6 Reasons to Ban the Word Busy


Hanging over our kitchen table are three red pendant lights. They accent the contemporary vibe of our kitchen nicely, and they attract hummingbirds like a magnet.

It is not unusual at our house to be interrupted during a meal by a hummingbird flying smack into our kitchen window! At times, they make a second attempt to reach what they perceive to be a hummingbird feast, but are actually our striking pendant lights. As persistent as they are small, the hummingbirds will linger, frantically flapping their wings at our window, in hopes of getting to that nectar.

Hummingbirds are remarkable little birds! Here are a few interesting hummingbird facts:

  • They flap their wings about 80 times per second or 4800 times per minute!
  • They use their feet for perching only – no hopping or walking for these birdies!
  • They are the only birds that are able to fly from right to left, up and down, as well as backwards and upside down. They can even hover in midair!
  • They are able to fly 500 miles nonstop when migrating due to their fat reserves – can you believe they have that much fat?
  • They can navigate a web of branches and twigs with ease.
  • A hummingbird’s heart beats 1260 times a minute.
  • They are able to lick 13 times per second – that’s how they feed. And they consume their own body weight in food each day.
  • Hummingbirds are naturally attracted to the color red.
  • They are territorial birds that are aggressive and willing to take on birds much larger in size.

I know a few hummingbird-like people – not that they fly into our kitchen window, but folks who are rarely at rest. I can relate – I have some hummingbird in me as well! It doesn’t help that our culture is in a hurry and there is a constant deluge of information and noise – an environment that encourages a frantic pace.

I don’t want to be a hummingbird! And I don’t want to be hummingbird-like!

In fact, I am over the whole idea of busy! It is exhausting! That’s why I have issued a ban on the busy word!busy

Yep! You heard me…no using the busy word. After all, it is a four letter word.

You see, the words I use matter. That’s why the past couple of years I have used the word “full” when someone asks me about my life, rather than busy. While my life is full of work I love and people I treasure, if I am 100% honest there is still more flapping going on than necessary. The word “full” has been a step in the right direction, but I am not satisfied with landing there.

You see, the word busy, or even the word full, still impacts my life by:

1. Shrinking my vocabulary

Yep! Busy is the flippant, glib answer of the day. I’d like to be more articulate than that.

2. Disconnecting me from my feelings

Busy is NOT a feeling. So they next time someone asks “How you are you?” I want to use words that truly reflect my emotions. In order to do that I will need to pause and check in with myself before I respond. Just a warning… I may need a minute so get comfy with a wee bit of silence! And don’t let me get away with words like fine, full, good, or blessed either!

Remember, I am expanding my vocabulary and expressing my feelings!

3. Becoming my cover-up

Being busy can make me feel important, and it can also be my excuse. My desire is to be more vulnerable and let you know that the opportunity or event – whatever you want or need me to do, doesn’t fit into my current priorities or isn’t where I want to direct my energy right now. That can be hard. People often press and I feel guilty or they get their feelings hurt. That is certainly not my heart, but if I am going to eliminate the word busy, it makes sense to also be lovingly honest with you as well!

4. Making me a victim

You see, I don’t have to be busy. The more I use the word busy, the more I see myself as a victim of busy. That’s just not true! Being busy is a choice! I choose it at times because I like to do a lot of different things. I am driven by nature. And if I am not busy, then what?

Maybe if I wasn’t doing so many things I would appreciate life more and be free to do even more of what God has in mind for me!

5. Keeping me from reframing

The busy bucket is brimming! Overflowing! It is a catch-all like a kitchen junk drawer! I lump everything into that bucket when I would be better off reframing. What if I began acknowledging the good things I am engaged in, admitting that another activity has been particularly stretching or even stressful yet a tremendous opportunity for growth?

Every time I utter the word busy I perpetuate the franticness – sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy!

6. Keeping me over focused on work

This is perhaps one of the biggest struggles for driven types like me! Just because I am doing something all the time it doesn’t mean I am doing the right things or that what I am doing will make me successful. It just means I am running on my hamster wheel!

Productivity is about working more effectively – putting effort into the few important things that are going to make the biggest difference. It is about taking time to rest and regroup so that I am at my best when it is time to work. It is also about trusting that God will provide all I need and that I am already enough!

