We all lead busy lives and sometimes it feels like we’re never going to get off that treadmill. In English, there are many idiomatic expressions to express this “busyness”.

I know that some colleagues in the ELT community question whether we should teach idioms to our learners, especially as there are more non-native speakers than native speakers of English in the world. I, for one, think that idiomatic expressions give colour to a language and even if the learner might never use these expressions or be expected to use them, they are very likely to come across them when reading or listening to native speakers. So, an awareness of them is vital if they are to understand what they’re reading or listening to.

Back to busy lives. In this post I’d like to share 8 idioms that are often used to describe a busy working life.The examples I’ve used are business-related.

1. All hands on deck
1. 全员各就各位

When there’s a lot of work to be done and everyone needs to be involved.

As the opening day approached, it was all hands on deck to get everything ready in time.

2. Hive of activity
2. 一片繁忙的景象

A place where there are a lot of things happening and everyone is busy.

When I arrived at the office, the place was already a hive of activity with everyone buzzing around.

3. Rushed off your feet
3. 忙的不可开交

You are so busy that you don’t have time to stop.

I am exhausted. I’ve been rushed off my feet all day at the shop.

4. Work your fingers to the bone
4. 拼命地做,非常努力

To work very hard or to be extremely hardworking.

He deserves his success. He worked his fingers to the bone when he started the business.

5. Roll up your sleeves
5. 卷起袖子准备大干一场

Get ready for hard work.

If we’re going to increase our market share, we’re going to have to roll our sleeves and get new customers.

6. Have your work cut out
6. 按时完成艰巨的任务

Have a difficult or challenging task or problem to deal with.

They have their work cut out with that client. He is incredibly demanding.

7. A race against time
7. 和时间赛跑

Working towards a deadline.

I have so many deadlines. It’s a never-ending race against time to meet them.

8. Hit the ground running
8. 立即快马加鞭地开展重要工作

Start an activity immediately and with energy.

He intends to hit the ground running if and when he wins that contract.