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▶ to be snowed under (Sorry, can't get drunk tonight. I am snowed under at the office) = very busy 

▶ to be tied up (Sorry, I can't come to your birthday party. I am a bit tied up at the moment. So much work to do. Sorry, my wife.) = busy but subtle. 

▶ to have enough on one's plate (Oh please don't ask me to do more work! I have enough on my plate as it is!) = busy in a stressed way 

▶ to be up to one's neck in work (Sorry baby, can't help you do the shopping. I am still in the office. I am up to my neck in work) = busy, informal register. (rude version: up to my bollocks in work) 

▶ to be knee-deep in work (As a proctologist I am always knee-deep in work. So many people to see and so little time) 

▶ to be swamped with work (I can't answer any phone calls because I am swamped with work) = very busy, informal 

▶ to be buried under at work (I can't attend our hamster's funeral today, my love because daddy is buried under at work.) = very busy, neutral register 

▶ to be occupied (I can't come to the meeting right now. I am somewhat occupied right now) busy, could be something embarrassing, sarcastic, neutral register 

▶ to be preoccupied (Emmm, I can't come out of the bathroom right now, emmmm, I am a bit preoccupied here... do you have any spare underpants on you?) = busy but in a subtle way. Can be polite if on the phone. 

▶ to be unavailable (Sorry, Sir, Paul is unavailable right this minute. Could i take a message?) busy, polite. 

▶ to be overloaded (I am so overloaded these days! My boss just doesn't stop giving me work to do! I can't take it anymore!!) - very busy, stressed, neutral register. 

▶ to be busy as a bee (You never have time for me, you are always as busy as a bee! I want a divorce!), busy, standard register. 

▶ to be busy as a beaver = same as above 

▶ to run around like a headless chicken (It's crazy in the office today. I have been running around like a headless chicken trying to get a million tasks done) = very busy but in an ineffective way, very informal 

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