Good work habits will lead you down a path towards success, and create a positive and productive environment for yourself. But, bad work habits can do quite the opposite. They are easy to come by and can cause problems in your career if you’re not careful.
But there’s good news! Just because you have bad work habits now doesn’t mean you always have to have them. Focus on making some changes, and before you know it, you could turn your most problematic patterns into positive practices.
Here are the 5 biggest work habits with tips on how to break them.
1. Poor Communication
Whether you’re in a leadership position or whether you are the lower rung on a large team, knowing how to effectively communicate is vital.
Poor communication causes disconnects and problems in a work environment, because it promotes confusion and lots of room for misinterpretation. Assuming that other people can read your mind or just “should know” what’s going on won’t create a productive workplace. Not being able to effectively communicate with your peers not only wastes time, but also leads to more mistakes and mistrust between colleagues. If this is something you struggle with, there are steps you can take to resolve it.
First, be clear and concise when giving instruction. Say exactly what you mean, and if trying to explain something over email, be thorough.
Offer to jump on a call to explain what you mean, or ask lots of questions to make sure you are communicating what you mean to say. Also, ask others for feedback. Asking for constructive criticism (and being open to hearing things that may not feel pleasurable) is a great way to keep the lines of communication open.
Don’t make excuses for your miscommunications, but ask how you can be more clear in the future.
2. Constant Distractions
In today’s day and age, it’s almost impossible NOT to get distracted. I mean, how can you send an email on your phone without responding to that Facebook notification and that text from a friend?
It may be difficult, but learning to limit your distractions while at work will increase your productivity tenfold. Create a clear line between your work life and your personal life, and do your best to keep them separate. If you’re constantly not on task throughout the day, others will take notice, and you don’t want to be known as the person who’s constantly taking “me time” while at work, such as checking your Instagram on company time.
Put your phone on do not disturb and come up with tactics that help make you focus. You’re entitled to take breaks and check your phone, but doing this too much will give the impression that you’re not a hard worker.
No one likes being around someone who is constantly sucking the positivity out of any situation. We all know those people — individuals who obviously hate their job and everyone knows it. It’s definitely not enjoyable to be around, and it doesn’t produce a positive or productive work environment either. Of course, we all have bad days or go through times when we might be negative.
But if you’re constantly complaining or looking for things to have a problem with, you likely are dwelling on negativity.
Instead, do the opposite. Seek to be the positive co-worker, the one who sees the light in every situation. Even when you may not feel like it, attitudes are contagious, so make sure you’re putting your best foot forward. You can do this by complimenting colleagues or by not succumbing to workplace gossip. As much as possible, try to stay away from any negativity.
4. Being Unorganized
Any productive work environment relies on people being organized and having their tasks under control. In reality, none of us are truly “multitaskers”, and it is a bad habit to constantly be flitting between working on 6 things at once. If your desk is a mess, if you’re not sure what meetings or tasks you have to complete each week, or if you are missing deadlines and project due dates, chances are you’re unorganized.
But, there are ways to change it all around. Use a calendar or planner and write out what you have to do and when. Use storage containers and other organizational tools to keep your papers and files neat and tidy. Find out what works for you, and don’t be afraid to try different things out until something sticks. Some of us are more visual, and really benefit from having things written down and laid out in front of us. Others are okay with having things digitally, and rely on notifications and reminders to keep us on track.
5. Eating Badly
This is one of the most common but most easily fixable mistakes. Over-snacking, emotional eating, and bingeing on junk food are common habits that can wreak havoc on your productiveness at work.
For whatever reason, a work environment breeds unhealthiness.
It’s easy to binge on junk foods such as chips, soda, candy, and sweets when you feel bored or unmotivated. Lots of offices also have junk food stashes, which make it all the more difficult to resist temptation. But, these food habits are not only detrimental to your health, but they also cause you to become less productive and uncreative. Giving in to cravings provides happiness in the short term, and when that feeling is gone, you can experience a big sugar crash that will make you feel sleepy and lethargic.
Instead, choose healthy snacks at work, such as hummus, veggies, or fresh fruit. You can break this bad habit by picking healthier options that will make you feel energized and renewed. It’s still okay to indulge, but do so in moderation, and only treat yourself on occasion, not frequently!