We all have the same 24 hours in a day.

“How’ve you been man?

I haven’t seen you in forever! What’s new?”

“Keeping busy”.

“My life is crazy”.

“I’ve been super busy lately”.

This word gets thrown around way too much. We go to work, and have a personal life, but we aren’t THAT busy. Are we? Show me your Netflix history, and you’ll tell me everything I need to know.

Working hard is a healthy part of existence, but to answer every new question with how busy you are…is bullshit.

I call BS. I call it on you. I call it on me (because I struggle with this too much too).

Because guess what. My life is crazy at times too. I don’t do well with one thing on my plate. I’m not someone you’d call complacent, or comfortable. I always have something going on. I have a marriage, a 5 month old baby, getting in shape, I try to grab coffee with friend or people in town I’d like to meet, maintaining Twitter friendships, working a full-time job, or running 2 of my own businesses!

Sure. I’m busy.

But to tout it around for every scenario like so many of us do, is crap. Let’s break down how to get out of this cycle, so we can start understanding that intentionality and choice are two of the biggest things in your control.


01 — Proactive vs Reactive Living

We all have stuff going on, but if you can’t slice out everything into it’s own category (loosely, don’t be a cyborg about it) in your head, you’re going to have a hard time keeping things on track.

Being proactive means you understand life is busy, but only to a means where you take the positive angle to understanding what you are committing to.

You’re making goals, chipping away at the bigger vision…you’re not necessarily in control of everything, but you understand which path you’re on. You turned into that lane. You know how fast you’re driving, and you see each milepost.

If everything in life were equal though, we would have a really hard time being effective with anything. To our advantage, aspects of life are not equal, and usually personal sides of life probably take priority over functional aspects, like work. Your wife should be a heck of a lot more important than work, yet you need work in your life to take care of your family. It’s not an easy balance at all.

If you can’t figure out what’s most important in life and stick to those aspects, you’ll kill yourself trying to do everything, all the time. People will ask you to do everything and you’ll have to react. You will not longer be going after life, but having life approach you a million miles an hour.

Go after what is important to you and stop comparing yourself to others who don’t share the same vision, qualities, and methods. Be proactive, and let other’s live their life in a reactive manner.


02 — Learn How To Say No

As we age, more and more opportunities show up on our doorstep. A new business idea, new relationship, new request, a new inconvenience, a new distraction, a new addiction, a new hobby…

The list goes on and on. Life is hard, but if you can’t say NO to that which doesn’t fit within your vision for life, you’ll say YES to everything, helping everyone else with their’s!

Hence, we become “busy”. If you’re saying yes to please everyone, realize they’ll probably forget you after the deed is done. Yes-men/women don’t change history very often, but the people who take a stand to say NO to both small and large things to make sure they’re dedicating time to their vision, do.


03 — Time-box Your Day

I’m not sure if this a product development term or just something most people understand, but time-boxing your day is going to help you set deadlines for yourself.

I love deadlines. They’re like a game to me.

You have 2 hours to get “x” done. When time is up, it’s time to move onto the next task or goal for the day.

Don’t go crazy with this (you’ll only end up with robotic friends who take the same too seriously). I don’t do this perfectly, but here’s an example of how I think about time-boxing my day…


  1. 6am : Get up and eat breakfast
  2. 6:45am : Hit the gym or go for a run
  3. 7:45 : Shower and get ready for work
  4. 8:30/9am : Check in with my co-workers/design lead
  5. 10am : Figure out my tasks for the day (mini-goals)
  6. Task 1 (1–2 hours)
  7. Task 2 (1–2 hours)
  8. Task 3 (1–2 hours), etc.
  9. Go home
  10. Work on side-business stuff
  11. Relax with wife


Depending on what I might have to do that night for work (side-businesses), I’ll either just spend time with my wife and baby, or tell myself I will be done working on “x” at 8pm (example).

It’s all about knowing the end time, and doing your best to put a task within a box of time rather than working endlessly into the night just because you think you’re accomplishing work. At some point, you’ll just be producing waste. Give yourself a time-limit.


In Summary

We’re all busy. But it doesn’t have to rule our lives. It shouldn’t. We don’t live to work or be busy. We work so we can support, love, and be with our family and friends. Don’t get it backwards…and next time someone asks you how you’ve been, I challenge you to say something other than…..“busy”.


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