kids grow up, that’s fine!

Just be honest enough with yourself to stop using “I’m too busy” as an excuse.

And get busy doing what you really want to do!

Susan Donnelly’
Susan DonnellyBalance/Time