SLT036: Busy Is The New “I’m Fine”, & Back To School…Simplified!

Busy Is The New “I’m Fine”, & Back To School…Simplified!

Dan’s Topic: Simplicity Resources

So what’s your default response when someone asks you “How’s it going?”

  • I’ve been noticing that the most common response is…“Busy!” I’ve even found myself guilty of it from time to time.
  • I’m not sure if people really are that busy, just think they’re supposed to be that busy, or just perceive themselves as that busy.
  • I’m also not sure what my reaction is supposed to be.


  • But I have to admit, when I hear people use the automatic response to “How’s it going” is “Busy”, I’m skeptical. So, when I hear it I wonder, is it: Read more…

    • Really a mini head-trip?
    • Are they saying “I’m so important…people rely on me!”?
    • Is it a defense mechanism for “Don’t give me anything else to do”?
    • Are they justifying their poor prioritization?
    • Is it an excuse for not taking action on things that really matter?

So, I began to wonder if I was the only one this bothered and did a little searching. I found a great article on Lifehacker by Janet Choi called How to Escape the Cult of “Busy”. It starts out:

People who often say they’re “too busy” or “crazy busy” sound like buzzing busy signals. And when you start sounding like an appliance, it makes it hard to connect with you.

I couldn’t agree more.

So if you’re like me and find yourself falling into the habit of replying “Busy” when someone asks “How’s it going?”,  take some time to evaluate whether you’re just making excuses for something else. If you truly have let yourself become too busy,  then find out why. Because being too busy is a problem and will stand in the way of simplifying your life.

You may want to use one of my favorite tools for getting to the root of the problem. It’s called “The Five Whys”.

  • Using “The Five Whys” is easy, you simply ask “why” after each reason and continue to ask that for each answer.
  • For example:
    • Why am I so busy?
      • Because I go from meeting to meeting during the day and don’t have time to “do my job.”
    • Why do you go from meeting to meeting?
      • Because for some of them, I’m just expected to be there.
    • Why are you expected to be there?
      • I’m not too sure…it doesn’t have much to do with my job.
    • If it doesn’t deal with your job, why haven’t you discussed with your boss that you may have a better use of your time?
      • Because the guy I replaced was used to go, too.
    • Why did he go to the meetings?
      • Because he had a personal interest in the program.

When I’ve used the 5 Whys to get to the root cause of why I’m not getting work done, more often than not it comes down to one root cause…FACEBOOK!

  • Actually, Facebook is just the tool, really it comes down to what Steven Pressfield calls “The Resistance” in his books The War of Art and Do The Work.
    • It’s that internal force that allows you to be distracted from what’s important.
    • It’s following the rabbit down the rabbit hole.
    • It’s the little guy on your shoulder that…when you’re working on something really important, like solving world hunger, that little guys says…”You know, you should check Facebook!”
    • Fellow WDSer Adam Baker from Man vs Debt has a great interview with Steven Pressfield that focuses on The Resistance if you want to learn more about it. I’ll link to that in the shownotes as well.

OK, so back to the Five Whys. Now, despite the name “Five Whys”, you’re not limited to 5 nor do you do you have to go 5 whys deep in order to find your root cause. Five is simply the typical number of times it takes to get to that root cause.

Further, The Five Whys doesn’t “solve” your problem, it simply identifies it.  In my experience the best way to solve problems are to

1-Identify the problem

2- Determine whether the situation fits in with your long term goals

3- Decide/commit to eliminating the problem, and what action to take

4- Take action

These 4 steps sound alot like the OODA Loop we talked about back in Episode 16

Another great resource for making yourself less busy is an article titled The Power of Saying No by some gal named Vanessa Hayes over at a site called Get Simplifized.

In that post, the author (our very own Vanessa Hayes) writes:  Saying NO can have a profound impact on your life:

    • It allows you to be honest with yourself and with others.
    • It helps you keep your priorities in check.
    • It let’s people know you’re in charge of your time…and no one else.
    • It can be very empowering.
    • It prevents you from having feelings of resentment caused by doing things you’d rather not be doing.
    • It keeps you from doing or saying things you’ll regret.
    • It helps you avoid needless stress and procrastination.
    • It helps you earn self-respect and respect from others.

