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This article was published on May 30, 2015

‘Too busy’: Two little words, one big lie

‘Too busy’: Two little words, one big lie
Jason Zook
Story by

Jason Zook

Jason Zook is best known for being the guy that made over $1,000,000 wearing t-shirts for a living and selling his last name (twice). He wri Jason Zook is best known for being the guy that made over $1,000,000 wearing t-shirts for a living and selling his last name (twice). He writes an action-packed newsletter that’s free to join called The Action Army.

Jason Zook is the founder of IWearYourShirt and author of Creativity For Sale. This post originally appeared on his blog.

I’ve never heard of a highly creative or successful person being too busy. Let me rephrase that: I’ve never heard of a highly creative or successful person that I respect being too busy.

The most creative people of our time are doing more things in a day than most people do in a week (or even month). But you know what you rarely hear a highly creative or successful person say? “I’m too busy.”

Think about the people who you hear say “I’m too busy.” More often than not, those people aren’t actually busy at all. They’re just filling their days to hide insecurities.

I recently listened to an excerpt of an audio book by Tim Kreider, that was featured by Tim Ferriss. Mr. Kreider’s thoughts on being busy resonated with me. If I was “too busy” to listen to that excerpt, this article wouldn’t exist and I wouldn’t have become a slightly better version of myself with something to share.

The digital age we live in should provide us with more time than we could ever imagine. Twenty years ago when you wanted to look up a fact, you had to get in your car, drive to a library, find an encyclopedia (with the letters on the spine that coordinated with your topic), sift through hundreds of pages of information, only then to find your answer.

Nowadays, you just hold down a button on your phone and ask a nonexistent human your question. Or you Google it.

Either way, we should have an immense amount of extra time for any action we take these days. We should never actually be “too busy.”

However, it seems just the opposite. It seems as if our days are filled to the brim. It feels like there are never enough hours in the day. This makes it nearly impossible to find creativity and inspiration.

I’d like for you to answer the following question honestly. If you’ve ever said the words, “I’m busy” or “I’m too busy,” was it due to tasks you actually enjoyed doing?

For myself, the answer is no. That’s 100% real truth. The only time I ever actually feel busy is when I’m doing a bunch of mundane stuff I don’t want to be doing. But I’m a realist, and I haven’t manufactured a life without mundane stuff (yet).

If the work you are doing makes you feel busy, then the work you are doing doesn’t truly matter to you.

Work worth doing isn’t busy work.


We live in such an amazingly exciting time. The possibilities created by the Internet—by the vast amounts of communication, by the access to information—should not keep us tethered to a life full of feeling busy.

Do yourself a favor and the next time you feel busy, just take a break. Take a few minutes to reassess your current situation. If you aren’t willing to actually change it and make your life a little bit better through some hard work and tough choices, then at least stop complaining about it to other people. Be honest with yourself and make changes.

If someone asks you the question, “how are you doing?” don’t answer by saying “I’m busy.” Instead, tell them the truth:

“Honestly, my job isn’t great and I feel like I’m doing a lot of work that doesn’t really matter to me. My day is full of tasks that aren’t fulfilling and I’m scared I’m going to be stuck here until I’ve saved enough money that I can retire and maybe fully enjoy my life.”

Because that is the truth. I know, because I was there. I worked a few 9-to-5 jobs I didn’t enjoy.

I owned a company that made me feel busy all the time. I was stuck in the mindset that if I wasn’t working, then I was missing out on opportunities. Funny enough, by removing mundane tasks and projects from my life, I’ve actually created more opportunities that don’t make me feel busy.

I have more tasks on my to-do list right now than I’ve ever had. But I will never tell you how busy I am. Instead, I’ll tell you that I’m excited for the possibilities ahead. I’m excited to see where my life takes me because of the bold choices I’m making. I’m in as much charge of my life as I feel anyone can be. It’s scary about 33 percent of the time. The rest of the time I’m genuinely enthusiastic about it.

I’m not a self-made billionaire. I haven’t built a startup and sold it for a ridiculous amount of money. I’m not a best-selling author with a potential movie deal.

I’m an entrepreneur who isn’t willing to live someone else’s life. I measure my success by the things that make me happy, not by things that are glorified by our society.

Stop being busy. Start being honest with yourself. Make changes in your life. It will be scary, but it will be worth it.

Read next: The J. J. Abrams guide to intelligent online business