Your new year to-don’t list: things to stop doing in your business for increased productivity in 2023

About the Author: Ashley Thomson
Ashley Thomson

what to cull from your business in 2020If you own a business, then I’m willing to bet that your to-do list is long enough that you could string it around your Christmas tree like tinsel. What’s more, just as you manage to cross something off, three more tasks join the queue for your ever-dividing attention.

It’s a chief complaint for those I mentor as a business coach, so when Adam Grant – author, podcaster and TED talker (not to mention father of three young kids) – offered his solution, I was hooked.

What was this magical pass off the to-do list merry-go-round? Wait for it…

(drumroll please)

Make a to-don’t list instead.

In creating his personal to-don’t list, Grant swore off four main time or joy-sucking things:

  • Helping everyone who asks
  • Mindless screen time
  • Prioritising work over family
  • Playing online scrabble

So, as you can see, your personal to-don’t list could be particular to you; it won’t necessarily look like everyone else’s.

That said, there are a few things that I know, as a business mentor, many of my clients have benefited from taking off their over-piled plate. So, below are my suggestions for things you should cull from your business as we welcome in the new decade.


Seven business-limiting ‘to-don’ts’ you should leave back in 2019


One: Clutter

Taking a more mindful approach to business will help you see more clearly those things that are stopping you from taking your business to the next level. Business clutter can take many forms; physical and digital clutter, processes that no longer serve you, ‘someday’ projects and even old beliefs can all become baggage that is weighing you down and slowing your progress.

Our blog on how working with ‘less’ can actually serve your business more, includes helpful ideas based on the popular Kon Mari decluttering method.


Two: Bad habits

Hey – you’re only human; all of us have a few bad habits that hold us back in life and in business. However, taking action isn’t optional here. As a business coach, I’ve only ever seen unaddressed negative patterns play out one of two ways: the best-case scenario is that they impact your productivity, while the worst is that you’ll end up feeling powerless and out of control. This can ultimately kill your your motivation and result in a poor self-concept. Ouch!

Identifying and understanding what your negative habits are is just the first step. If you have a few patterns in your personal and working life that you want to kick to the curb, then check out our blog on breaking bad habits. We give you six actions that will help you take back control of your routines and put you back on the path towards success.


Three: Negative or limiting mindset

It may seem a bit woo-woo, but our emotions and mindset can either be the wind at your back as you strive to take your business to the next level, or the headwind that slows your progress to a grinding halt. Whether it’s cracking under pressure, letting your ego drive the bus or allowing fear to hold you back from taking that all-important next step, a lot of the work you’ll need to do on your business ends up being work you do on yourself.

We’ve published a suite of resources on mindset that you should check out to help you step into the new business year with the mental and emotional resilience to take on the curve-balls that will inevitably come your way:


Four: Indecision

Do you hesitate over major decisions, chewing on them until all the flavour’s gone? Maybe you have a tendency to put things off so long that you end up with fewer (and less attractive) options – or worse, let opportunities completely pass you by. Well, no more. One of the most important skills a business leader must have is the ability to make a call, whether it’s those big-ticket direction-changing business moments or the mundane daily stuff.

Our Tenfold Business Coaching guide on tackling tough decisions gives you some practical tips and frameworks to make saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as simple as flipping a coin – but a lot more strategic.


Five: Underperformance

It can be hard to admit it when you notice areas of your business that aren’t living up to expectations. There’s a temptation to stick your head in the sand and just hope they’ll pick up with time. However, if you’ve noticed that certain products, services, processes, or (dare I say it) team members aren’t moving your business forward, it might be time to let them go.

Sending underperforming business offerings or processes packing is one thing, but people are a little more difficult – there’s an additional layer of emotional involvement there. My business advice is to trust the process; whether you need some sanity checks or a performance management plan to give them one last chance to improve before you let them go, our guide to getting off the fence about employee dismissal will ensure sure you get a good result one way or another.


Six: Wasted time

Do you dip into your inbox only to look up and see that you’ve lost three hours of your day and haven’t achieved much? Or maybe you sit in meetings, watching the minutes disappear, wondering why you’re there? When you’re a business owner, your time really is money, so you can’t afford to waste it. What you need is a plan. That’s where our 9 fool proof time management strategies for business owners is (literally) worth its weight in gold.

For even more tips for time management, check out our 7 hot tips for getting more out of less time.


Seven: Trying to go it alone

This is a big one for a lot of the business owners I mentor.  You can get so used to wearing all the hats in your business, that it can be hard to let go of the reigns a bit or ask for help when you need it.

Whether the answer is outsourcing administrative tasks to a virtual assistant, or finding a business mentor or engaging a business coach, running a business doesn’t have to be such a lonely experience. At Tenfold we always like to say that it’s teamwork that makes the dream work.

Think you might be ready to try business coaching? Find out the 7 attributes successful business owners share that mean they get the most out of their mentoring experience.  


Don’t look back

Creating a to-don’t list is a great perspective changer – it helps you look at your habits, routines and business activities with fresh eyes. Sometimes we get so caught up in the doing, that we forget to ask ourselves if a task has really earnt its place on our list of priorities. With your trusty new 2020 to-don’t list in hand, you’ll be starting off the new decade with better boundaries around how you spend your precious time.