Aug 12, 2017 filed under Prudence.

Busy woman with laptop

Someone said to my husband today, “When you’re too busy, you’re too busy.” I laughed hard when I heard it because it’s so obvious, but do we realize it?

Too busy means too busy for the things that are truly important. So what’s important? Important things lead us toward our larger goals. And that’s the catch. We have to know what our biggest goals are to recognize what’s important.

It’s tempting to put off writing down our goals. But if we don’t write them, we’ll keep filling our time with things that keep us too busy to do what we were born to do. And we’ll probably end up too busy for God.

As productivity expert Michael Hyatt says, we sometimes choose urgent things over important things and then wonder why we are so frazzled.

Naming our goals helps clarify what our priorities should be—what’s most important. The downside to naming our goals and priorities is having to say “no” to less important things. That can be hard. We don’t want to do that, so we end up too busy.

In the Washington, DC, area where I live, some people use “too busy” as a point of pride. As if “too busy” means “irreplaceable” or “necessary for the continuation of life as we know it on the planet.”


Healthy busy-ness is intentionally working to achieve an important goal. For example, I’m creating an online course on the virtues right now. I’ve chosen it as a priority because it “magnifies the Lord” and will lead souls, including me, toward heaven where we all belong.

But busyness-gone-bad can be a spiritual smokescreen that we use to keep ourselves from facing our failings, fears, and real needs.

I read a book recently that has helped me overcome the tyranny of my to-do list. It’s called Getting Things Done by David Allen. First published in 2001, it was revised two years ago. Not the best title because it sounds like how to wedge even more into our already wedgy days. But no. A better title would have been “Getting Important Things Done.” Because that’s the point—once we realize that we choose what gets done, we’re not at the beck and call of everything urgent that floats by calling our name.

Deliberately blocking out time ahead of time for things we have chosen as important strengthens our prudence, the virtue that helps us make good choices. That is, putting what’s important on the calendar and scheduling everything else around that enables us to slow down and consider our choices. When our mind is clear, we’re more able to put God, our families, our health­—or whatever we’ve let slip— back into our lives. That creates a virtuous cycle instead of the other kind.

The book is teaching me to write down all the nagging items floating around in my brain and prioritize them. That way, they’re not constantly bugging me. I’m free to focus on the task in front of me right now. And to be more creative in everything I do.

So what priority slips off my calendar when I’m not looking? I need to schedule prayer time with Jesus at the tabernacle. Schedule my dates with Jesus. Ha! This is freedom. This is power.

What one thing will you “schedule first” that will transform busy-ness into holy-ness?

Love always,

16 Responses to “When You’re Too Busy”

  1. Ann

    Thanks for this perspective about choosing what we do. At the exit of a church I visit is a painted sign across the arch. It quotes St. Bernadette who said, “I must become a saint. My Lord expects it.” Your twist on changing “busyness” into “holy-ness” helps me create a path!

    • Rose Folsom

      Thanks for the reminder that sainthood is, by the grace of God, not out of reach but what we were born for!

  2. Tom Roberts

    Busy? Schedule? Choices? The Full Focus Planner? How about the family that lost all its savings in the crash of 1929, the family that lost its farm in the dust bowl? Then there’s the nurse who works back to back shifts, first because she has to and second because she doesn’t want to walk out on people entrusted to her care. How about the combat soldier who’s worst fear is letting his buddy down? The single mom who works two jobs because neither pays a living wage and there’s rent and food to put on the table. In our world of choices these are the people we don’t want to hear about. So we get busy with our Full Focus Planner.

    How about these choices: “for I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was in prison and you came to me.”

  3. Socorro

    When asked how I am… My reply every single time is: “I am blessed!” “God is so good!” Sometimes I even add the word fantabulous…Life in all its forms and situations is a gift…

  4. Christine Longhenry

    How wonderful that I would read this before going to Mass this morning! In his homily, Monsignor reminded us that taking the time to be apart from the world to rest in the Lord is so vital and refreshing for our lives. Being still is not a crime, and wearing “busy-ness” like a badge of honor is dangerous to our spiritual well-being.

    • Rose Folsom

      Thanks, Christine! Love the “vital and refreshing.” When I feel the opposite (drained and weighed-down) I know I’m listening to my own ego and not connecting with the freedom and inner joy God’s always offering me.

  5. Sal

    Hello Rose,

    Yes, if we are too busy, then something is definitely off kilter. After all, even God rested after six days of working and He is an infinitely perfect being!

    I recall one of the worst positions I held at my job, all these high/top level priority projects, inquiries, etc., came my way and then I had to stop and tell my manager that if everything is a priority, then nothing can be done!

    As it is with all these busy friends of ours. My aim/goal for the past several years is to put our Lord first, after all He is our Lord and King. I started to go to daily Mass during Lent and then gradually a couple of years ago I decided to continue to go even though Lent was over!

    Now, even if I am away, I still attend daily Mass no matter where I am! If you put God first, everything else will fall into place. Holy Scripture is God speaking to each and everyone of us through his prophets!

    Today is the feast day of Maximilian Kolby. In his youth he saw a vision of our blessed Mother holding a white crown and a red one. She asked him which one he would choose. He told her both of them.

    He volunteered his own life to prevent a husband and father from being killed by the Nazis. He fulfilled his wish to receive the red crown.

    We are all called to holiness. To be Saints. What else is there!

    Peace in Christ.

    • Rose Folsom

      Thank you for sharing that daily Mass has become your priority and you find that everything else falls into place.

  6. Mary Hamm

    Thanks Rose, great reflection. I totally agree. But God first in your day and you’ll have fuel for the whole day!

  7. Diane

    Thanks, Rose! Dave Ramsey, who hosts a call-in radio show regarding personal finances, has a great answer when callers ask him how he is doing: “Better than I deserve,” he replies. This is a wonderful way to be mindful of our blessings.

    • Rose Folsom

      Yes, his answer shows humility — thanks for passing that along. I love Dave Ramsey — he helps us with the virtues of honesty (facing reality as it is) and thrift (just because we have money doesn’t mean we should spend it all). He’s also funny!

  8. TC

    A while back I responded to something that has been cluttering my email for over a year, which makes it tedious for me to go through them. I have been working on it bit by bit and I don’t think it was an accident that I opened an email from my mother that connected me with this exact page. I have been ‘busy’, many are with things of service to others, but I need to start at home. I have been putting God at the beginning of most everyday (I’m still a work in progress), I needed to put my home closer to the top then I have been. I see that the clutter and stuff is holding me back from being my the daughter of God I chose to come to this earth to be. What I read here just enforces the impressions I have had, God first, but not for hours. It is not my season for that at this time. God has a house of order and I need a house of order too. I will still continue to put Him first each day so I can be of better service to Him, myself, my family and my home. Thank you!