We Need a New Word for Busy

Oh hi.

It’s Claire, author of a new book and mother of #3under3 who is traveling and speaking and writing and fighting with health insurance about preemie vaccines and cleaning up asking my husband to clean up the mess the neighbor’s dog makes of our trash every morning.

Here’s the thing:

Last week I told you about the problem with the word Hustle. Folks right and left have started to wonder if this word needs to banned from our vocabulary, and I might be jumping on that train.

But before there was HUSTLE, there was another word.


This is a word I abhor. In fact, this is a word I abhor so much that in 2015 I chose a word of the year (okay, a hashtag of the year), to guide me. That hashtag?


I believed then and I believe now that that default thing where you run into someone in the supermarket and they ask how you are you say, “Busy,” is horrific.

But here’s the thing.

It’s all well and good to say we’re banning busy, and we’re eliminating hustle from our vocabulary, but I’m forced to beg the question:

So what word do we use in seasons of busy?

I believe in working by design. In my mind, this means building a work and personal life that allows us to be intentional with the way we work to keep the busy at bay, and keep the purpose front of mind.

That said, there are seasons of working hard in every life. When you have twin babies at home, say. When you publish a new book, say. Or when you do a host of other things I’ve never done: Go back to school, plan a 40th birthday party, train for the Olympics. The point is there are seasons where you will have to work hard, and no matter how much you prepare for that season, it will be tough. You will feel stressed and you will feel cranky and you will feel like you are fighting for time.

If you do it well, you know that the idea with working hard, as with the idea with effective exercise,  is to work that muscle hard, and then rest it well. And then do it again. Rinse and repeat. Hard work. Deep rest.

But I’m still asking my question: what do we call those times of hard work? Those times where you know that no matter what you do, you will be scheduled to the brim and bandwidth will be few and far between?

It’s not hustle. It’s not busy.

So what is?

Tell me now, so I know how to answer that question, “How are?” this month.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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10 thoughts on “We Need a New Word for Busy

  1. I know, right! BUSY acronym – Being Under Satan’s Yoke! I like to be managing my margin, creating more margin so I have time for people and the things God made me to do.

  2. I’ve been refraining from saying “busy” for over a year now.
    I have consciously been saying that my life is full. It’s a feeling of blessing rather than chaos.

  3. I like the word “engaged”. when I am working with a client, I am “engaged”. When I am researching or writing proposals for clients I am “engaged”, and so on. BTW, Hope you have a safe and uneventful trip – 30 hours with little ones may prove to be a “challenge” but with today’s technology, you should be able to preload a tablet or I-pad with children’s movies like Pete’s Dragon or some PIXAR Toy Story or something, interrupted of course by 30 minutes of personal “engagement” with each child, etc., etc.
    Let me know how that works out,

  4. Since I committed to living in choice and with intention, I use the words “full”, “satisfying”, “productive”. Occasionally when I am not feeling spectacularly resilient I resort to “batshit crazy” but that is reserved for times of exceptional stress. 😂 Hope the wee ones are better. We were once confined to house arrest with contagion for nearly a month #3under3.5 so I remember and can relate! Peace, Dianne

    • I love it! Living “in choice and with intention”! HAAAAA re “BC”…;;;;) yes, toddler plagues are awesome.