Nowadays, it seems like being busy is a privilege and a must. If you are important at all, you are busy. People should not be able to reach you when they need you; instead, you should only respond to messages or have time for meetings days or weeks after you receive a request. (I must admit this is useful when you, for whatever reason, do not want to talk or meet with someone.)
Not talking about the implications of this, that means that people need to describe their schedules! If you are tired of simply saying that you are busy, use some of these synonyms that can detail exactly why you do not have the time for something.
Synonyms for Busy as an Adjective
To have that time filled
- Tom was occupied with meetings all day, so he could not come to lunch with us.
To be engaged means to be doing something; often used in the phrase “to be otherwise engaged”
- I wanted to invite Daniel, but his assistant said he would be otherwise engaged.
To be a part of something, whether it is as a main component or leader, or as the person taking notes
- There are 20 people involved in this project, so the scheduling will be difficult.
- At noon tomorrow, Ms. Carter will be involved in lunch with the Director of National Intelligence and Minister of Defense, so she is not available.
To have a job; while this does not necessarily mean you will be busy at a certain point in time, people who have a job typically have at least 50 hours of their week set aside for that job. The relationship of employment to being busy, therefore, is more of a general one than being busy at a specific time.
- Steven was finally employed and seemed to never have time to do the chores around the house again.
- Since Margaret became employed, she has not been to any of our book club meetings.
To contribute to something, especially as a project on a longer term and something meaningful.
- I am sorry I have not been able to have dinner with you as often as before, but I want to show you this new invention I have been working on!
To toil means to work very hard on something; toiling away gives the image of working very hard into the night constantly, trying to complete a very difficult project before a deadline of some sort (whether imposed by yourself or someone else)
- Jackie has been absolutely toiling away at work every night, but her boss still treats her so poorly!
To be preoccupied means that you already have something to do when someone asks you about something else. This is especially useful when talking about your mental power; if you have a preoccupied mind, it means that you can physically be a meeting but your mind is thinking about something else that distracts your attention.
- Paul has been so preoccupied lately – I wonder if everything is okay with his family.
- Lisa spend the whole day preoccupied with arranging the private tour for the VIP clients, so she did not get a chance to contact her superiors about the other issue.
To be tireless means that you have a lot of work to do, but you do not get tired. You are able to push through a huge stack of work without getting discouraged and can come back to it easily.
- Marie works so tirelessly for her patients, so they nominated her for Doctor of the Year.
Busy as a bee
Bees are extremely busy (if they are workers). They have to go out of the hive to find pollen and bring it back, build the bee hive, and tend to the queen and the bee larvae, among other things.
To be busy as a bee means to have to juggle a number of tasks at the same time and constantly be rushing around to complete them.
- Laura was always busy as a bee at work, but none of her coworkers ever knew what it was she was actually doing.
On the go
To do something while you are on the way to something else; to be on transportation (in a car, taxi, airplane; on a bike or subway, etc.) and working on something.
- The protein bars are great for moms on the go, because they do not need any preparation and still provide a number of necessary nutrients.
Have one’s hands full
You can imagine someone holding a bunch of groceries when they are coming out of the store, and all their bags are bulging out of their arms. If the bags of groceries are tasks, this is what it means to have one’s hands full.
This phrase is often used to talk about parents who have multiple children, particularly if they are young.
- Blake has his hands full with his demanding job and his three young children at home.
Bustling typically describes a situation or place rather than people. However, as long as the noun is busy, running from place to place and full of activity, it is bustling.
- The noise and the fast pace of the bustling city square was almost overwhelming for the solo backpacker.
Hard at it
To go hard at something means to concentrate and work towards something. When you do not know specifically what the person is working on, you can say “it” to substitute.
In some contexts, especially as a command, saying “go hard at it” to someone just serves as an enthusiastic encouragement for them to keep doing what they are doing.
- Max thought that his daughter would not like to play Sudoku puzzles, but as soon as she learned the rules she starting going hard at them!
Something that is hectic is crazy and chaotic. This often describes a situation including a schedule, but can also be used to talk about someone’s mind if they are thinking about a lot of different things.
- One of my coworkers suddenly quit her job, so the office has been very hectic the past few days, trying to figure out what people need to do to cover for her.
- Part of my insomnia comes from my hectic thoughts that come to my mind right as I get into bed.
A time, period, or event that is eventful is one that has a lot of things going on, and might include a surprise or two. Typically, it has something that is slightly out of the ordinary that makes it notable.
- After my very eventful day, I just want to curl up on my bed and sleep forever.
While vibrant is typically used to describe a physical object, it can also describe a person. Someone or something vibrant is bright and happy, and usually full of energy.
- His vibrant personality always brightens my day.
Usually used to describe a person, lively means that they are full of energy. The person is full of life and very active and outgoing.
- Jane has a very outgoing and lively personality.
Synonyms for Busy as a Verb
To involve means to be a part of something.
- Frank always like to involve himself in the problems that are happening all over the office.
If a problem concerns you, it means that you need to take note of it and work to help solve it. You can also concern yourself with the problems of a company or department, which means that you try to take an active role in something and keep up with new developments.
- It is annoying that Travis always tries to concern himself with the problems of the company, but only if it will affect him personally.
To interest yourself in something means to take an interest in it. In other words, you can be interested in it and seek out more information about it.
- Now that Craig has interested himself in kayaking, his weekends have been full with kayaking trips.
To entertain something means to give someone a good time (like the way that a performer will entertain their audience). However, it also means to give someone or something some attention.
- I can’t believe that the director is actually entertaining this fool’s ideas – they are completely unrealistic and wacky!
To absorb yourself in something means to dedicate your full attention to it and spend all your time trying to learn more and figure it out.
- Vincent absorbed himself into his chemistry textbook last night, so he did not get any sleep at all.
To engross means to devote your focus to something. This is especially true if it starts to consume the entirety of your day and comes at the cost of other things.
- Patrick engrossed himself in the film and missed 15 phone calls from him mother.
In a more dated or historical usage, to beguile means to capture the attention of someone.
- Advertisements from the 1960s beguiled children into asking their parents for a variety of toys.