A shift in my thinking must take place before a behavior shift can happen. Helping me change my word choices and eliminate busy from my vocabulary is a big part of helping me get there! I venture to say that the “busy” word is keeping a whole lot of you stuck in places you don’t need to be either!

Imagine what it would be like to stop flapping frantically and soar like an eagle gliding with ease on the currents in the sky. That sounds peaceful and relaxing to me; freeing!

How about you? Is it time to banish the word busy?

Marvae Eikanas

Marvae Eikanas is an author, entrepreneur, ICF certified coach, Career Direct Consultant, DISC consultant, and HBDI practitioner. She helps her coaching clients sharpen their skills, face their fears, eliminate funky mindsets, hone their habits, and cultivate clarity so they can THRIVE personally and professionally. Schedule a consultation with Marvae here.


  1. Dawn on March 23, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Love this Marvae. Busy is not an attractive word to me either.

    9 years ago I continually saw women in their 40’s well into their 60’s running around being BUSY and it was not attractive.

    It appeared unorganized, frantic and did not fit the description of the graceful God I was reading about in the bible.

    I am grateful to have learned the difference between being busy and being on purpose – gracefully as I mature.

    Of course to calm the busy life requires a change. Letting go of the adrenaline based energy and being still long enough for the body to reset into its own natural rhythm.

    Thank you for this inspiring blog.

    • Marvae on March 23, 2016 at 10:11 am

      Thanks for sharing Dawn! It does require change to calm a busy life – heart change and being honest about what is motivating us. Deep down I think we all crave a slower and more meaningful pace of life which is very counter to our culture. I pray more and more of us experience the calm more and more often!

  2. Mary on March 23, 2016 at 2:13 pm


    Thank you so much for articulating what is going on with all the hustle bustle and ‘busy’ talk. This falls right in place with my recent pondering’s over what contributes to a culture of shallowness or depth within relationships.
    A very helpful post, Marvae, and I look forward to reading more of your take on life and living.

    Blessings… Mary

    • Marvae on March 23, 2016 at 2:25 pm

      Delighted you took the time to stop by Mary! It is next to impossible to nurture deep relationships when you are perpetually “busy.” The most meaningful moments in relationship typically happen at the most inconvenient times and if we are constantly in motion we miss out.

      That’s a powerful reason to eliminate the word “BUSY” from your vocabulary and slow down!

  3. April on March 23, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    This really hit home! After all the years of home schooling which required near perpetual motion, this empty nest stage is an adjustment. Crazy as it sounds, I sometimes feel guilty for taking more time for relationships than for my precious measureable goals that always structured my days in the past. In a culture where small talk includes comparing accomplishments and activities, it is refreshing to read your positive spin on taking the word “busy” out of our vocabulary, and in a real sense out of our lives. Good riddance!

    • Marvae on March 23, 2016 at 6:50 pm

      It is true the the homeschooling years are brimming with activity! It is almost like weaning yourself from the hamster wheel and re-calibrating your normal. Since God made us for relationship, and so much positive Kingdom stuff happens in that place, it is a valuable investment of your time even if you can’t measure it! I look forward to hearing how saying “good riddance” to the word busy changes things for you!

  4. MaryLou Caskey on March 30, 2016 at 8:28 am

    Marvae, Wow, there are so many points here that I have felt about the word busy and you shared them so well. Thanks for putting words to my thoughts. I appreciate you.

    • Marvae on March 30, 2016 at 10:25 am

      Thanks so much MaryLou!

  5. Angela Edwards on November 4, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    As always, Marvae: A very fun and enlightening read! This definitely gave me a new perspective on that one four-letter word with so much power.

    This put me in mind of a friend of mine who doesn’t use the word “unstoppable”. Instead, she uses “unflappable”—which immediately put me in mind of your persistent, flapping hummingbirds. *Giggles*

    I have my takeaways from this and have referred my mother to read your blog as well. I’m sure she’ll be BLESSED by your story!

    Thank you! (((HUGS)))

    • Marvae on November 4, 2017 at 9:23 pm

      Words are so powerful! Unflappable is a great replacement for Unstoppable! And you know I adore your giggle! Thanks for passing on this blog to your mother!

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