How many of your bad habits at work are slowing you down?
Whether that means physically, mentally, or just stalling out on a project, your daily habits play a huge role in productivity. The pandemic forced many to work from home and in turn, no doubt created some bad working habits — ahem, like that third trip to the pantry in less than an hour…
No matter your undesirable habit, you can break it. Below, we share tips on how to beat bad habits like procrastination, mindlessly snacking, tardiness, and more.
If you’re looking to reset your mindset and improve your habits for the better, this read is for you.
Bad Habits at Work That Keep You From Doing Your Best
Despite our best efforts, none of us are perfect. But we can try!
When it comes to work and being productive, there are certain habits guaranteed to put you behind, make you look unprofessional, or simply keep you from doing your best work. Whether you have one or all of these bad habits below, there is hope to work toward a better daily habit. You’ll find a little hack to break each habit in a simple way.
Ready for some better habits? Check out these nine bad habits at work to break today.
1. Being Late
It goes to say that if you’re chronically late, it doesn’t look good for you. It looks even worse if you’re an employee who often meets clients on the company’s behalf and you’re always late. Being tardy is not only disrespectful of someone else’s time but shows an attitude of carelessness, which could result in fewer responsibilities, distrust among colleagues, and sometimes even termination.
Break the habit: Set timers to keep yourself on track and aware of the time.
2. Checking Your Phone Too Often
Many of us are attached to our phones. When you need to work, though, it can be challenging to put down that addictive little device. Looking at your phone too often can not only lead to more stress, but it can cause permanent physical damage to your body, too. Research shows too much screen time can lead to issues with digital eye strain, headaches, and neck pain. This can lead to additional doctor appointments which take up valuable time — often from work.
Break the habit: Turning off notifications for unnecessary apps like social media sites or other time-wasters like online shopping apps can keep you from picking up your phone with every ding.
Even though you may think you’re multitasking to be productive, it’s actually not all that helpful for your work performance. Research shows that only 2.5% of people can effectively multitask! Additionally, when your brain switches back and forth a lot between tasks, it makes you less efficient and more prone to mistakes, according to a Cleveland Clinic article on the subject.
Break the habit: When trying to work through complex problems or activities that need focused attention, skip trying to do other tasks at the same time so your attention isn’t divided.
4. Jumping in Your Inbox A Lot
Email is an efficient way to get some work done, but it doesn’t need to keep you distracted by it all day long. One of the top bad habits at work to break is keeping your inbox tab open; it only serves as a temptation to get you to click over to it. Checking email serves as a distracting activity over a productive one, too. It’s a bit addictive in that way.
Break the habit: Consider checking your inbox once in the morning and once in the afternoon to keep your time checking emails to a minimum. You can also use tools to “pause” your inbox so it still receives emails, but you won’t be alerted until you unpause it.
5. Sitting for Way Too Long
Like many workers, you probably sit for much of the day. But it’s a bad habit that can easily be remedied. Sitting behavior is known to be a risk factor for a variety of diseases, including type 2 diabetes, obesity, and coronary artery disease. Sitting in one position too long can also cause back or muscle pain and even have an impact on memory.
Break the habit: Set a timer to stretch throughout the day. You may also want to invest in a standing desk that you can alternate between sitting and standing positions.
6. Mindlessly Snacking
If you’re constantly in your fridge or walking past the vending machine at work, it’s easy to munch out of pure habit and boredom. But the quality of your snacks — especially in the afternoon — can have a huge impact on your energy levels. Instead of eating mindlessly at your desk while you work on your computer, consider listening closely to your hunger cues and using portion control to snack smarter.
Break the habit: Skip the vending machine. Instead, bring your own healthy snacks to work. Or, if you work from home, prep all your snacks in pre-portioned containers at the beginning of the week so you can snack smart.
7. Waiting to Work on Hard Tasks
Easy wins are tempting to knock out first thing in the morning. But, research shows it’s best to not procrastinate on the difficult tasks. This can be particularly tempting when your workload is massive or you’re behind on projects. Sure, you’ll feel more satisfied knocking out quick wins, but the bigger project you finish will make you feel less anxious.
Break the habit: Break down the bigger projects, tasks, etc. into smaller milestones. Then you’ll still get the satisfaction of “completion” each time you finish a task while also chipping away at a major to-do list item.
8. Working Inefficiently
Nothing will wreck your productivity levels like overall inefficient working habits. Whether you’re a notorious time waster or your desk is a cluttered mess, it doesn’t set you up for success. It’s also a bad habit at work that can distract and annoy your colleagues, too.
Break the habit: Take stock of what you do well and areas you can improve upon on a regular basis to increase your productivity levels.
9. Prioritizing Work Over Sleep
If you want to do better at your job, the answer isn’t logging in more hours and losing sleep. With many people working from home these days, it can be difficult to keep firm boundaries around when you work. Just checking “that one email” in bed may turn into answering several emails and losing sleep as a result. Without a doubt, high-quality sleep leads to better work quality, so it’s not worth missing it.
Break the habit: If you tend to stay up late scrolling through emails or other work projects on your phone, set an alarm to shut it down for the night. Better yet, plug it in to charge in another room so you’re not tempted to tackle email late into the night.
Breaking Bad Habits Takes Time
Don’t beat yourself up if you are prone to any — or even all — of these habits.
Sometimes, you simply don’t know your blind spot until it’s pointed out. But in the name of working smarter, not harder, it’s worth it to break bad habits at work that impede upon your productivity and work processes.
Just remember, it took time to build up a bad habit. That means it will take some time to break away from it, too. Give yourself grace and be patient as you work toward making smarter daily choices into long-term, built-in habits.
In time, you’ll find your bad habits can indeed be replaced by better habits you can be proud of!
What bad work habits would you like to break? Share your thoughts in the comments below!