We all know the feeling, we have to make a call or send an email to explain why we haven't delivered on something in the agreed time frame. Or perhaps someone has become increasingly frustrated because you haven't returned their call or email. Somewhere in the discussion, the words slip out "it's just that I've been so busy".
Now to me this is the worst possible excuse you can give for failing to deliver on anything, mainly because the person you are saying it to is probably far busier than you, yet they manage to get stuff done. And even if they aren't, you've made it very clear where they fit in the pecking order of your priorities.
If you find yourself using the "I've just been so busy" excuse it might be time to come up with a better approach. Nothing is more infuriating when you are crazy busy yourself to have someone using it as an excuse. You can't help but say to yourself "I'm working 80 hours a week and you're using the 'I'm so busy' excuse". In some ways it can almost feel a little insulting.
Perhaps it's time to just be honest. Explain what has actually taken your attention and time away and what you are doing about it. Reassure the person that you taking steps to either be less busy, explaining how that will look and what it will mean for them.
The bottom line is pretty simple, we are all ridiculously busy and getting busier by the minute. Saying it is fairly redundant. It's kind of like saying water is wet. Who is sitting around for more work to come flooding in, or more emails to fill our inbox, or more tasks requiring our attention on a daily basis? Be more honest with why you are so busy and what you will do to avoid failing to deliver and you might just retain that customer.
For now, whenever you feel those words about to leave your mouth, or you start typing them, stop and think for a minute about the person you are sending this message to. Just how busy are they? What does their life look like? Odds on they are just as busy as you, if not busier and perhaps you should just say sorry and make sure it doesn't happen again.