When we spend so much time working in our business, often our perspective gets warped and shifted out of proportion. Urgent work tasks are often mistaken for important ones. Here is a simple five-step process to escape the busyness trap.
Our world is too busy. This busyness has created a population where stress-related heart disease and cancer are at an all time high. Time is irreplaceable. If you lose money, you can always make more; waste your time, and you’ll never get it back.
All of us have a limited number of seconds in our lives. We don’t know how much time we really have, yet we don’t treat it with enough respect.
This is even truer in business. Every second spent in your business is time spent building something to help people, generate profit and build a future for you and your family.
So when you spend your time on tasks that don’t build your vision, it becomes lost time. Having a clear value on your time is key to the success of the Stop Doing List system.
Step 1 – Shift your mindset
We have all heard the old adage “strategy before tactics”. When it comes to escaping the busyness trap, your mantra must be “mindset before tactics”.
There are plenty of tools, tips and tricks that will help you manage your time better, however these will fail 100 per cent of the time with the wrong mindset.
It is essential that you eliminate the self-talk that says, “It’s quicker if I do it myself” or “I can’t afford for someone else to do it,” or my personal favourite, “No one can do it as good as me”.
This needs to be replaced with learning to say no. Doing less will often lead to achieving more – the 80/20 rule and understanding that paying someone else to do the tasks is an investment, not an expense.
Step 2 - Get clear on what an hour of your time is worth
When you work for an employer, you are told what your time is worth. Your hourly rate is set by the government, agreement or contract, and you always know what an hour is worth to you (and to your employer).
Whether you are working for $15 an hour flipping burgers or $100 an hour managing a company, your hourly rate is usually clear (if not, your weekly, monthly or annual rate certainly is).
You know how much effort is required to earn that hourly rate, and if you want to keep earning, you need to work hard at the tasks set by the boss. You know that if you waste an hour while working, you might suffer penalties, and so are kept accountable.
Along the way, as we became business owners, many of us lost track of knowing the value of our time. We started looking at the list of tasks we had to complete rather than understanding what tasks or roles were essential to complete, to maximise our hourly return as the business owner.
Often we sacrifice our time on tasks that, however, necessary as they are, add nothing to the bottom line.
We start treating all tasks as equal and, instead of guarding our time as our most precious commodity and carefully choosing where we will spend it, we waste it.
Step 3 – Keep a time log for two weeks
In order to escape the busyness trap, you need to understand how you are spending your time. A time log (as tedious as it may seem) will provide valuable insights into how you are choosing to spend your time. That’s right: you are choosing where you spend your time.
Often we fall victim to feeling our time is not ours, or that we are at the beck and call of our customers, staff or suppliers.
We all have the power to choose where we focus our energy and how we spend our time.
Step 4 – Identify your Genius Zone
The simplest way to describe your Genius Zone is through tasks or activities that you love to do and are really good at, and if your day is filled with these tasks or activities, you will feel energised and happy.
Genius Zone tasks are generally easy for you to do and you tend to do them naturally. Your Genius Zone tasks also tend to be highly profitable.
You will often hear yourself saying, “If only I had more time to do XYZ, then we would make significantly more money.”
Step 5 – Create your ‘stop doing’ list
The ‘stop doing’ list will be all of the tasks that do not fall into your Genius Zone. Now while this might be an extensive list, the goal is to “stop doing” unessential things little by little.
Initially you can probably bundle some tasks together and engage a part-time virtual assistant at a relatively low cost to take care of these. At a minimum, you should commit to stopping one task per month.
Long and short is that this is simple and easy to do, but it is also easy not to do! My advice is to give it a go. Commit to the process for one month, give it 100 per cent and see what happens – after all, you deserve it.
Matt Malouf is a speaker, business coach, author and entrepreneur whose mission is to help business owners build amazing businesses that enable them to live a life of freedom and fulfilment. His new book, The Stop Doing List, is available now.