How to Break Bad Work Habits

Have you developed a few bad work habits over time? Learn five effective tips on how to break them.

After the probation period is over at work, professionals often become lax, and in no time, they develop bad habits. For other people, they creep up over time. Everyone has bad habits in the workplace - they are reinforced behaviors - and it could be that some of the bad habits are a result of the workplace culture. Take a look at your workday to identify any bad work habits, and the only way to break them, is to replace them with better habits. There are some common bad habits in the workplace listed below, which ones are you guilty of?

  1. Unproductive days: No one is on top of his or her day, every day, but if you find that most days you do not complete all your important tasks, and it’s not because you overscheduled, it’s time to take a close look at how you are spending your day. If you find that you waste a lot of time “gossiping at the water cooler,” instead, schedule lunch with your coworkers, so that you are still on top of what’s going on in the organization. If you find that you are constantly checking your email and responding to every one of them, then schedule specific times when you will check it. Some emails are for information only, so do not waste time responding to them. And do you find that you waste time figuring out which tasks to do next? This is a result of poor planning. To get rid of these bad habits that lead to unproductive days, plan your workday the night before or first thing in the morning, and schedule the activities in your calendar so a timeline is attached.
  2. Being late for meetings: Many people believe that if they show up five to 10 minutes after the meeting is supposed to start, they are not really late. If this is something that you are guilty of, think about the time you waste because someone has to recap so that you understand what’s going on. The meeting runs longer, which messes up other people’s day. People often do not really take the time to think about how their actions impact others. Set a reminder in your online calendar, so you can wrap up what you are working on. If you finish a task, and have 10 minutes to spare before your meeting, instead of starting another task that will take 20 minutes to complete, use the time to prepare for the meeting, or to center yourself so you can fully participate in the meeting.
  3. Taking too long lunch breaks: Every now and again, it will be necessary to take an extended lunch break, but this behavior shouldn’t be the norm. Schedule all activities, including your breaks, into your calendar. Stick to your schedule as close as possible.
  4. Scheduling personal appointments during work time: Everyone has emergencies, and there is no way to avoid scheduling a personal appointment during work hours. This should be an exception and not the norm. Take a personal day for your personal appointments because during work hours, the only thing you should be doing, is working.
  5. Avoiding face-to-face communication: Email is great and can save time, but it is not a substitute for meeting face-to-face with your colleagues. Many of us rely on email so heavily that we forget that a simple face-to-face interaction can easily prevent many miscommunications that arise because of an email. And a face-to-face interaction also builds relationships. From time-to-time, walk down the hall to speak to a colleague, instead of sending an email, and if face-to-face is not an option, take up the phone and call instead.

These are only five common bad work habits. They are used to illustrate how to break bad habits. The trick to breaking bad habits is to spend a couple of days paying attention to how you spend your time at work, and how you approach your work. By doing this, you will identify your bad work habits, and to break them, simply replace them with better ones.

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