Career

15 Bad Work Habits I’m Ditching This Year (And You Should, Too!)

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I used to love making big, dramatic new year’s resolutions. I’d promise to work out every day, stop eating junk food, or finally become fluent in Spanish. But eventually, I realized that I wasn’t so great at following through on my epic promises.

 

So these days, I try to keep my goals a little simpler. 

In 2019, I’ve decided I want to focus on making my work life as happy and anxiety-free as it can be. So, I took an honest look at some of the less-than-desirable work habits I’ve developed over the years and reflected on how they might be holding me back, stressing me out, or making my workdays harder than they need to be. This yielded a pretty robust list!

Check out what bad habits I’m avoiding this year, and see if you’re guilty of them yourself.

 

1. Skipping Breaks and Meals

Sometimes, I get so busy that I tell myself there isn’t time to eat lunch or step outside for a breath of fresh air. And that simply isn’t true. Unless I’m on a tight deadline or in the midst of a genuine crisis, I can always find 15 minutes to spare. The key is to be intentional about it. This year, I’m going start scheduling breaks on my calendar and stop ignoring my growling stomach. 

 

2. Letting the Sunday Scaries Get Me Down

Every Sunday afternoon around four o’clock, I start thinking about Monday, stressing about what I didn’t get done on Friday, and lamenting the five-day work week. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of telling myself that Monday is something to dread, I can change up the narrative by being a bit more organized and giving myself something fun to look forward to at the beginning of each week—like, say, treating myself to my favorite latte. 

 

3. Winging it on Mondays

In my attempt to avoid Sunday evening anxiety and to have an all-around more productive workweek, I’m going to stop spending Monday mornings getting my bearings and start making a to-do list for myself every Friday. That way, when I get to my desk after a fun-filled weekend, I can pick up right where I left off.

 

4. Pushing Through Unproductive Spells

Usually, when I find myself in an unproductive rut, I feel guilty about not getting enough done so I (figuratively) chain myself to my desk. In theory, I’m hoping that staying put will force me to focus, but my mind just doesn’t work that way. 

From now on, when I find myself in an unproductive spell, I’m going to get up from my desk and take a walk, brew some coffee, or run a quick errand. Stepping away from the computer usually helps me to clear my head and return to my desk feeling reenergized. 

 

5. Falling Behind on Expense Reports

Or filling out my time sheet. Or my TPS reports (yeah… I think I missed the memo about attaching the new coversheets). All those little administrative details can be cumbersome—but they’re still important. Plus, being chronically late drives your co-workers crazy (I would know).

This change will make keeping track of receipts and billable hours easier and—more importantly—it’ll make me a better co-worker.

 

6. Telling Myself I’ll Do it Tomorrow

Yes, this is a fancy way of saying that I want to stop procrastinating. It’s easy to put off the tasks I’m dreading until tomorrow—until tomorrow comes. Rather than letting those undesirable projects languish on my to-do list for days on end, I’ve promised myself that I’m going to knock them out as soon as possible. 

 

7. Using Way Too Many Exclamation Points!

I want to seem friendly! I want to make my requests sound light and breezy! I don’t want my contacts to think I’m rude! But I must admit, in my attempt to seem approachable, I’ve developed a bit of an exclamation point addiction. I know I won’t be able to quit my favorite punctuation mark entirely, but I’m going to work on reining it in. 

 

8. Over-Explaining Myself

Do you find yourself writing fluffy, superfluous introductions for most of the emails you send? This year, I want to be more direct. If I’m following up on a client invoice or reminding a colleague about an upcoming deadline, I don’t need to explain why. It’s obvious! And I don’t need to apologize for doing my job, either.

(I’ll probably still ask how your weekend was, though. I’m not a monster.)

 

9. Working When I’m Sick

At the start of my career, I had this idea that if I got sick, I needed to demonstrate my outstanding work ethic by pushing through it. I’d drag my sniffly, contagious self to the office and force myself to work—no matter how miserable I felt. Eventually, I realized how rude it was to expose my co-workers to my nasty germs. 

If I’m genuinely ill, I should probably spend more time sleeping and less time on my computer (or at least work from home). Hopefully I have a healthy year ahead, but if I do come down with a nasty cold, I’m going to let myself rest. 

 

10. Avoiding Company Events

I’m an introvert, but I’m also pretty outgoing, so people are often surprised to learn that I’ll go to great lengths to avoid unnecessary social interaction. It’s not that I don’t like the people I work with, it’s just that I’d almost always rather be home. 

That’s not a bad thing per se, but when my kneejerk reaction is to find a way to get out of attending a team happy hour or a company party, I’m probably going to miss out on some great relationship-building opportunities. I may not say yes to every invitation, but I’m going to do my best to participate more. 

 

11. Spending My Entire Paycheck on Coffee and Overpriced Salads

In other words, it’s time that I start packing my lunches and making coffee at home. (Unless it’s Monday and I need a special treat to stave off those Sunday Scaries). I love going out to lunch, but those outings add up quickly. 

 

12. Hating My Workspace

We spend way too much time at our desks not to enjoy our workspaces. And I recently realized that mine is seriously lacking. I have no photos, plants, or décor anywhere. So, I’m going to show my desk a little love. I’m planning to add some greenery, an inspirational quote, and maybe a strand of miniature lights. I’m also going to frame a cute picture of my dog. Seeing his cute little face staring back at me when I’m hard at work will make work way more manageable! 

 

13. Neglecting My Network

I’ve found that when I’m not actively searching for a new job, I tend to go a little quiet on my network. And I certainly don’t want to be the person who only reaches out when I need something.

I’m planning to dedicate a little more time to keeping up with my current and former colleagues, checking in just to say hello, and engaging with my contacts on LinkedIn. Getting a little social interaction never hurt anyone (even us introverts) and it’s essential to keep my professional relationships strong. 

 

14. Being Too Lazy to Learn

I never want to stop learning, but after I’ve been in a job for a while, I tend to get a little complacent. But just because I know what I’m doing doesn’t mean that I’ve learned everything I possibly can. 

I’ve resolved that if I feel myself coasting, I’ll seek out ways to challenge myself. That might mean that I’ll opt to attend a workshop, take a class, or read up on the latest trends in my industry. If I’m feeling bold, I may even reach out to a trusted mentor for feedback on how I could up my game. 

 

15. Sticking it Out in the Wrong Job

I’m luckily very happy with my current jobs (I’m a freelancer, so I juggle a few different gigs), but I’ve promised myself that if something no longer feels right, I’ll move on. I spent the first part of my career slogging through jobs that weren’t fulfilling, and that didn’t really get me anywhere. It took some time, but now I know that’s not the way to achieve my goals. So, when I realize it’s time to move on, I will.


I know these pesky habits won’t disappear overnight, but I feel excited about trying to ditch the behaviours that dampen my overall happiness. And even if I only succeed some of the time, at least I’ll be making improvements. 

Cheers to a successful, productive, and balanced 2019!

 

By JACLYN WESTLAKE

This article first appeared in The Muse