Most business owners think about creating a “start doing” list, with its endless recitations of things they could be doing more of in order for the company to be bigger, better or more profitable.
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But there’s just as much value in asking yourself, "What needs to go on my 'stop doing' list?" When you create such a list, you detach yourself from the tasks that take up time without improving your bottom line.
For busy entrepreneurs, here are the top four habits that need to go on your "stop doing" list if you want to see more productivity, innovation and success:
1. Working for free.
It all adds up -- those little favors, those "quick" phone calls with a potential client who wants to "pick your brain" without hiring you. Pick and choose when you give of your time, without forgetting that for every item you complete when you say yes to someone else, you're saying "no" to yourself and your business.
The energy that's taken up by looking at what other businesses are doing and worrying about why your business isn't further along could be better spent innovating and exploring the issues not being addressed in your industry and how you could provide solutions for them.
3. Letting administrative tasks slide.
Are you forgetting to invoice clients, letting clients to pay late, restocking supplies at the last minute or not answering emails? When these administrative tasks pile up, you’re less likely to want to do them.
Decide on systems that can handle these tasks, outsource them entirely or determine that you're going to find a way to run your business that doesn't require them. For example, perhaps you'll start using auto-delivery from Amazon Prime for critical office supplies or you'll finally create that frequently asked questions (or FAQ) page that will reduce the number of emails you need to respond to.
When you book sessions back to back or overload your day with things to do, you end up multitasking, becoming sloppy and not putting enough time into self-care. It’s impossible to effectively run a business when you're rushing. What's most embarrassing is when the harried nature of your business starts to become noticeable to clients and colleagues.
When a company owner decides what he or she is going to stop doing, the results quickly become apparent. There’s more time and energy for the things that grow the business and inspire workers and leaders and less time spent on those things that are old, stagnant habits. Start with just one thing that you’re going to stop doing and work your way from there to create an even better business in the new year.
This article originally appeared at Entrepreneur. Copyright 2014.