Vanessa also shared some tips for taking back your time back in Episode 18, so folks can re-listen to that episode as well.

Vanessa’s Topic: Back to School Simplified

For the past month, we’ve been out of town on business and vacation. And while it’s been great and we’ve had a lot of fun this summer, it’s time to get ready for back to school….especially since our kids will be starting school in just a couple of weeks! So with back to school season in full swing,  I thought I’d share a few tips with you on how to make the transition from the easy breezy summer to the busy busy school season a little bit easier.

Here are a few tips (as usual…in no real particular order):

1. Sort through last year’s clothes to determine what new clothing items your children will need.

2. Take inventory of school supplies you already have. Then make a list and stick to it!

3.  Check your mailers for back to school sales.

4.  Attend the parent, student and teacher conference.

5. Coordinate carpooling with other neighborhood parents.

6. Set up after school care and plan for sick days, snow days and holidays.

7.  Visit the pediatrician to ensure vaccinations and physicals are completed and up to date.

8. Create a mini command center to keep track of calendars, schedules and other to-do things for the kids and family.

9.  Establish morning and nighttime routines for your children.

10. Before school starts, find out about your kid’s school lunch program.

11. Get a copy of the school menu and make a habit of checking it at least weekly or every night.

12. Set up routine payments to the school.

13. If paying by cash on a daily basis, establish a routine of making sure your kids get their lunch money.

14. Store the cash in a cute wallet or other creative container like a wrist wallet or zippered armband.

15. Packed Lunches: The key to planning lunches is to, well…plan!  So…just a few additional tips on packing lunches:

        • I recommend just planning one week at a time to keep things simple and lessen the chance of food spoiling or not getting eaten.
        • Shop once or twice a week and put on your calendar the day/days you will shop.
        • Make lunches the night before.
        • Get your kids involved!
        • Set up a lunch making station.
        • Pick meals and snacks that are easy to prepare.
        • Pack individual snack-sized items to save you time.

16.  Establish rules for doing homework, using the computer and watching television.

17. Get the kids in the habit of waking up and going to bed early about 1-2 weeks before school starts.

18.  Think Safety…Safety…Safety.  If your children walk to school, ride their bikes or ride the bus, it’s imperative that you keep their safety in mind.

19.  Talk with your children about school and get them pumped up!

THING Segment:

Dan’s Thing: Finally tapping into the personal hotspot function on our iPhones!

Vanessa’s Thing: Officially Becoming a CPO®


 The Google Drive Tutorial is now available for purchase! This tutorial is just over an hour long and focuses on all the fundamentals of how to use Google Drive for creating, sharing, and storing  documents using Google’s free, full-fledged office suite. This tutorial is available for $9.99, and you’ll learn how to create text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and even forms and surveys! So, don’t wait to pay full price! You can have immediate access to Dan’s 1 hour+  windshield tour of Google Drive right now! Simply click here or go to Plus, if you’re not completely satisfied I’ll give you your money back. So, no clutter and no risk…simple!

Resources and Links:

Support Charity Water Through Your Purchases

Google Drive Tutorial

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Do The Work by Steven Pressfield

Adam Baker’s Steven Pressfield Interview

Lifehacker Article by Janet Choi

The Power of Saying No by Vanessa Hayes

The OODA Loop Episode (SLT 018)

Taking Back Your Time Episode (SLT 016)

Some Products Vanessa Recommends for “Back to School”

Lunch Containers

Lunch Boxes

Cute Wallet

Wrist Wallet

Zippered Armband


If you haven’t already, please be sure to go to iTunes to subscribe to the show. Don’t forget to leave us a rating & review! Thanks!


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4 thoughts on “SLT036: Busy Is The New “I’m Fine”, & Back To School…Simplified!

  1. As our kids go back to school (and some start for the first time) I have to give a shout out to Planet Box. This is a company that was started by a mom in California. I do not have any connection to them except that my kids all have Planet Boxes and they are simply amazing! No plastic to leach into my kids food and they are good looking, easy to clean and they wear and wear and wear. We love Planet Box! Oh, and no plastic bags to throw away … good for Mother Earth too!

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