Stop These 5 Bad Work Habits That May Be Holding you Back

We’ve all been guilty of sneaking in a few minutes late or waited and procrastinated to the very last minute then frantically finished a project or made personal phone calls while at the office. While these seem to be innocent enough when they occur on an irregular basis they can quickly become regular bad work habits and can hold you back from being a better employee and reaching your full potential.

Here are 5 bad work habits that need to be eliminated in order for you to be your best self in your career:

#1. You are always late.

Don’t be the guy known as the one that’s always ten minutes late. Be the one that’s known for always being ten minutes early. Being on time shows that you are dependable and you respect the time of others. Don’t shrug your shoulders and sheepishly offer that the “traffic was awful.” Leave the house early enough to give yourself a buffer to still arrive on time regardless of your morning commute.

Set your alarm 20 minutes earlier than you normally get up. Get ready for the day the night before, lay out your clothes; pack your lunch and gym bag. Just get to work on time! This is a habit that needs to be developed right away if you are currently suffering from the “I’m always late for everything habit.” Create the “I’m always early or on time” habit instead.

#2. You always procrastinate when it comes to getting your work done.

Why do people procrastinate? Dr. Joseph Ferrari, associate professor of psychology at De Paul University in Chicago, identified three main reasons why people procrastinate:

  • To feel the adrenaline rush
  • To avoid the situation out of fear or something
  • To avoid making a decision

These things all make sense. In the workplace, some employees like the feeling of accomplishing a goal and cutting it close, so they put things off to get their blood pumping convincing themselves that they do their “best work” at the “last minute”. Others are afraid that they’ll disappoint their co-workers and boss with poor results so they avoid working on a project. Some workers just want to avoid making a decision entirely because then they’ll have to take responsibility for whichever option they choose. The problem with this logic is it puts the workload on others and that can create resentment, (that doesn’t sound like being a good team player), it creates more anxiety, and chances are you won’t meet your original deadline.

Create the “I will not only meet my deadline, I will get the project in early” habit and see what kind of results you get, that just may turn into a different type of adrenaline rush.

#3. You love to engage in office gossip.

Psst. Have you heard? Well you didn’t hear it from me but the word on the street is…

Sometimes it can be hard not to get caught up in little office dirt. The attention you get from others enjoying the juicy stories you have to offer. In the long-run, however, this is a very dangerous—not to mention a very destructive— habit. People may enjoy your stories for a while but may start to wonder what you are telling other people about them given your obvious penchant for not being able to keep a secret or hold a confidence.

Negative office gossip can cause a toxic workplace environment and it’s an unattractive habit. Don’t engage in it and create the “I don’t participate in office gossip” habit.

#4. You conduct personal business on company time

It’s hard trying to get everything done on most days. But don’t be the person who is always on the phone on personal business while you should be working. Keep your work separate from your personal life to the extent that you can. You can make the occasional quick call to make an appointment if you need to, but keep it to a minimum. And stay off the internet! According to a salary.com survey, 64% of respondents said they visit non-work related websites every day during work hours. Create the “work is work and personal is personal” mantra as a reminder that you need to work when you are at work.

#5. You use the “It’s not my job” excuse.

Depending on where you work and with whom, you may be guilty of using the “It’s not my job” excuse to avoid taking on extra work. “It’s not my job,” or “That’s not in my contract,” are words that are like fingernails dragging down a blackboard to your boss or supervisor.

While it may be true that a particular job that you are asked to perform is outside the actual letter of your contract, or job description, by doing it anyway you demonstrate that you are a team player. You show that you are willing to go above and beyond when it’s needed most. If your boss begins to take advantage of your willingness to help out or you are routinely asked to do more than your job description entails, then it might be time to renegotiate the terms of your employment. Or you might need to ask for a raise. You can’t do that, however, if you have avoided the extra duty you may have been asked to perform because it is “not your job.” Step it up. Offer to do a little extra and watch your boss start to entrust you with more responsibility that might even result in a promotion and/or a raise.

While how long it takes to form a new habit is up for debate, breaking these bad habits can help your ability to succeed in the workplace and possibly earn you promotions along the way. If anything, you’ll be on time.