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5-step plan to escape the busyness trap

By Matt Malouf
03 May 2017 | 1 minute read

When we spend so much time working, we end up taking on more than we should. Here are five simple steps 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.

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, but they 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 well 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 lose track of knowing the value of our time. We started looking at the list of tasks we have to complete rather than understanding what tasks or roles are essential to complete, to maximise our hourly return as the business owner.

Often, we sacrifice our time on tasks that, while necessary, 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 will provide valuable insights into how you are choosing to spend your time. 

We often 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, 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. While this might be an extensive list, the goal is to stop doing non-essential 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 them. At a minimum, you should commit to stopping one task per month.

Commit to the process for one month, give it 100 per cent and see what happens. After all, you deserve it.

5-step plan to escape the busyness trap
Matt Malouf
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Matt Malouf

Matt Malouf

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. 

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