“Hello, I am busy.” That has nearly become the standard greeting in the United States of America. 

But there is an answer that brings improvement, and it is not simply better “time management,” according to David Burton, county engagement specialist in community economic development with University of Missouri Extension.

“The truth is, most people feel frazzled and overwhelmed much of the time. We're distracted and preoccupied in the same sorts of ways--struggling under the weight of work, family, exercise, bills, church, school, friends, and a barrage of requests, demands, and desires,” said Burton. “It's safe to say that on a typical day for most of us, our responsibilities, requirements, and ambitions add up to more than we can handle.”

Burton says that after having a frantic 2018, he has been thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Someone suggested he read the book “Crazy Busy” and it hit a nerve for him.

“The biggest dangers arising from this hectic and frustrating modern life are not what we might expect,” said Burton. “An immediate and obvious threat is that busyness can ruin our joy. When we're frantic and frenzied, we're more prone to anxiety, resentment, impatience, and irritability.”

According to the book, Burton says our chaos of busyness is at least partly self-created. Often pride is a factor. 

“We are busy because we try to do too many things. We do too many things because we say yes to too many people. We say yes because we want these people to like us and pat our back; we fear their disapproval,” said Burton. 

Busyness also springs from such prideful factors as our tendency to overestimate our importance, our ambition to prove ourselves, or poor planning resulting from our refusal to seek help. 

How can we tell when pride has made us frantic and overwhelmed? Here's a self-diagnostic question you may find helpful: Am I trying to do good--or to make myself look good?

If that question hits you hard, it make be time to change some priorities. That can alter the way we parent, what we do with electronic devices, and how we approach rest according to Burton.

“We are supposed to be busy but in the right way. The antidote to over-busyness isn't sloth and indifference. It isn't work itself that's bad busyness, but working hard at the wrong things: trying to please or control others, trying to do things we haven't been called to do,” said Burton. 

An important part of the change is taking a hard look at priorities according to Burton.

Days are busy and times are tough. That means setting priorities in our personal and professional lives is more important now than ever before.

“I didn’t always appreciate the need for setting priorities in life but it is something I’ve come to appreciate since having children,” said Burton. “I’ve got lots of different interests and a very long bucket list. I also have a hard time saying no. That isn’t a good combination.”

However, being stretched too thin makes it impossible to do great work in core areas. 

“After deciding your priorities decide what you need to meet them. If your priority is time, then you need to protect some of yours,” said Burton. “Our challenge is to find the balance we each need for meeting our priorities.”

Then get some rest. Burton suggests taking at least one day per week to rest or do something that rejuvenates you.

For more information, contact David Burton at the Greene County MU Extension by telephone (417) 881-8909 or email at

Media Contact