19 Other Ways to Say “I’m Busy”

If you’re too busy to take on more work or social obligations, it’s essential to be communicative about this. But is the phrase “I’m busy” an appropriate way to set boundaries?

We’re here to answer that question! Moreover, we’ll help you figure out how to tell someone you are busy politely by providing some useful synonyms to boot.

Other Ways to Say “I’m Busy”

  • My schedule is full
  • I’m spread pretty thin
  • I’m slammed
  • I’m swamped
  • My plate is full
  • I’m tied up
  • I’m otherwise engaged
  • I’m otherwise occupied
  • My hands are full
  • I’m at maximum capacity
  • I’m preoccupied
  • I’m juggling a lot right now
  • I don’t have the bandwidth
  • Things are really hectic
  • I’m up to my ears
  • I don’t have time for this right now
  • I can’t right now
  • Let me get back to you
  • I’m currently experiencing a time crunch


  • It’s perfectly okay to say “I’m busy” to let people know that you don’t have time to spare.
  • As a formal alternative, you can say “my schedule is full” instead.
  • In informal settings, you can say “I’m spread pretty thin.”

Keep reading to see how we use our favorite formal and informal synonyms for “I’m busy” in a few examples.

After that, we’ll talk about the original phrase in more detail. Is it a good idea to use it?

My Schedule Is Full (Formal)

If you’re wondering how to say “I’m busy” professionally, we’d go with “my schedule is full” as a formal synonym.

You can use this phrase in the workplace or in an email to let your colleagues know that you can’t fit any new tasks into your busy timetable.

It’s perfectly okay to say “I’m busy” in a formal setting. However, this alternative phrase has the benefit of sounding like things are out of your hands. In this way, it comes across as a tad more polite.

Now, let’s look at a few examples of what to say when your schedule is too busy:

Dear Ryan,

Unfortunately, my schedule is full on the 17th.

Would you be available on the 18th at 3 pm instead?


Sorry, I’d be happy to help, but my schedule is quite full today.

I’m Spread Pretty Thin (Informal)

If you’re considering what to say instead of “I’m busy” in informal circumstances, one of our top synonyms is “I’m spread pretty thin.”

This is an idiom meaning that you have many tasks on the go and not enough time to take on any more. Therefore, you can use this phrase as a polite way of saying “I’m busy.”

As this phrase is idiomatic, we wouldn’t recommend using it in formal correspondence with your boss. However, you can use it to let your friends, family, or colleagues know that you can’t take anything on at the moment,

After all, this expression implies that you simply don’t have the time or resources to help and that it’s out of your control.

Let’s look at a couple of examples making use of this phrase:

Sorry, I can’t help with the decorating, but I’m spread pretty thin at the moment.

I’m spread pretty thin today, but I can probably make time for that on Tuesday.

Is It Ok to Say “I’m Busy”?

It’s perfectly okay to say “I’m busy” when you don’t have the time to take on a new task.

This phrase is neither particularly formal nor informal. Therefore, you can use it in all kinds of circumstances.

“I’m busy” is a good phrase to use to set boundaries at work or in your social life. It’s important to ensure that you create balance in your life and don’t take on more than you can handle!

What’s most important is how you go about phrasing the rest of your statement. You’ll want to ensure that you use a polite tone at all times!

  • I’d love to help, but, unfortunately, I’m busy with the Finn account today.
  • Sorry, I am busy with party planning this week, but I can definitely help you next week.
  • I’m busy right now, but I can call you in half an hour if that suits you.

If you sound impatient when you say “I’m busy,” it could come across as rude. So, take care with your tone of voice and the surrounding text if you’re saying “I’m busy” in an email or message.

In conclusion, the phrase “I’m busy” is perfectly okay to say when you don’t have enough time to help someone with something. You can use it in both formal and informal settings.

If you found our list of alternative phrases useful, go ahead and bookmark this page for later!