By: TSP Blog | @TSProckstars
When it comes to the workplace, we all develop habits that either help or hinder our productivity and professional development. For example, checking email during predetermined times or drafting up a to-do list every morning are two habits that we should all develop. On the other hand, chronically forgetting to respond to emails or habitually forgetting to do things are two habits that we should all ditch.
As you begin to investigate your behaviors, keep in mind that there are ways to break the pattern. We’ve all heard that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. Whether or not you disagree with the 21-day rule (some do), pretty much everyone agrees that breaking a habit takes dedication.
Below we’ve picked our top three bad habits that could hinder your career growth if they go unchecked.
While many think procrastination is only an issue for students, that is far from the truth. In fact, studies show that one in five Americans are chronic procrastinators. In the workplace, procrastination can arise when you push an assignment off to the last minute. Oftentimes, it can be attributed to poor planning – perhaps you simply forgot to make time to complete the task. Other times it’s a sign of poor time management. Maybe you prioritized projects that are quick and easy to check off a list, instead of the more pressing and in-depth assignments at hand.
Whatever your downfall might be, there are a few simple steps that you can add into your daily routine to help reduce the risk of procrastination. The first thing we recommend is to write down what needs to get done and keep the list visible. If you are juggling multiple assignments, it is also helpful to prioritize based on deadline, effort involved, and impact of completing the project. Be sure to build in more time for those high value, high effort projects; and try to spend less of your time on the low value, high effort projects (check out these visuals of the value vs. complexity matrix). As you build out your list and prioritize it, also set benchmark goals to hit along the way – whether it be to work on the assignment one hour a day or finish ¾ of it by midweek.
From arriving late to work to constantly being the last one to walk into the meeting, habitual tardiness can be one of the most annoying habits to coworkers and clients. We all know how hectic mornings can get and understand slight tardiness on occasion, but when it happens every day? Not so much. To your coworkers, this can seem like a failure plan or an inability to adjust your routine. While you may think this habit doesn’t affect anyone else at the company, it does get annoying to those coworkers who are always on time and always prepared. It can even be viewed by them as blatantly disrespectful.
So how do you become one of those people who arrives punctually or, better yet, five minutes early? Give yourself a little more time to get where you’re going. If you have trouble getting to work in the mornings, start going to bed earlier so that you can get up earlier. If you tend to be late to meetings or rush to get there, start allowing at least 30 minutes of empty time between every appointment. By doing so, you’ll have a little extra leeway if your meeting runs over or if you need to respond to any timely emails.
Being negative not only brings you down, but it frustrates everyone around you. Consistently complaining about your heavy workload or busy schedule can lead others to think that you have little consideration of their workload or schedule. Workplace negativity also increases when you fall prey to gossip. We’ve all been there – one person talks poorly about another and you’re happy to hear that someone else feels the same way that you do. But when this becomes a daily routine, it can lead to perpetual pessimism in the office.
The first step in cutting out negativity is learning to keep it to yourself. As cliché as it sounds, it is also vital to focus on the positive aspects of the situation – for example, a longer to-do list can be attributed to the fact that your boss trusts you with more responsibility. While it can be best to keep your stress to yourself, this is not the case when it comes to complaining about coworkers. Instead, you should address the situation with the person you’re having problems with. Even if the conversation doesn’t settle the issue, it can hopefully lead to a little understanding and consideration in the future.
If any of the above habits apply to you, we urge you to take stock and create a game plan for reversing the routine. Not only can they keep you from reaching your potential and alter your productivity, they can also effect those around you. When you do decide to make a change, be sure to set realistic goals and stick to the routine – if you don’t, you greatly reduce the likelihood for success.