Caught up in Bad Work Habits? Here Are 4 Secrets to Deal With Them

Everyone’s fallen victim to bad work habits, some more than others. It can be as evident as consistently showing up late for work or a habit you probably haven’t realized such as a lack of manners or off-putting body language.

Breaking bad habits can be difficult, especially if you’ve managed to attain success in your current line of work. 

In reality, one bad habit won’t cause you or your coworkers any trouble, but if you fail to realize or take action in trying to avert these habits now, it can sabotage your career advancement, overall wellness, or, even worse, cost you your job.   

So, now it begs the following questions: what causes one to fall back to these bad habits? 

How difficult are they to overcome? 

In this article, we’ll share what causes bad work habits, common work habits to avoid, and four secrets anyone can use to overcome them.

What causes bad work habits?

Habits are formed when certain behaviors become second nature. Some are unintentional, while other habits are created to suit one’s needs and surroundings. 

Why do habits form in the first place?

The mechanics of how habits form is through our subconscious mind. When we learn to do an activity the first go-around, it requires more effort. When you do it repeatedly, your conscious mind tries not to exert more energy and effort performing a learned behavior. Thus, forming a ‘habit loop’ in the process. 

As for bad work habits, the cause boils down to either stress or boredom. With that said, we might have an idea of what you’re thinking, both are normal facets in any line of work… making it impossible to put an end to. 

Does this mean you just accept defeat? Of course not! However, it does go without saying that the adjustment will take time and patience to get accustomed to… but if you understand the root cause of your bad habits and commit to changing them,  all you need is intrinsic motivation to ward off bad habits for good. 

When it comes to bad work habits or habits in general, the good news is, you can always rewire your brain to change them. Founder and CEO of Talent Zoo, Rick Myers, agreed that bad habits can cause a downward spiral in one’s career. 

He also went on to say: “The most unfortunate part is that people rarely realize they have these habits.”

What are common bad work habits?

You’ve come this far reading this article for a reason… It means you’re ready to make positive changes to your current lifestyle. However, before you can drive down the road to developing successful habits and increasing work effectiveness, you’ll need to know what obstacles might get in the way of preventing it. 

If any of these behaviors ring a bell or you’ve noticed one or more in a coworker, make sure to take action before it spirals out of control:

  • Taking little to no breaks
  • Addiction to social media
  • Procrastination
  • Poor communication
  • Tardiness
  • Inefficiency
  • Lack of professionalism
  • Negative body language

How can you overcome bad work habits? 

1. Be aware of your bad habits

Habits don’t come out of the blue. As easy as it was for you to develop that habit, eliminating it can be just as easy. Admitting that you have bad work habits is the first step in overcoming them. 

When you make yourself aware of a bad habit, it allows you to assess and analyze the problem head-on. You’ll know what’s been causing the problem, seek help from others, and promote a healthy work-life balance

We understand that some things are easier said than done, so whenever you begin to fall back to some of the bad habits mentioned above, remember these following tips:

  • Practice mindfulness
  • Make time for yourself
  • Process your thoughts through writing
  • Share your thoughts with a friend, family member, or therapist
  • Observe emotions and body language  
  • Set reminders to ensure consistency

2. Start with simple goals

When you think of a goal, don’t make the mistake of reaching for the stars. Instead, start with a simple goal that won’t change your lifestyle overnight. Start by asking yourself what you want to change and what you can achieve from making that change. 

Once that’s been settled, you can then proceed to craft an action plan that will help you accomplish both your short and long-term goals. 

3. Eliminate distractions

No matter how hard we try to lock in on a certain task, we can’t help but succumb to distractions. With the everyday bustle that comes with working, whether it’s working in an office or working remotely, the level of productivity employees expend is ever-changing. 

Distractions can be excessive water cooler chats in the office or scrolling through social media platforms. To stop distractions from having an impact on your productivity, here are seven proven strategies anyone can use to overcome them:

  • Create a distraction-free environment
  • Set three objectives to accomplish every day
  • Set a deadline
  • Keep your mind off auto-pilot
  • Give your mind a break here and there
  • Don’t be afraid to take tasks outside your comfort zone
  • Reduce stress levels by learning a new hobby

4. Communicate your thoughts effectively

The secret ingredient of every successful business is proper communication. When you relay your message effectively, everyone immediately gets on the same page to achieve a common goal. However, this doesn’t mean you should take control of the entire conversation. 

Communication is a two-way street. As social creatures, we all want to be heard. When that is seemingly taken away from us, it can instill bad work habits that may well hamper your level of productivity.    

To improve your level of communication, here’s what you can do:

  • Ask and learn what works best
  • Think before you speak
  • Check your grammar and professionalism
  • Take responsibility when a project doesn’t go as planned
  • Ask others if you fully understand the problem before you think of a solution
  • Listen to what others have to say
  • Don’t interrupt others while they are speaking

In summary,

Everyone is guilty of having a bad habit here and there. As long as you’re aware of your bad habits and make changes before they evolve into something that can affect your productivity and relationships with other colleagues, you’ll be in good shape. 

However, bad habits develop for a reason; they become convenient and make us feel good.   

Before it comes to a point that you’re on the brink of losing your livelihood, remember to follow these steps:

  • Be aware of your bad habits
  • Start with simple goals
  • Eliminate distractions
  • Communicate your thoughts effectively
  • Replace your bad habit with a good one

“If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude .” - Colin Powell

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